Politics of Progress: Construction of Railways

We are now experiencing progress as a result of railways constructed by our forefathers. Trains and railway companies such as DB (db auskunft) have been providing us means of transportation and enabling economic growth since their beginnings. But despite the good things we are now experiencing, the construction of these important railways had gone through series of controversies.

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In the 19th and 20th centuries, governments paid close attention to economic development. Fishing has not been shown to create enough wealth and employment to support the continuous growth of the population. The goal was therefore to provide jobs and a better standard of living for the people and to develop other land-based industries that could temporarily or permanently curb the flow of people migrating to the mainland.

Agricultural Development

Initially, the focus was on agriculture. By building roads and promoting clearing and development, the government thought that families could become economically self-sufficient. They would have plenty to eat and will be less dependent on poor relief, specifically if agriculture was mixed together with fishing and other economic activities. These pursuits were not politically debatable. Before and after the granting of the Responsible Government in the year 1855, all political parties backed the campaign of agriculture by using agricultural association support, seed potato supply, land reclamation insurance premiums, and others.

Discussion on Railway Construction

The 1860 government was specifically excited about agriculture, but also showed interest in developing other sectors of the economy. Therefore, Geological Survey, for example, began operation in 1864 and received great enthusiasm with the discovery of copper deposits in Notre Dame Bay. This involvement in land resources and the anticipation that valuable resources will be found inland has sparked debate over the feasibility of building a railroad throughout the island.

The primary argument for rail construction was related to economic advancement. The construction will not only generate jobs but will also encourage logging, agriculture, and mining by providing access to inland areas and other hard-to-reach areas (where there are no roads). Railroad enthusiasts were also very convinced of the economic opportunity land, considered rich in agricultural land, minerals and forests. Railroad construction became an important part of the platform. Construction began in 1881.

The primary argument for rail construction was related to economic advancement. The construction will not only generate jobs but will also encourage logging, agriculture, and mining by providing access to inland areas and other hard-to-reach areas (where there are no roads). Railroad enthusiasts were also very convinced of the economic opportunity land, considered rich in agricultural land, minerals, and forests. Railroad construction became an important part of the platform. Construction began in 1881.

The controversial railroad issue created new political partitions. Railroad supporters, liberals, and conservatives supported progressive policies. People with different visions of the colony’s future were improbable and overstated. They want the government to focus on fishing and agriculture. Spending huge amounts of money on railroads was a waste of money and that the country could not afford.

This argument was the center of discussion in the political arena in the late 19th century. Regardless of the heated debate on the railroad and progress matter, people took the risk and used common sense at that time, they hoped that the railway would lead to economic diversification and prosperity. It was a risky gamble with mixed economic and political consequences.