Like in Cape Charles, railways played a huge role in the construction of America, from the settlements in the west to the Industrial Revolution in the east. It was 1827 when the first railroad was constructed. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was the vision of John Stevens and catered to both freight and passenger transport.
As the map shows, a majority of the abandoned railways are located in the east, slowly expanding out west. This pattern makes sense with the early settlements, slow construction, the 1893 economic panic that halted many projects, and the eventual invention of the automobile and the airplane that would become the more popular modes of transportation.