Conquering Time and Space


Conquering Time and Space


Industrial revolutions fundamentally transformed the world’s social and economic order. Beginning in Great Britain in the eighteenth century, European empires expanded industrialization into a global phenomenon that created spectacular wealth and unprecedent power for western countries, but also led to new social conflict and increased the gap between rich and poor. Industrialization also led to profound changes in the global environment.

Advances in transportation and telecommunications expanded the reach of industrial powers. The railroad and the telegraph allowed people to tap distant natural resources more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Contemporaries praised this “annihilation of time and space” and Omaha was central to this story. The first transcontinental telegraph began in Omaha and was completed in 1861. In 1863, the Union Pacific chose Omaha as the eastern terminus for the transcontinental railroad. By 1867, the United States had built the world’s largest railroad network, business leaders communicated from coast to coast, and Omaha stood at the center.

As railroads and the telegraph shrank time and space, cities expanded. Streetcars promoted urban growth and the rise of the first suburbs. The objects in this section show rail and the telegraph reshaped environments during this era of industrialization. As you move through this section of the exhibit, consider how transportation and telecommunication connects Omaha to the wider world and to global environments today.

Items in the Conquering Time and Space Collection


Ryan Leuty
Mary McClure
Figure 1

Kassidy Smith
Lindzey Sánchez

John Brennan
Devika Prasanth
Nebraska Tire and Rubber Company Certificate

Emma Baker
Rebecca Hare
Omaha Horse Railway Company Bond

Kaden Cloud
Zak Phosri
Mormon Camp Meeting, Council Bluffs

Cassi Adams
Laura Gagnon
Burlington Route Japanese Fan Advertisement

Kathleen Magee
Tressa Wahl
Standard Clock

Charlie Clarke
Thomas Haggstrom
“Swift Packing Company Crate.” Photograph. The Durham Museum, September 10, 2022.

Chaylea Mandina
Mark Wise