Transportation Improvements and Land Values in the Antebellum United States: A Hedonic Approach

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We offer county-level estimates of the effect of water and rail access on the value of antebellum farms. Employing a hedonic model, we find that in 1850 average farm values in counties with access to a canal or navigable river were $2.68 per acre greater than counties without such access and $1.80 greater with rail access. In 1860 the figures were $3.75 for a canal or river access and $1.35 for rail. With average farm size around 200 acres and per capita national income roughly $150 during the decade, we conclude that on average transportation access yielded substantial economic gains.

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