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Growth and Decline

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The Oxbow by Thomas Cole
The Oxbow by Thomas Cole

Growth and Decline: Impacts of the Transportation Revolution

This lesson uses charts and an interactive map to help students understand the impact of the transportation revolution. These tools will help students see the growth and decline of different cities, recognize the various transportation routes, and compare the costs of various modes of transportation.

Essential Question:
How did the rapid growth of transportation lead to the development of cities and towns along the Connecticut River?

Lesson Overview

Yoked Oxen

  1. How did the geographical features of the Connecticut River Valley affect the Valley population?
  2. Look at the population figures (link to PDF) for the last two decades when Springfield grew significantly. What accounts for the increase? Use the graph and the documents to formulate your answer.
  3. When did the population of Springfield decrease? What could account for the decline?
  4. Which other cities in western Massachusetts grew significantly during the same time? Use the interactive map to compare the time period and the transportation mode between 1790-1830. Identify the major cities. Next, compare the same cities between 1830-1850. What could explain the increase? Which cities/towns saw a decline in their populations during this same time period?
  5. Examine the Steamboat Barnet [permalink href=”1187″]Interactive Transportation Map[/permalink]. How did the railroads affect the population in the Connecticut River Valley? What could explain it?
  6. Compare transportation costs (link to PDF) from 1784 to 1802 and from 1848 to 1870
    What could account for the steady decline?
  7. Why did it cost more to go upstream? Why was the cost of an ox cart greater than river travel?
  8. Use the map to plot the route of the Barnet. What natural obstacles did the vessel have to overcome? How did the Barnet’s success contribute to Springfield’s commercial growth?
  9. Compare the cost of the modes of transportation listed for 2000. Today, more goods travel by truck. Why? What are the advantages of the other modes of transport?
  10. Why do highway routes develop along the course of a river?
  11. What forms of transportation are likely to be the most important in the 21st century? Why?

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