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In my “History of American Transportation” class this spring at Emory University’s Osher Institute—subtitled “From Clipper Ships to Rocket Ships”—all of the history of transportation can be summed up in five or six words: geology, westward, faster, money, and politics.

Geology controls ocean currents, fertile river valleys that made easy construction of canals and railways and, later, mountain passes in the West; canal barges were faster than wagons, and railroads faster than canals, etc. Many of these same principles apply to insurance claims as well.

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