What 19th-Century Kansas Cow Towns Teach Us About Global Capital

Like Amazon Today, Railroads Determined the Fortunes of Even the Most Distant Communities

Boasting dozens of windows and a hundred-person dining room, the Drovers Cottage was quite a hotel by the standards of the 19th-century American West. Even more impressive: It managed to be the main attraction of two different towns.

Dovers Cottage was originally built in Abilene, Kansas, during a cattle boom in the late 1860s, when Abilene was the first great railhead connecting the cattle ranches of Texas to the emerging national rail network. But Abilene’s fortunes soon turned—when Ellsworth, Kansas, took its place as the new cattle boomtown.

Ellsworth rose to …

The Sleeping Car King Who Brought America to the “Ragged Edge of Anarchy”

George Pullman’s Unbending Business Acumen Made Him a Mogul, But Also Inspired the Greatest Labor Uprising of the 19th Century

George M. Pullman literally raised Chicago from the mud. He introduced luxury to the nation’s rail lines. He even created a model company town for his workers—a feat that prompted …

L.A.’s Past and Future Railroad Heydays

Trains Built Southern California, Then Angelenos Rejected Rail. But According to Tom Zoellner and Ethan Elkind, a Comeback Is Afoot.

“Can you think of a city in the United States that was more determined by the railroad” than Los Angeles? Chapman University English scholar Tom Zoellner, author of Train, opened …