Right after Christmas we took a little trip to Travel Town in a well-known park in our area that houses locomotives from the earliest days of travel. It was thrilling to see the steam and wood-burning engines attached to railcars that once barreled down the tracks with intent to reach the next city on the route in due and expected time.
We peeked into dining cars and strolled inside of rail cars that once accommodated many a traveler. It really got me to thinking about the cost of things way back when. What could the average American traveler afford? How much have costs changed over the years?
In 1869 Railroad First Class Fare from coast to coast including meals cost $250 to $300 round trip.
Wow, that’s sounds like a small fortune to me for most folks. Yet, coach fare (squeezing everyone into a crowded, smoky car) from Omaha to San Francisco was a more affordable $32.20. First Class Airfare today, is probably equally as costly in relation, whereas coach fare being more affordable. Yet, by 1886, less than twenty years later, First Class Rail fare between Kansas and California dropped to $12.00
I suppose fluctuations have to do with supply and demand. Just like today when a product is new and innovative, the cost skyrockets. The very first video camera/recorder we owned cost close to $800.00 whereas today, more than twenty years later, we can buy a much more advanced camera for less than $100.00
Here’s a list of some other costs I found interesting:
In 1874 Doc Holiday charged $3.00 for a tooth extraction in his Dallas dental practice. (I’m going to the dentist this week…for him to just look inside my mouth is about $100.00)
In 1875 Wyatt Earp earned $60.00 a month as police officer in Kansas.
In 1880 Pat Garrett earned $10.00 a day as special deputy US Marshal.
In 1869 admission to a concert at a fair in Lincoln, Nebraska cost fifty cents. (compared to the last Tim McGraw concert ticket I purchased at $125.00 … okay Tanya Hanson knows that’s not true…it was more like $150.00)
In 1880 the standard price of an infant delivery in Madison, Nebraska was $10.00 with an additional charge of $1.00 for a house visit outside of town. (We all know how much it costs to have a baby these days)
Butter was 18 cents per pound
Sugar was less than 1 cent per pound
Cheese (who doesn’t love cheese?) was 7 cents per pound
Rice was 6 cents per pound
Eggs were 20 cents a dozen.
Seeing these prices and how costs have gone up, don’t you wonder what a loaf of bread will cost in the year 2099? How much will it cost to have a baby or buy a car? What have you noticed lately that’s skyrocketed, ie: the cost of movie tickets these days? To offset these costs, post a comment here and be entered to win a FREE book.
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