Tayler, I thought your summary had good coverage over the encompassing article. I think it’s important to mention just how dangerous steamboats were and why. Many of the causes of these disasters were neglect and impatience by both American passengers and the boat captains or railway conductors respectively. Both transportation communities were obsessed with speed, and America still is arguably. Here’s an article focusing on the hazards of America’s obsession with faster living, which includes the American motifs of progress, speed, and being first.
The same attitude drove transportation factors in the United States that made traveling rapid but dangerous. You do a good job mentioning the economy and culture of America created the attitude that drove this rapid and dangerous lifestyle. But I think its important to include how exactly these modes were dangerous. Just as street racing is popular today, steamboat racing along the Mississippi River was popular. This racing forced extra pressure into dirty boilers that often exploded. While railcars were not as prone to explode, they often did literally fly off the fragile and cheaply constructed railroads creating the same disastrous outcomes. Your conclusion explaining Americans’ beliefs that these catastrophes were acceptable because they thought the future would breed safer technologies is an enlightening ending.
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