The 1880's and 1890's were year of consolidation in the American railroads. They were the years of the great financiers such Jay Gould and JP Morgan, made fortunes buying and selling railroad stocks. Most of all however, they were the years that the rails became the backbone of American Commerce. You could now ship anything anywhere in the United States is a matter of days.. No longer was a producer limited to selling products in his city or even in his region, but the United States had become one national market.
It was also the beginning of the age of great name trains.