In the early twentieth century, American railroad companies faced new challenges. The railroad network had developed fully, broad political opposition was gaining teeth in new, enforceable federal legislation, and financial markets--first established to support railroad expansion--had begun to move beyond railroads. Railroad companies answered with a wide range of new managerial and scientific practices. Recent scholarship that goes beyond the traditional disciplinary separation of technological, political, managerial, economic, and scientific concerns has enabled historians to recognize that agricultural research pursued in concert with other institutions empowered railroads to address all of these challenges in the period between 1900 and 1930.

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