In his well-known book, Railroads and American Economic Growth, Robert Fogel asserted that in 19th century America railroads produced a “social saving” of about “six-tenths of 1 percent of national income.” Railroads were the first large scale technical system which arose in America and as such they shaped the way Americans organized technology and had a profound impact on large scale business. The Western Union, which eventually controlled most of America’s telegraph network, owed much of its rapid rise to a symbiotic relationship with the railroads. The American railroad network started with many small companies and grew into a vast system which at its peak in 1916 had more than 254,000 route miles of track. American economic forces put a premium on easy interchange between the various railroad systems, regardless of the goals of the railroad leaders. The American railroad network as a vital and progressive large scale technical system reached its apogee in the period between 1900 and 1914.