You are standing on an old road trace, lined with cottonwood trees, where freight was hauled by wagon. The ability to get goods to market is yet another reason Daniel Freeman homesteaded here, four miles from the town of Beatrice.
Freight roads helped homesteaders get their harvests to towns with rail depots. Trains could move goods cheaply and quickly over the vast distances of the Great Plains. Freight that took four days to haul by road was delivered by rail in four hours. Easy access to roads and rails could make or break a homesteader.
In just 50 years, railroads made an impact on society similar to the Internet today.
What Happens if the Railroad Never Comes?
Railroads wanted more customers in the West. Lavish advertisements promised a golden future in towns like Nicodemus, Kansas, that only existed on paper. But no railroad ever came.
People who had bought land then faced having to live on what they were able to produce for themselves. Today, Nicodemus, population 27, is still isolated. The nearest city - Hays, Kansas - is more than an hour's drive.
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The Freemans witnessed the automobile overtake the wagon. Highway 4 was moved to its present location in 1956.