Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

History

Date of Defense

11-20-2009

Graduate Advisor

Carlos A. Schwantes, Ph. D.

Committee

Rust, Daniel

Fernlund, Kevin

Abstract

During the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century electricity made inroads into American life. Industry used electricity to power machines. Homemakers utilized electric appliances such as irons and washing machines to perform household chores. Electric lighting was used in homes, factories, railroad stations, advertising, and on city streets. The promise of electricity transformed everyday life. Electricity also held the promise of making it easier to transport freight and passengers on steam railroads. Despite electricity's superiority to steam, a few railroads decided to electrify because it was necessary. Only one railroad, the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul, electrified a major portion of its lines for economic reasons.

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