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orphan train movement



The nineteenth century was the time of a great progress for America, especially when it comes to infrastructure. The construction of railroads, roads and canals helped the nation connect and spread all over the country. New technology arising and people using its advantages, the government tend to improve more, by providing advanced transport system.

Before starting to modernize, people ride on their horsed or went on the rivers in order to travel somewhere. Nonetheless, in the early 19th century, the new roads were constructed. The farmers and settlers had a big profit out of it, as their everyday life was much easier.

By inventing the artificial rivers called canals, people in the United States saved a lot of time in terms of travelling from one place to another. One of the most successful canals was Erie Canal, the canal itself connected Hudson River, New York and thus, the Atlantic seaboard to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Valley. It was fundamentally used for trade, and therefore for transferring goods worth millions of dollars.



The Steam-powered locomotive was the first invented means of transportation in 1820s, providing cheaper and faster way to travel as well as to trade. For instance, one of the first railroads in the United States, “The Granite Railway” was supposed to employ massive stone rails. During the 1820s, the first railroads built are Mohawk and Hudson Railroads to link the Hudson River at Albany with the Mohawk River at Schenectady. The development of railroads and transportation infrastructure provided American commerce a great success and also gave people the opportunity to get new jobs.
The Children’s Aid Society
Charls Loring Brace established “The Children’s Aid Society” in order to help thousands of homeless children, the society built schools, lodging houses and place for devastated children. He wanted to change the way they were forced to live their lives, to provide them welfare and take the away from streets.
Orphan Train Riders
The First Orphan Train Riders driving fourteen boys in it arrived in Dowagiac, Michigan in 1854.
Irene Fitzgibbon
Sister Irene Fitzgibbon established Foundling Asylum in order to use her own methods to help foundlings and unwed mothers. Mothers in need were given the shelter and the children had the opportunity to have houses and also to be adopted legally.
Homeless children
Growth of homeless children, around 30.000 children desperately looking for a shelter. Bruce provided the possible solution for orphans to be sent to the families in the West instead of institutionalizing them. He thought they would lead better live on farms, working and helping instead of being on the streets. After they arrived, they would gather them and advertise them so that the families could adopt them.
The last train
The last train arrived in Sulphur, Springs Texas. Social work and charities became professions and they emerged a great deal, there was no need for orphan trains which lasted almost 75 years with Bruce as its head founder.
Orhan Train Heritage Society
Orhan Train Heritage Society was founded by Mary Ellen Johnson to provide information about legacy and lives of the Orphan Train experience. It tends to share information about Orphan Train riders as well as by archiving the newspaper, letters and photographs.