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A revolution in transportation took place during the 19th century on land and waterways. The building of the Erie Canal had improved transportation and growth in New York State. It was not long however, before the canal barges were replaced.
In 1807, Robert Fulton launched the world's first steamboat. It could move a boat against the current in a river by a large paddle wheel that turned in the water. The paddle wheel attached to the back of the boat was powered by a steam engine aboard the boat.
The invention of the steam locomotive again changed the way goods and people traveled. Products could be moved more cheaply and much faster by this new method of transportation. Train cars could also haul heavier loads than boats or wagons.
Railroads for steam powered trains were introduced in the United States in the 1830's. Within five years many small local railroads were operating, most only going a short distance of only a few miles.
People depended on hearing news from each other. Many adults did not know how to read or write well. People who could read and write wrote letters or messages that were delivered by messengers, usually on horseback.