In the early 1820s, William and Maurice Wurts began to construct what would eventually be called the Delaware and Hudson Canal. It was a brilliant idea for finding markets in several states (and later Canada, as well) that weren’t as saturated with anthracite coal as the Philadelphia market was at the time. At first, their idea was nothing more than a canal, but mountainous terrain for a few miles between Honesdale, New York and Carbondale, Pennsylvania forced them and their management team to get a little bit more creative. From this necessity, a simple gravity railway was constructed within these few miles. At the time, they may not have realized that it was the seed of what would be the first American railroad.
Throughout the 19th century, the Delaware and Hudson canal slowly faded from use. After all, while canals were efficient and relatively easy, railroad cars were faster and never suffered the danger of sinking. Moving 100 tons at a time, first by steam ship and then by steam locomotive, the company’s operation blossomed throughout New England. The Canada 411 on the matter is that their markets benefitted greatly from the introduction of such ample quantities of U.S. anthracite coal. While the process was slow in evolution, it never wanted for approval from local governments who adored all the jobs and easy access to coal (then the major method of heating homes and businesses) the line created.
While all the jobs and prosperity that went along with the railroad’s early successes have faded with the changing world, the National Park Service has ensured that the line will never be forgotten, as it has in recent years restored the line’s aesthetic appeal and marked important points thereon. As long as the entrepreneurial spirit and cooperative synergy between people (brothers, especially) continues, it’s definitely fair to say there is pretty much nothing that human beings can’t accomplish.