Browsing Tag: Rail Transport (Industry)

    Talking Train Sign | Railroad Crossings Gates  | Train Safety | Lots & Lots of Trains
    Articles, Blog

    Talking Train Sign | Railroad Crossings Gates | Train Safety | Lots & Lots of Trains

    August 17, 2019


    Hello! Trains are cool and fun to watch, but you have to be careful whenever you and your family are around trains and train tracks. Safety is important. You know, every 3 hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train. So, when you see tracks, think train. There are all kinds of signs and signals to let you know when and where there are trains around. Want to see them? Okay. Just look at me. When you see a round yellow sign with a big black X on it, that means the road you’re on has train tracks up ahead. It means you should slow down and look and listen for any trains that might be coming. There are also big markings painting on the road that also warn of train tracks ahead, and where cars should stop safely. At the railroad tracks, there’s a cross-buck, a big white X with the words, “Railroad Crossing” on it. Just like me, the yellow warning sign, it means to look and listen for a train before crossing the tracks. There might also be a sign below it showing how many sets of tracks are at the crossing. Nearby, there should also be a rectangular blue sign with a phone number on it. If your car should get stuck on the tracks, get out immediately and call this number. This is the first number you should call, but if this sign isn’t around, call 911. Many railroad crossings have lights and a bell along with the cross-buck. When a train is coming, the red lights flash, the bell rings, and if there are gates, they come down across the road. It is illegal to drive around lowered gates, not to mention very, very dangerous. Some roads with a lot of traffic have an additional set of flashing lights mounted up high on what’s called a cantilever. This let’s everyone- cars, busses, and trucks- to see when there’s a train coming. Safety is important even if you’re walking, or riding your bike or skateboard. Never walk on or along railroad tracks. It can take a train more than a mile to stop when it’s running. So, if you can’t get off the tracks for any reason, you could be in big trouble. Anyway, railroad tracks, railyards, and trains are private property and you’re not supposed to be on them anyway. Never dash across the tracks as soon as a train passes. There could be another one coming from the other direction, and you’d never see them until it was too late. Wait until the gates go up and the lights are off before crossing the tracks. Trains are fun to watch, and they carry people, and all sorts of goods, all over the country. But, being too close to them can be dangerous. So, when you see tracks, think train. Captions by
    GetTranscribed.com

    I Wish I Were An Eagle
    Articles, Blog

    I Wish I Were An Eagle

    August 14, 2019


    I wish I were an eagle
    With strong wings Soaring high. All day long.
    Over the trains. Following them.
    Streaks of yellow. Ribbons weaving around bends Tracing lines on the ground Just beyond the ridge
    Or sunk low in a canyon Hidden somewhere, is always another I wish I were an eagle So I could always be with them Like someday, when I become a railroader Like my dad

    Community Ties: The Frisco Railroad in Southwest Missouri
    Articles, Blog

    Community Ties: The Frisco Railroad in Southwest Missouri

    August 14, 2019


    In 1876 a cooperation was formed that
    would be known as Saint Louis and San Francisco Railway Company.
    The Frisco Railroad was planned to be a transcontinental railroad and a series of acquisitions resulted in an ‘X’ shaped route that effectively serviced much
    America The hub of this organization was
    Springfield Missouri. Ironically the railroad never reach it’s California name sake, and in 1980 ceased operation under the FRISCO name. However, its legacy and memory in southwest
    Missouri remains popular, and enduring.

    The Iowa Divide:  Railroads of America 1
    Articles, Blog

    The Iowa Divide: Railroads of America 1

    August 13, 2019


    Well, we have a bright sunny early April
    morning here, starting out right at dawn so we can get a good start on the day here. Go out and do
    a day of train chasing and photographing. We’re starting here in Omaha,
    Nebraska. And our itinerary today should take
    us across the river into Iowa to see some of the Chicago
    Northwestern, as well as see some of the operation in the Omaha area with the
    Union Pacific and Burlington Northern as well. First thing we’re going to do is go by and
    pick up a copy of the train line up to see what trains are going to be
    operating on the Union Pacific today, and interchanging with the Chicago Northwestern. That will give us a good idea of where to be and when to
    see the action. We also have with us today our radio
    scanner so we can listen to the radio chatter between the
    dispatcher an the train crews, and that will also give us a good clue where to
    be and when so we will maximize our photo
    opportunities today. We’re spending the first part over
    morning here down at the the old Burlington and Union Station here in Omaha where the
    platform heel Burlington station which is used by the new Amtrak station that’s the first thing that we were able
    to catch today was an OK number six the California Zephyr coming
    into town that dream comes in spent more than a time here while they
    we feel it and water in the car take up some male line of today we have to an unusual situation
    that there’s a problem with one of the had
    every card this particular car was wet and catcalls the and a material handling car contains a sealed carpool US Mail heading for
    Chicago the speaker car had a mechanical problem
    and we set out you can see it behind me here and the station track and wallet they were am paper setting
    out that one card we saw Burlington Northern local heading west past protest the people
    here heading out to do some work probably for their from the brass cap
    with the west about the same time the Union Pacific
    local came out with some card at the Bagram
    pitches across the way here the Pacific you build me a station
    platform cracks to set up their feedback operation they
    load and unload truck trailers for rail cars as well as
    international shipping containers from there double stack railcars wanting to see a lot of here at omaha RK line double stacked containers we have a special arrangement union
    pacific the ship’s KY in containers for Nebraska be for the
    west coast for export to Japan to Lodos a out of the rail cars use a special Peter
    heavy equipment just nickname The Pink Panther with simply
    dries up picks up the container of the top of the
    stack and got guys over with the doctor casita to haul away to
    over the next go to be shortly after those trains went by we
    saw Burlington Northern coltrane heading on down the hill across the river toward iowa loader full call for over there those those Beatles
    cars and they’re praying cares about a hundred times call a
    put-together 110 card be about 14,000 train including the way the card pretty
    Happy Tree next train we Sollers a Burlington Northern local
    which is still off to my left over here it the way the Burlington Northern gets
    to Council Bluffs interchange card union
    pacific first step to back out of their yard down along the river in Omaha back out
    there ya right up next to them Amtrak station and then wait for
    clearance to cross the bridge over the Union Pacific yard Council
    Bluffs Iowa about the time they were backing up to
    Bro northern local the Union Pacific train came across the
    river with the a long string of the won’t have a car grain heading south
    this particular train it was called the Holiday Train contains
    cars for the Kansas City southern which we deliver to them Kansas City and they will handle and
    output to go hopefully from here will be able to
    continue our trek across this season the action over an hour we’re standing now at the east and a
    Missouri Valley Iowa this is the location the Chicago
    Northwestern where the line from Chicago split into
    two lines one line is down and I’ll to counsel us in Omaha the other line
    heads on West interchange with the union pacific at Fremont
    Nebraska heading out Easter here we hope to see a a lot of action on skyre northwestern
    right now there’s one train which is working its way into town from the East
    that we saw it before he set up our camera here
    which is a a double stack train coming from Chicago
    heading toward the Pacific Coast hope we will see it come through here a
    little while we were just came from the other end it down there is a a mixed freight train on the east and
    the West End it down rather that is a Billy switching in the yard
    and looks like our double-deck trains almost here never mind is a killer train is switching that was on the other
    end handed down here comes and okay looks like he’s backed up to pick
    up there and restrain and continue on westward as soon as he
    clears town like expect that our double stack train will be right behind him by by the well are manifest rain is the connected here and the brakeman put up
    the road to they made their task we have a little
    bit of a wait you gotta walk back to the phone and it rains they don’t have
    computers anymore and as soon as he finishes the the hike
    can know it will be ready to to move on out here and fancier are
    stacker come through just karmic strain on the sky northwestern
    that to mix manifest with alright everything
    is finished watching their cars in Missouri Valley backed up got the
    rest their train made their test they had to back up some
    more to head south or dome towards Council
    Bluffs the line along the river because the
    switch is right in the middle the yard so once
    he put his train together in the back all the way up in itself well you have an interesting situation
    on the Chicago Northwestern today they’re doing so track or western
    Missouri Valley here on the line to Fremont and that has everything kinda
    bottled up all the trains are trying to figure out
    where they’re gonna go and the dispatchers are pulling their hair out this particular train behind me right
    here is double stack train which normally would energy into the universe
    in a good pre-war and keep on going west to the west coast for these international containers which these
    containers get loan on ships for the Far East for Japan taiwan et cetera at the moment to the dispatcher told them that they’re
    going to have to wait a while because all the other trains are their
    bottled up with the track work so they just got out their welcome or go
    to Kentucky Fried Chicken & have some lunch so instead of waiting
    for them to get back with with that with the birds were going to get our car and keep growing he says
    he’ll be fine bomb but ball right after I left Missouri Valley the
    the first rain that we saw was a westbound coltrane amply trainers heading back for Powder River Basin Wyoming another black
    diamonds that was just a few miles east of town from there we went too long in Iowa they
    were hoping to Kathy westbound train based on what we
    saw on the singles but they changed the the lineup on a sin while we’re waiting for westbound
    eastbound snuck up on us we would get a really good picture of it was a eastbound on the
    stack train but more containers in the Far East End the heart ca from there we proceeded on past the town
    dunlap iowan got a nice nice shot have a westbound merchandise
    train wide writing to put on it getting in probably fourth Council Bluffs do switchover Argentina areas where are there in for standing now few miles west the town of Denison Iowa we’ve got about
    40 miles east from Missouri Valley following the Chicago
    Northwestern Railroad this airline which eventually makes it
    all the way east chicago very heavily traveled mainline and as a
    client eastern Missouri Valley its following the Boyer River which
    across a several times including on this one read right behind us the
    parents tend to follow rivers when they have to climb a grade
    gonna give you a you have any easier grade them to follow
    as they work their way over the ups and downs in the terrain a
    few miles the other side of Denison we reach a point called the iowa divide at their point any rain that falls
    Easter their drains into the Mississippi River Valley
    quality range of old west to their dreams in the Missouri River Valley also
    following the boy a river through this same area
    is another rail line called the Chicago Central
    Pacific it is basically a small regional where road
    goes from Chicago to Omaha in Sioux City Iowa he attends a
    parallel is going on at work to do this area but we don’t expect to see any
    trains on it today since you doing some maintenance work while we’re waiting for some action in
    the sky with Northwestern we have a good opportunity here to watch the maintenance crew do some work on the
    Chicago Central Pacific this particular gang that we see behind
    us here working is doing a process known as servicing
    and whining they have a low spot the track on the approach to the bridge here they come through with %uh three-step
    process first thing they do is come through the
    ballot II new rock ballad track got a low spot the next part of the process is to come
    through with the ballast regulator to distribute the ballast evenly a along
    the track finally coaching call it amber is
    brought in which lists the track to the right and drop small metal fingers down
    between the tide to push balance underneath the ties to
    support it the cracka wines no on on but but ok yeah we’re now standing on the grass today I
    would divide just east of Arcadia Iowa we have not gone about sit little over
    sixty miles east to Missouri Valley in the relative quiet about 300dpi from here we good drop east down towards the Ohio River Valley Canada Richard Boone Iowa go out there today yes same here now down great the train before it by the hot be back
    train with truck trailers on placard and if you were tri-level %ah to react
    to the front and hearing on mobile we follow that up from the town of
    Denison Iowa just a few miles to the west here where it met coltrane was heading
    westbound another MP heading back to Powder River Basin in by the way back to Omaha this afternoon we had some good luck in her saying
    we’ve got done it then I’ll Plaza unusual operate quiet guy who was
    an empty or crane and iron ore train on its way
    back to you this is the longest that went viral in
    the country we got the VM people Becky next year got fifty always eastern Missouri Valley down double Dec great K with that one internetworld shipping line with great
    containers from the party to the United States this
    taking the train started out go to Washington level the ship them out
    on his way to Chicago now we find ourselves back where we
    started the day behind me here union pacific CVS yard behind you Union Station and the other side it is
    the old Burlington station and were impact stop this morning what’s going on right now is they’re
    putting together the the victory was gonna hit Wes Brown for norplant away go with all the trailers containers are
    here a lot today 102 long exciting and fun-filled day

    Railroad Signals, reading and meanings, part 1: The basic three light system
    Articles, Blog

    Railroad Signals, reading and meanings, part 1: The basic three light system

    August 12, 2019


    Being a bit of a railfan before
    I actually became a railroader, I’d always been
    curious about the signals used on the railroads to
    control trains. I actually learned how to read
    them before I became a railway conductor, and I know a
    lot of railfans have always been curious as
    well, and of course, model railroaders wanting to put
    in functioning signals onto their layout. So I thought I’d put together
    this crash course on reading railway signals. Now –
    the signals I’m going to be showing are Canadian
    railway signals. A lot of railways in the US use
    these same signals, or similar, or the same concept
    of signals, but with different methods of
    display. We use coloured lights here in
    Canada, but the Raton subdivision in New Mexico
    still has semaphores. The Pennsylvania railroad, and
    Baltimore and Ohio Railroad use a cross between
    coloured signals and semaphores – the lights are
    coloured, and show the semaphore position of
    horizontal, 45 degrees, or vertical. The most common signals are the
    searchlight signals. These are a single
    light which gets focused through two lenses and
    then the light passes through a coloured glass
    to make it either red, yellow or green. You can
    see the three coloured glasses in this picture
    of the internal workings of a searchlight
    railroad signal. The holder gets pushed to the right
    or to the left by an electromagnet to put the
    yellow or green glass in front of the light. Notice that the middle glass is
    red – this is a fail safe. If the electromagnet
    fails, then the light reverts to red. More and more we are seeing LED
    signals, nicknamed Darth Vader signals because of
    the large sun hood. The principles are the same as
    what I’m going to show you here, only previously,
    a single light could display three different
    colours through the use of different coloured glass
    that would be moved in front of the light. The LED
    signals just have three different coloured LED
    lights under the sun shield, but you just simply read
    the signal as this bank of lights represents one
    signal: it’s either red, yellow or green. The signals use the colours
    you’ve grown accustomed to with traffic signals: Red,
    green and yellow. There are some signals coming
    out that are “lunar” – which is a bluish-white
    colour, mostly seen in the US but is being seen in
    Canada. Trains are slow to accelerate
    and slow to stop. I’d been in one emergency stop
    situation where our train was only seven cars and
    two locomotives, and only going 25 miles an hour. It
    was incredible how much space it took to stop that
    train with the brakes in full emergency –
    probably took about thousand feet to stop. Some heavy freight trains can
    book along at 75 miles an hour – it can take them
    over a mile, or two kilometers, to come to a
    stop in full emergency brake. The reason for this is
    the same reason trains are the second most
    efficient means of transportation. The contact area
    of steel wheels on steel rails is about the size of
    a dime. So literally, an entire train’s
    contact with the rails can be the equivelent surface
    area of a coffee table. That means very little
    friction, very easy and efficient moving of
    incredible amounts of weight. But the downside of very
    little friction and surface area is stopping
    that train. So we need to know what we need
    to do with the train MILES in advance so we can
    take appropriate action to control the train. It
    can take two miles or more to bring a freight train
    to a gentle, controlled stop – what we call a
    “service stop” so we need to know well in advance
    what’s happening up ahead. So there are basically two train
    control systems in Canada: OCS which is the
    Occupational Control System, or CTC which is the
    Centralized Traffic Control System. Up here in
    Northern Alberta where I work, it is all OCS which means
    that, just like air traffic control of aircraft, we
    get clearance from Rail Traffic Control to be on
    the rails. They give us the rails and assure that no
    one else is on OUR track, and we are controlled by
    Rail Traffic Control via the radio. Rail
    Traffic Control is known as RTC. CTC is the most efficient type
    of rail traffic control, and that’s where the
    signals come in. It’s controlled by RTC, but RTC gives
    instructions to the trains via these signals.
    The distance between the signals varies. On the CP
    line behind my house in Ontario, they had signals
    every two miles for instance, but in heavier traffic
    corridors the signals can be closer together. The base CTC signal is three
    lights on a mast. This signal, green over red over red,
    believe it or not, is “clear signal” – it means go
    full bore – whatever your speed limit is,
    you are permitted to go full speed ahead, the track
    is clear ahead of you. You might wonder why on earth do
    they have the red lights then? There are actually multiple
    reasons for this. First of all, understand that is it
    the COMBINATION of lights that communicate what to
    do. The combination of three lights, each of which
    could be either red, yellow or green. Secondly, these
    are mechanical devices – the light bulbs can
    blow out, the mechanics inside that change the
    colour of the light can break. Using three
    lights, we can get an indication of what we need to do
    as much as three signals in advance. So at two
    mile spacings, we could know six miles in advance
    if we have to slow down or stop. But – if the two lower lights
    aren’t lit up, then we’d have to guess what the
    signal combination is! We can’t do that – our lives,
    and the lives of others are on the line here,
    there’s no guessing allowed. So consider the two red
    lights as “placeholders.” They’re lit, so
    we know that they are functioning, but they are
    showing red which effectively means we can ignore
    them as they are below the green signal. The three signal heads each
    represent three different speeds: The top light
    is for high speed – basically whatever the maximum
    speed for that track is. The second head is medium
    speed. The bottom head is for slow speed. Medium
    speed is an actual speed – it is designated as 30
    mph. Slow speed is also an actual speed – 15 mph. So if this signal means track
    speed, then what does this signal mean? You might have
    guessed – it means medium speed. So you should not
    be going any faster than 30 mph when you pass this
    signal. This signal would mean? You guessed it –
    slow speed, or 15 mph. You should not be going any
    faster than 15 mph when you pass this signal. If all three are red, you could
    probably guess what that means. Yup, it means stop. This is slightly simplified for
    instructional purposes, but there you have it:
    your first four signals, and the basics of the
    CTC signal system. But remember – we’re a train,
    and we need to know MILES in advance of what’s ahead
    of us. We need to know long in advance what we’re
    going to need to do. So we’re trucking along at
    track speed, and we come to this signal: Remembering that the uppermost
    non-red light is the one we always want to pay
    attention to, and we ignore the other red lights as
    placeholders. Basically this signal means
    we’re okay to pass this signal at track speed, but it’s
    yellow – warning us that the next signal is going to
    be a stop signal. This signal is called “clear to
    stop,” because we are clear to proceed past this
    signal at track speed, but we need to prepare to
    stop at the next signal. We were just given two
    miles warning of what the next signal is
    displaying, and simultaneously told what we can
    do at THIS signal. Knowing what you now know, you
    might just be able to figure out what this signal
    means. You guessed it: Medium to stop.
    So if you’re driving the train, you must pass
    this signal going no faster than medium speed, or
    30 mph, and expecting the next signal to be
    a stop signal, so you’ll be preparing to stop. Now there is one small catch to
    this next signal: The slow speed light is flashing
    yellow. There’s a reason for that which we’ll get
    to in a minute, but let me just tell you that the
    slow speed head flashing yellow means slow, and
    because it’s yellow, that means the next
    signal will be a stop signal. So this signal is “slow
    to stop.” You can pass this signal going no more
    than 15 miles and hour, preparing to stop at the
    next signal. While we’re on this signal, I’m
    going to explain one of the weird signals. Let’s
    say the yellow light was solid yellow, not
    flashing. This is very similar to the slow signal, but
    with a further RESTRICTION. This signal is
    called restricting signal for restricted speed. You
    cannot go faster than slow speed – 15 mph, but
    the further restriction is that you must be
    on the lookout for a switch lined against you,
    broken rails, and able to stop within half the distance
    of vision. Heres why: If I can only see 1,000
    feet ahead of me, because of a curve with trees on
    the embankment for instance, I have to drive the
    train at a slow enough speed so that when I see
    something on the tracks, I can stop in 500 feet –
    HALF of the distance that I could see. Why
    is this? It’s because that something on the
    tracks may be another train – moving in the other
    direction! So if he is also driving at a speed in which
    he can stop in half the distance he can see,
    then we both stop in half the distance of sight,
    meaning we meet in the middle and don’t collide. Now again, remember – this
    system is built up on a mechanical system. Mechanical
    systems can fail. So let’s take a look at our slow to
    stop signal. It’s a flashing yellow signal on the
    slow speed head. There’s a little relay inside
    the control box that flashes that light. Let’s say
    that relay burns out, and the light no longer flashes.
    It is now a solid yellow. What has just happened?
    It is a fail safe system – we HAD a less
    restricting signal – we were just limited to a maximum of 15
    miles an hour. But now because it’s a solid yellow,
    it’s now a restricting signal which is more
    restrictive than a slow signal: we have to slow
    down to whatever speed the terrain demands. We need to
    be extra cautious and be able to stop within half
    the distance of vision. So those are the two
    reasons why the flashing yellow light means slow
    speed. you’ll notice this very
    carefully thought out trend as we start to get into flashing
    lights on the signals: If the flashing fails,
    the signal simply reverts to a more restrictive
    signal. A flashing yellow light on the
    top now tells us what’s going on TWO signals
    ahead of us. It’s yellow and on the top head,
    meaning we can blow by this signal at full speed ahead
    – but it’s yellow, warning us that up ahead is a
    stop signal. It’s flashing, telling us that the
    stop signal is TWO signals ahead. So this signal
    will be a flashing yellow, meaning advance clear to
    stop. We have now been given advance warning that
    in FOUR miles we’re going to have to stop. The next
    signal will be solid yellow on the high speed
    head, meaning clear to stop. We can blow by that
    signal at track speed if we want, preparing to stop at
    the next signal. Now let’s say that the flashing
    relay melts down in the control box again, and our
    light now stays a solid yellow. What has happened? It’s a fail safe system: It’s
    the wrong signal, because we would read it as
    clear to stop – we would pass this light thinking
    we had to stop in two miles, not four miles. We
    would get to the next signal, expecting it to be a
    stop signal, but it would turn out to be a clear to
    stop signal as well. No bigee – we carry on at
    track speed to the next signal, prepared to stop. So now that we’ve seen how the
    signals can indicate both what to do NOW, and what to
    expect at the next signal, let’s go back to our
    first three signals again: This one is a clear signal.
    Proceed at track speed. This one as we discussed is a
    medium signal, but it is green – indicating that the
    next signal is a clear signal. We must slow down
    and pass our ENTIRE train by this signal going no
    faster than medium speed, then we can speed up to
    track speed. The reason for the medium speed
    will no doubt be because at that signal, the
    train will pass through a switch. You can’t just go
    blazing through those switches at high speed! You’ll
    take the train right off the rails because it can’t
    take the corner at high speed. But this switch is
    designed to be transited at 30 mph or less. So,
    you pass this signal at medium speed,
    indicated by the medium speed head. The light is green
    which tells us that the next signal we encounter
    will be a clear signal. It’s the same thing if we
    encounter a green light on the slow speed head. The
    switch will have an even harsher curve to it,
    designed for a train going 15 mph or slower. However,
    the light is green, telling us that the next
    signal will be a clear signal. So once our entire
    train has gone through the switch, we can now
    accelerate to track speed, knowing that the next
    signal is a clear signal. This three head signal system is
    the foundation for all of the other signals I’m
    going to show you in this series of videos. Just keep
    this three head system in mind as you learn the
    other indications – high speed on the top, medium
    speed in the middle, slow speed on the bottom. In the next video, we’ll discuss
    two headed and single headed signals, the
    reasoning behind them and how to read them.

    B&O Railroad Museum TV Network: The Turntable (January 2015)
    Articles, Blog

    B&O Railroad Museum TV Network: The Turntable (January 2015)

    August 11, 2019


    Hi, I’m Michael Gross, host of the B&O Railroad Museum
    Television Network. I’m standing on the turntable in the
    center of the B&O Railroad Museum’s National Historic Landmark
    1884 Roundhouse. When this sixty-foot wooden
    turntable was properly balanced, one person can turn a locomotive or
    railroad car weighing up to 75 tons all by hand without any assistance. The B&O Railroad Museum’s
    Roundhouse was built in 1884. Designed as a passenger car repair shop, it houses 22 bays and covers
    almost an acre of land. The most important functional feature in
    the Roundhouse is the turntable. Originally used to turn
    and position passenger cars into any one of the 22 bays in the
    building for necessary repair work. Today the turntable is used for placing the
    museum’s historic collection on display and on special occasions,
    demonstrations are scheduled teaching visitors how a turntable works. The museum’s turntable is
    60 feet in diameter and located in the centre the Roundhouse. The width was dictated by the size
    of the B&O’s passenger cars when the roundhouse was built, which≈ere approximately sixty feet in length. The turntable is actually a bridge made of two wrought iron girders that support
    a pair of rails and wooden decking. The entire bridge rotates freely
    on a central pivot mechanism located below the Roundhouse
    floor in a circular pit. This pivot mechanism is eight inches wide and sits in the cylinder lined with bronze. It supports the entire turntable
    including the bridge, decking, and track structure and allows the turntable to rotate 360 degrees. The pit consists of a stone
    and brick lined outer wall and a dirt floor that slopes
    from the outer wall down to the central pivot mechanism. At the base of the outer wall is an
    approximately two foot by one foot stone sill that supports a single rail running the
    circumference of the circular pit. The purpose at the turntable’s ring rail is to support the turntable when rail cars are brought onto and off of the turntable. The support is provided by
    two pairs of wheels located at opposite ends of the bridge. The wheels make contact with the rail as weight is placed on the turntable bridge. This is different from modern turntables where the guide wheels rest on
    the ring rail when not in use and the entire time the railcar is rotated. In fact, the only way the museum’s
    turntable will function is if the turntable bridge is free-floating with the guide wheels off of the ring rail. Stay tuned for more of the B&O Railroad
    Museum Television Network. As built, the turntable bridge sat in an open pit without the wooden decking. The decking, known as an apron, was added because management determined
    that it was not very efficient for the Roundhouse workers to
    navigate around the open pit. The wooden decking has been
    replaced several times, the most recent occurred in 2004 as part of the Roundhouse reconstruction
    project to repair the building after the 2003 President’s Day snowstorm
    which caused the roof to collapse. The decking is made of six inch wide
    tongue and groove oak wood, and there’s an opening in the decking
    that allows access to the pit. There are two methods to keep the turntable
    stabilized and safe to walk on. When not being used the turntable is secured by lowering a series of jacks onto the ring rail. The jacks are accessed through
    small wooden holes in the decking and screwed into place. When the turntable is being used it must
    be secured or locked in place when moving rail cars on and off the bridge. This is accomplished through the
    use of wrought iron sliding bars located on either end of the bridge. The bars slide into slots on the
    outer edge of the turntable and keep it from moving sideways during
    loading and unloading. Both methods are used to secure the
    turntable when not in use. Operating the turntable is relatively simple
    if the turntable is balanced properly. The weight of a rail car must be equally
    distributed on the bridge and perfectly balanced to allow the turntable
    bridge to float and function properly. When properly balanced, one person can
    turn a rail car weighing up to 75 tons by pushing the table in the
    direction they want to go. Being off by as little as an inch can make it impossible to turn. Early images show the use of a pulley system that allowed a worker to pull a
    passenger car onto the turntable. today the museum staff uses a specially
    modified tractor to move heavier equipment and smaller pieces are moved
    on and off the table my hand. Rail Operations staff at the
    B&O Railroad Museum demonstrate this example of history in
    motion on special occasions. Check the museum’s website
    for dates and times. I’m Michael Gross, and thanks for watching
    the B&O Railroad Museum Television Network. Interested in learning more about the
    B&O Railroad Museum and Ellicott City Station? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! With daily updates on upcoming events, coupons, photographs, history, and things to do in Baltimore, you’ll never be off track.

    Caltrain 150th Documentary – The San Francisco and San Jose Railroad
    Articles, Blog

    Caltrain 150th Documentary – The San Francisco and San Jose Railroad

    August 11, 2019


    It’s a very significant story for the Peninsula and really California and the West. If you can imagine California was only born 14 years before the railroad was extended down to San Jose. The actual railroad that started on the Peninsula was, of course, the San Francisco and San Jose railway. It had been on its fourth reorganization before work actually commenced in 1860. And the work started at Palo Alto both ways at San Francisquito Creek I believe. If you could imagine what the Peninsula and San Francisco looked like in 1850 this improvement by 1864 was not even imaginable. In that famous year of 1849 transportation down the Peninsula consisted of stage coach service, and some… paddle wheel boats that could maneuver down the Bay. The stage coach service was such that it was very expensive; $32 in that year of 1849, and also very slow. It would take nine hours to get from San Francisco to San Jose. And that was when conditions were pretty good. So the idea of a commute, of course, was completely out and even the basics of transportation were not in good order. San Jose was a long way from San Francisco the journey was not one to be lightly undertaken as there was no road worthy of the name. You might spend hours roaming around in search of a passable route and just when you thought you’d found one the fog would roll in. Then you had a gloomy choice to make: you could keep going and probably spend the night driving blindly around in circles. Or you could just stay put until the ceiling lifted the next morning. Such was El Camino Real between California’s metropolis and it’s new capital when the first legislature met in the close of 1849. The King’s Highway of the Spanish Days. Little work had been done on it since, furthermore any improvement seemed a matter for the far distant future. County treasuries had no funds for roads despite all California’s gold. That was going east almost as fast as it came down from the mountains. Even the legislature was something of a gamble, for California was not yet formally a state. “How grand it would be,” said the travel-worn solons as they assembled, were there only a railroad North to the big City. San Jose, you see, at the time, 1850, was state capital. And so there was a clamor in San Francisco and throughout California that there’d be a linkage of San Francisco and San Jose through rail. Rail was the most efficient transportation being pioneered now on the East Coast and some kind of transportation now was desirable for the West. Don’t forget, this is… the completion of San Francisco, San Jose Railroad was five years in front of the Transcontinental Railroad So this was progressive thinking. It began actually in that year of 1850 Business interests in San Francisco began to talk about the possibilities of linking San Francisco and San Jose. And there were three tries before finally the San Francisco, San Jose Railroad was incorporated in 1860 to get this moving. In july 1860 a fourth and final company was born. Again a president was provided by the bench; Judge Timothy Dame. But the real power in the new setup was the secretary Peter Donahue. Donahue was a 49er who had found more riches in iron than in gold. A few weeks in the gold fields had been quite enough for him. The close of 1849 found Peter Donahue back in San Francisco running California’s first foundry and machine shop in a tent on Montgomery Street. From this tiny air-conditioned start had grown the great Union Ironworks, humming with prosperity at First and Mission streets. Henry Newhall, his good friend, and the City’s leading auctioneer, joined him in the venture. These three; the mechanic, the auctioneer, and the judge, proceeded filing with a few associates to build the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad. They were able to get private subscription to construct the railroad but very importantly was some tax money that came their way. The people of San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara County voted bond monies for this project. $300,000 from San Francisco $100,000 from San Mateo and $200,000 from Santa Clara County. This made construction possible. At first construction went very well. Track was laid down pretty rapidly and many felt that there would be an early completion to the railroad but several things got in the way. Severe winters slowed down construction, but the most important aspect of delay was the Civil War. It made getting iron very difficult. Other kinds of materials were hard to get and this did delay construction a bit. But when you think that this this project still is completed within three years, well four years, that this is still pretty good progress. The San Francisco, San Jose Railroad experimented for the first time, in railroads anyways, with the use of Chinese labor and it proved successful. This was a lesson that Governor Stanford did not ignore. And then when it came time for him and his three partners, the “Big Four,” to put forward this Transcontinental Railroad the lessons learned by the San Francisco, San Jose Railroad and the usage of Chinese labor was well put. And you have to remember that the Civil War was going on and those that weren’t being taken up by the service were in various kinds of industries that were essential to not just the war effort, but to keep California’s economy going and so labor was difficult. When the San Francisco to San Jose Railroad was completed it was actually California’s third railroad, but really this San Francisco, San Jose Railroad was first to be a real substantial and probably the first that you could qualify as a commuter railroad. As those that were creating the industrial revolution desired to get their families out of the squalor of the 19th century city the railroad tracks were allowing them to do that. There was a party in October of 1863 to mark the occasion that the railroad had made it from San Francisco to Mayfield, which is in today’s Palo Alto, and then in January of 1864 Rails were completed to San Jose. The route is nearly straight. There are no formidable hills. The distance from the summit of the mountain to the Bay is not more than ten miles. And our climate is so dry that in ordinary years scarcely a stream which crossed by the road contains enough water to drive a mill. The principal creeks commencing at the North are Islis, Cupertino, San Mateo, Redwood, San Francisquito and Guadalupe. The latter is honored with the name of river While the road is not so crooked as most of the roads in the Eastern States It is still far from straight. In the first seven miles from the Mission the longest straight stretches a mile. For five miles out from the Mission the general course is a little west of south until the bank of the San Bruno Mountain is turned, to adopt a military phrase, and thence the course is southeast with many straight stretches three or four miles long. At the point of San Bruno Mountain the wide Pacific Ocean, distant two miles, is visible with its rolling surf from the cars and looking northward we see the steep coast and mountains beyond the Golden Gate. After passing the San Bruno Mountain we are almost constantly in sight of the Bay. The hills are entirely bare until we reached the 17-Mile House where chaparral and evergreen oak appear in the canyons and hollows. At San Mateo we see deciduous oaks and a few bay trees on the plain. Near Belmont you see the comb of the mountain, or Sierra, serrated with tall redwood trees. And beyond Redwood City we pass through a dense natural grove of deciduous oak trees hanging full of grey moss and mistletoe with an abundant undergrowth of the poison rhus, the leaves of which are now red and ready to fade. – Daily Alta California, October 18th, 1863. They got the railroad pretty much up and running about 1860 actually 1864, I’m sorry. Southern Pacific, well actually the Big Four; Huntington, Stanford, Crocker, and Hopkins, they had their finger in the pie quite early. By 1868 they are pretty much in control of the railroad, that was formalized in 1870. So from that point forward they were running this railroad between San Francisco and San Jose. And the railroad became a success. They did a freight service, and it’s the second oldest railroad in West of the Mississippi. The commuter service was established and it went from there to what we have today a double tracked line with a modern signal system and a railroad that’s carrying 50,000 passengers a day. When I commuted on it after World War II it was carrying 20,000 a day. So this railroad has come a long ways.

    The Allegheny Portage Railroad
    Articles, Blog

    The Allegheny Portage Railroad

    August 10, 2019


    WELL, YOU SURE DON’T LOOK
    MUCH LIKE A RAILROAD ANYMORE. AND NOT MUCH OF YOU LEFT. I GUESS WE’VE ALL SEEN
    BETTER DAYS. WELL, THAT’S LIFE — YOU GROW UP, YOU WORK HARD,
    YOU TUMBLE BACK INTO THE EARTH. [ Laughing ]
    BUT BY GOSH, WE HAD OUR DAY,
    DIDN’T WE ? SIX BOATS — SIX CANAL BOATS WE’D PULL UP
    THAT STEEP INCLINE EVERY HOUR. BIG BOATS ! PUT ‘EM ON A FLATBED, HAUL ‘EM UP
    OVER THE ALLEGHENY MOUNTAINS, DROP ‘EM IN THE WATER
    ON THE OTHER SIDE. SEND ‘EM ON THEIR WAY
    TO PHILADELPHIA OR PITTSBURGH OR WHICHEVER WAY THEY WERE GOING
    IN THE FIRST PLACE. YOU TAKE A CANAL BOAT,
    YOU PUT IT ON THE TRAIN, YOU TAKE IT OVER THE MOUNTAINS. THAT’S UNBELIEVABLE ! YOU TALK ABOUT OVERCOMING
    WHAT NATURE PUT IN YOUR WAY — WELL, LOOK OUT ! YOU CAN’T BLOCK PROGRESS, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU GOT
    A WHOLE COUNTRY OF PEOPLE CHOMPING AT THE BIT, WANTING TO GO WEST OR SEND A BOATLOAD OF SUPPLIES
    IN THAT DIRECTION. WELL, NOW’S NOW. WE MAY BE FALLING APART, BUT BY GOSH, FOR SOME 20 YEARS
    WE HAD A TIME OF IT, DIDN’T WE ? SHOULD HAVE WROTE
    A BOOK ABOUT IT — “THE ALLEGHENY PORTAGE RAILROAD”
    BY EDGAR WEST. OH, HOW WOULD I START IT ? AS A YOUNG MAN,
    WAY BACK IN THE ’20s, MY OCCUPATION
    WAS TO LEAD OUR MULES ALONG THE CANAL TOW PATH. I LIVED WITH MY FAMILY —
    MULES INCLUDED — ABOARD THE CANAL BOAT. AND WE HAULED CARGO
    BACK AND FORTH ON A CANAL BUILT ALONGSIDE OF A RIVER THAT WAS JUST TOO CANTANKEROUS
    TO RUN A BOAT ON, WHAT WITH THE RAPID
    AND THE WATERFALL. AND WORKING THE CANALS — THAT WASN’T AS EASY
    AS IT LOOKED — NO SIR ! WELL, I MEAN MOST OF THE TIME
    BETWEEN THE LOCKS IT WAS UNEVENTFUL, EXCEPT WHEN ONE OF THE MULES
    FELL IN THE WATER. AND THEN YOU HAD
    YOUR HANDS FULL. AND WHEN YOU CAME
    TO ONE OF THE LOCKS, YOU HAD TO THINK FAST
    AND ACT EVEN QUICKER. TEAM YA! YOU UNHITCH THE MULE
    FROM THE BOAT, TIE HIM UP, RUN HELP GUIDE THE BOAT
    INTO THE LOCK, AND THEN TIE HER OFF QUICK SO SHE WOULDN’T GO
    BUSTING THROUGH THE GATES AT THE OTHER END OF THE LOCK. OF COURSE, THE LOCKKEEPER
    WAS THERE TO HELP, MAYBE A BYSTANDER OR TWO. HE’D OPEN THE WATER GATES
    ON THE OTHER SIDE. DOWN WOULD GO THE WATER LEVEL
    AND THE BOAT. REAL FAST, IT WAS ! SOMETIMES THERE’D BE NEAR
    A HALF-DOZEN LOCKS IN A MILE. HARD WORK. BUT IT SURE WAS THE ONLY WAY
    TO TAKE A BOAT DOWNHILL — OR UPHILL, FOR THAT MATTER ! [ HINGES CREAK ] OH, THERE WAS SOME FUN
    TO BE HAD — MAYBE THE LOCKKEEPER
    HAD A DAUGHTER TO SPARK. OR MAYBE YOU COULD LISTEN
    TO THE LOCAL GOSSIP. Man: DID YOU HEAR
    WHAT PENNSYLVANIA’S GONNA DO ? Woman: WHAT NOW ? Man: GONNA DIG A CANAL
    ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE STATE. Woman: DON’T PENNSYLVANIA
    HAVE ENOUGH CANALS ? Man: NOT EAST TO WEST
    THEY DON’T, LIKE NEW YORK. IT’S GONNA GO FROM COLUMBIA,
    NEAR HARRISBURG, STRAIGHT THROUGH TO PITTSBURGH. Woman: OH ?
    WHAT’S IT GOING TO DO WHEN IT GETS
    TO THE ALLEGHENY MOUNTAINS ? Man: FROM WHAT I HEARD, THEY’RE
    GONNA FIGURE THAT ONE OUT WHEN THEY GET DUG THAT FAR. Woman: WELL,
    THAT’S FLAT OUT CRAZY ! WHY DO WE NEED ANOTHER CANAL
    ANYWAY ? Man: WELL, NEW YORK STATE’S
    ALREADY GOT THE ERIE CANAL RUNNING ALL THE WAY WEST. AND MARYLAND’S FIXING
    TO DIG A CANAL FROM WASHINGTON OUT WEST. PRETTY SOON… Woman: WELL, PRETTY SOON WON’T BE ANYBODY TRAVELING
    ACROSS OUR STATE, THAT’S WHAT. Man: THEY’LL BE TRAVELING WEST USING THE NORTH OF
    OR SOUTH OF PENNSYLVANIA ROUTE, AND WE’LL BE LEFT OUT. West: COULD ALL THIS BE TRUE ? A BUNCH OF FOLKS OTHERWISE THOUGHT TO BE
    IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS DECIDING TO DIG A CANAL
    ACROSS THE WHOLE STATE, THEN UP ONE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN,
    DOWN THE OTHER ? HO ! WELL THAT MIGHT BE
    INTERESTING TO WATCH. SO I DECIDED
    TO GO OUT ON MY OWN, MAYBE MAKE SOMETHING OF MYSELF. AFTER ALL, I WAS ALMOST 17. AND THAT SPRING OF 1831,
    I LEFT MY PARENTS. I WALKED ON OVER
    TO TAKE A LOOK AT THAT MOUNTAIN. GIT ! GIT ! I FOUND MYSELF WORKING ! GIT ! I HAD A JOB ! THAT’S THE DUMBEST THING
    I EVER DID ! SEE, TRYING TO CROSS
    THOSE MOUNTAINS IN GOOD WEATHER WAS A TRIAL. BUT IN BAD WEATHER ? HO ! ANYBODY WHO COULD FIGURE
    A BETTER WAY TO GET PEOPLE AND WAGONS
    OVER THESE MOUNTAINS DESERVED A PRIZE. THERE WERE ROCKS AND RUTS
    AND RAIN AND MUD EVERYWHERE TO SLOW YOU DOWN. AND WHEN THE WEATHER CLEARED, THE BLACK GNATS
    AND RATTLESNAKES CAME OUT. NOW WITH THIS KIND OF TROUBLE, ONLY HIGH-PRICED CARGO
    LIKE FURS AND WHISKEY COULD EVER EXPECT
    TO MAKE A PROFIT. NO WONDER SMART FOLKS
    WERE USING THE ERIE CANAL. FINALLY
    I CAME UPON PITTSBURGH — “GATEWAY TO THE WEST”
    PEOPLE CALLED IT. DOWNTOWN, FOLKS WERE BEING RECRUITED
    FOR THE NEW CANAL PROJECT. AND THE WHOLE THING
    WAS HEADED UP BY A FELLOW
    NAMED SYLVESTER WELCH. AN ENGINEER HE WAS. Welch: GENTLEMEN,
    IT IS ALL QUITE SIMPLE. NOW FOLLOW ALONG ON THIS MAP. THE CANAL RUNS
    FROM PITTSBURGH TO JOHNSTOWN. AT JOHNSTOWN, THERE BEGINS
    A 36-MILE RAILROAD SECTION THAT TAKES TRAVELERS AND GOODS
    OVER THE MOUNTAINS. A SERIES OF 10 INCLINED PLANES ALLOW THE PASSENGER CARS
    AND BOATS TO BE HAULED UP
    AND LET BACK DOWN BY STEAM POWER. THEN WHEN THEY REACH
    HOLLIDAYSBURG ON THE EASTERN SIDE, THEY’RE SET BACK
    INTO THE NEW CANAL AND SPED ON THEIR WAY
    TOWARD PHILADELPHIA — A JOURNEY OF FIVE DAYS
    COMPARED WITH 23 DAYS BY WAGON. AN AMAZING TIME FOR A VOYAGE
    OF SOME 394 TOTAL MILES. ♪ POOR OLD REUBEN RANZELL ♪ ♪ RANZELL, ME BOYS,
    RANZELL ♪ ♪ POOR OLD REUBEN RANZELL ♪ ♪ RANZELL, ME BOYS,
    RANZELL ♪ WELL, I PRETTY MUCH KNEW ALL
    I CARED TO KNOW ABOUT CANALS, SO I HIRED ON, WORKING ON WHAT
    THEY’RE CALLING AMERICA’S FIRST
    RAILROAD TUNNEL — STAPLE BEND TUNNEL. AND THAT WAS
    THE FIRST BIG HURDLE IN THE RAILROAD
    SCHEME OF THINGS. AND WE HAD TO DIG 900 FEET STRAIGHT THROUGH
    A MOUNTAIN OF ROCK. AND WE HAD TO MAKE A HOLE BIG ENOUGH
    TO DRIVE A LOCOMOTIVE THROUGH. WELL, IT WAS HARD WORK ! AND YOU SHARED
    YOUR BED AND BOARD WITH AN ASSORTMENT
    OF CHARACTERS AND CRITTERS. THERE WERE DRUNKARDS
    AND RATTLESNAKES AND BLACK GNATS EVERYWHERE. BUT MAKING 47.5 CENTS A DAY
    KIND OF EASED THE PAIN. AND IT WASN’T LONG BEFORE I WAS
    PUTTING DOWN STONE SLEEPERS — THE FOUNDATION — ON TOP OF WHICH THEY SET THE
    TIES AND EDGE RAILS THEMSELVES. IT WAS PRETTY HEAVY WORK,
    BUT I COULD TAKE IT. AND SEE,
    ABLE-BODIED MEN COULD GET WORK ALL ALONG
    THE MAIN LINE CANAL ROUTE. THAT’S WHAT THEY CALLED IT —
    MAIN LINE. WELL, SOMEHOW
    ALL THE RAILROAD TRACKS WERE SPIKED INTO THE GROUND — THROUGH THE STAPLE BEND TUNNEL,
    OVER THE CONEMAUGH VIADUCT, UP ONE MOUNTAIN, ACROSS THE TOP,
    DOWN THE NEXT VALLEY, THEN BACK AGAIN. IT WAS ALMOST A YEAR
    BEFORE WE WERE GOING TO OPEN UP, AND PEOPLE —
    ALREADY THEY’RE ANTICIPATING HOW THIS MAIN LINE IS GONNA BE
    A BIG BENEFIT FOR EVERYBODY. Man: IT TOOK ME 23 DAYS TO COME FROM PHILADELPHIA
    HERE TO PITTSBURGH. NOW IT WILL TAKE ONLY FIVE DAYS
    TO GET BACK HOME. Man: WITH THIS NEW MAIN LINE, PHILADELPHIA’S PORTS
    WILL AGAIN PROSPER, QUITE POSSIBLY
    OVERTAKING NEW YORK. CERTAINLY BALTIMORE
    WON’T HAVE A CHANCE. Man:
    I TELL YOU, MY FRIENDS — PEOPLE MOVING WEST WILL COME THROUGH
    OUR FINE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND THAT WILL BE GOOD FOR EVERY
    MAN, WOMAN, CHILD, AND TOWN ALONG THE NEW MAIN LINE CANAL. Woman: I JUST CAN’T WAIT. THE MAIN LINE
    WILL SURELY BRING US A BETTER SELECTION
    OF HATS AND DRESSES, AND PERHAPS A NEW PREACHER. West: JUST AFTER THE SPRING THAW
    IN MARCH 1834, THE ALLEGHENY PORTAGE RAILROAD
    OPENED FOR BUSINESS. I BET IT WAS FOR A MONTH BEFORE THERE WERE HANDBILLS
    POSTED EVERYWHERE, TALKING ABOUT THE FAST NEW SERVICE AND LOW TOLL. WHY, EVEN THE LOCAL NEWSPAPERS CAME OUT AHEAD OF TIME SO THEY COULD INFORM THEIR READERS ALL ABOUT IT. AND BY THIS TIME,
    I FOUND ME A REAL GOOD JOB — PERMANENT KIND, SORTA — WORKING AT THE BOTTOM
    OF PLANE NUMBER SIX. AND I WAS THERE
    AND SOME REPORTER CAME OVER. HE ASKED ME WHAT I DID, SO I TOLD HIM
    JUST HOW I FIGURED IN THIS PLAN TO GET CANAL BOATS
    OVER THE MOUNTAIN. Man: EXCUSE ME, SIR.
    MAY I HAVE YOUR NAME ? West: EDGAR WEST. YOU SEE,
    A BOAT COMES ALONG TO JOHNSTOWN, AND WE FLOAT HER
    ONTO A RAILROAD CAR. SEE, WE’RE USING THESE NEW
    SECTIONAL CANAL BOATS NOW — WELL, SOMETIMES — AND THEY WERE INVENTED
    BY THIS FELLOW JOHN DOUGHERTY. AND WE PULL IT OUT OF THE WATER
    WITH A STATIONARY STEAM ENGINE. THEN WE PULL IT ALONG
    THE LONG, SLOW GRADE TO THE BOTTOM OF AN INCLINE,
    LIKE THIS ONE HERE. AND THEN WE HITCH THEM UP TO
    A CONTINUOUS 3.5-INCH HEMP ROPE THAT MOVES ON ROLLERS
    BETWEEN THE RAILS. NOW THAT CABLE IS BEING PULLED
    BY ANOTHER STEAM ENGINE AT THE TOP OF THE INCLINE. ONCE WE GET THE BOAT UP TOP,
    WE UNHITCH IT, WE PULL IT ALONG THE FLAT SUMMIT
    OF THE MOUNTAIN TO THE NEXT INCLINE —
    NEXT PLANE, WHERE IT GOES UP
    AGAIN AND AGAIN UNTIL, OF COURSE, IT STARTS GOING BACK DOWN
    THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. AND THAT’S ABOUT, OH, 36 MILES. THAT SHOULD TAKE
    FROM 6 TO 10 HOURS. Man: THANK YOU, MR. WEST. West: MUCH OBLIGED. NOW THAT’S THE WAY
    THINGS WERE SUPPOSED TO WORK. BUT YOU SEE, WE HAD MORE THAN A MILE OF ROPE
    RUNNING IN A CIRCLE, HAULING CARS UP THE INCLINE
    ON ONE SIDE AND LETTING OTHER CARS
    DOWN ON THE OTHER TRACK TO BALANCE THE LOAD. BUT EVEN 3.5 INCHES
    OF THE FINEST RUSSIAN HEMP COULD ONLY TAKE
    SO MUCH WEAR AND TEAR. AND TEAR IT DID EVERY SO OFTEN. WHY, THE MINUTE YOU FELT
    THE JOLT OF THAT ROPE BREAKING, YOU KNEW
    DEATH WAS ROLLING TOWARD YOU. YOU GOT OUT OF THE WAY, AND YOU HOPED
    EVERYBODY ELSE DID TOO. [ SNAP ! ] SOME DIDN’T. DEATH… HAD PLENTY OF TIME
    TO MOURN AND THINK ABOUT IT. ‘COURSE FEAR
    TURNED BUSINESS SLOW FOR THE NEXT WEEK OR SO. PEOPLE ARE AMAZING, YOU KNOW. THEY LEARN, THEY ADJUST,
    THEY MOVE FORWARD. AND YOU KNOW
    WHAT WAS INTERESTING, ALWAYS ? TO HEAR PEOPLE IN MID-JOURNEY
    TALK TO EACH OTHER — FIND OUT
    WHAT THEY WAS EACH IN FOR ON THE SECOND HALF
    OF THEIR TRIPS. Man: GOOD AFTERNOON, SIR. I TRUST YOU’VE HAD
    A PLEASANT TRIP SO FAR ? Second Man: WELL, THE BOAT
    IS TERRIBLY CRAMPED. I MEAN, A 14-INCH PLANK
    ATTACHED TO A WALL FOR A BED ! ONE REALLY CAN’T TURN OVER. CURIOUSLY, THEY TAKE THE BOARDS
    OFF THE WALLS IN THE MORNING TO MAKE A DINING TABLE. Man: WELL, YOU’LL HAVE NO RELIEF
    ON THE REST OF YOUR JOURNEY. HOWEVER, YOU WILL HAVE
    THE EXCITEMENT OF RIDING UP THE INCLINES. AND THEN THERE’S THE MATTER
    OF THE CONEMAUGH VIADUCT. SPECTACULAR ARCHED BRIDGE
    SPANNING THE RIVER. AS YOU TRAVEL OVER, THEY STOP
    AND LET YOU ENJOY THE VIEW. THEN THERE’S
    THE STAPLE BEND TUNNEL — 900 FEET OF TOTAL DARKNESS. FINALLY YOU GO
    DOWN ONE LAST INCLINE, SLIP BACK IN THE WATER, AND THE CANAL TAKES YOU RIGHT INTO
    THE CENTER OF PITTSBURGH. Second Man:
    OH, THAT’S MOST INTERESTING. THANK YOU FOR THE INFORMATION. I’VE ENJOYED SPEAKING WITH YOU. Man:
    HMM…I DIDN’T GET YOUR NAME. Second Man:
    OH, DICKENS — CHARLES DICKENS. GOOD DAY. West: WHETHER YOU’RE
    ON A PLEASURE TRIP OR ON BUSINESS
    OR SHIPPING MERCHANDISE, EVERYONE RECOGNIZED THE BOLDNESS
    OF WHAT WE’D DONE — OUTSMARTING NATURE. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT ! AND THEN, A FELLOW
    NAMED ROEBLING COMES ALONG AND INVENTS
    AN IRON BRAIDED CABLE TO REPLACE THE HEMP ROPE — THAT THICK ROPE THAT HAULED
    THE BOATS UP THE INCLINES — AND IT WOULDN’T BREAK…
    WELL, MOSTLY NOT. AND YOU KNOW,
    ONE OF THE THINGS I LOVED — I LOVED SEEING WHAT WAS BEING
    CARRIED ON THE MAIN LINE. MOSTLY GOING WEST
    WAS GROCERIES, DRY GOODS, MANUFACTURED ITEMS AND THE LIKE. AND COMING BACK EAST, YOU’D FIND
    COAL, TIMBER, AND IRON ORE, PLUS FLOUR, BACON, TOBACCO,
    WHISKEY, FEATHERS, WOOL, CHEESE. THE FARMERS OUT WEST WERE GOING
    FROM BARELY MAKING A LIVING TO GROWING
    REAL PROFITABLE CROPS. WHY, SO MANY RAW MATERIALS
    WERE POURING INTO THE EAST THAT PRICES STARTED
    TO GO WAY DOWN — LOW ENOUGH SO EVERYBODY COULD
    AFFORD A PRETTY DECENT LIFE… EVEN ME… [ Chuckling ] EVEN ME. THERE WAS NO STOPPING PROGRESS. STEAM LOCOMOTIVE CAME ALONG
    AND PUT THE MULES OUT OF WORK. ALL ALONG THE MAIN LINE,
    SMALL TOWNS STARTED TO SPRING UP WHERE THERE WASN’T EVEN
    A WIDE SPOT IN THE ROAD BEFORE. I HEARD SOMEBODY SAY JOHNSTOWN
    IS GROWING IN POPULATION ABOUT TWICE AS FAST
    AS THE REST OF PENNSYLVANIA ! PITTSBURGH IS GOING TO BE
    AS BIG AS ANY EASTERN CITY ! OHIO IS GETTING POPULATED TOO ! BUT NO MATTER
    HOW FAST WE OPERATED, WITH ALL THE IMPROVEMENTS, THERE WAS FOLKS WHO WANTED TO DO AWAY WITH THE PORTAGE RAILROAD. STEAM LOCOMOTIVES WERE GETTING
    BIGGER AND STRONGER, SO THESE FOLKS SAID
    THAT A LONG, EASY, GRADED TRACK COULD BE BUILT
    AROUND THE PORTAGE, AND TRAINS COULD PULL THE LOAD
    STRAIGHT ON THROUGH. WELL, MUCH AS I LIKED MY JOB, I HAD TO AGREE…SECRETLY. BY 1854, THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD
    HAD PUT TRACK UP AROUND WHAT CAME TO BE CALLED
    HORSESHOE CURVE, AND BLASTED THROUGH
    THE ALLEGHENY MOUNTAIN SUMMIT WITH THE GALLITZIN TUNNEL. AND THAT SPELLED THE END
    FOR THE PORTAGE RAILROAD. BY 1857, WE WERE JUST A MEMORY. IT’S FUNNY — FIRST WE REPLACED
    THE OLD-FASHIONED WAGONS, THEN WE GOT REPLACED
    BY BIGGER, STRONGER LOCOMOTIVES. SEEMS THERE’S ALWAYS
    A BETTER WAY TO CROSS A MOUNTAIN. WELL, FOR A LONG TIME
    WE WERE THE BETTER WAY. WE COULD COMPETE WITH ANY CANAL OR TRANSPORTATION
    IN THIS COUNTRY — MOVING RAW MATERIALS EAST, MANUFACTURED GOODS AND PIONEERS
    WITH THEIR NEWFANGLED IDEAS OUT WEST. WE WERE SOME KIND OF SOLUTION
    TO SOME KIND OF PROBLEM, WE WERE. SEE, BACK THEN, THIS COUNTRY NEVER HAD VERY FAR
    TO LOOK FOR AN ORIGINAL IDEA. WELL, I DON’T SUPPOSE
    THAT’S EVER REALLY CHANGED. NAH, PROBABLY NEVER WILL. NO, I DON’T SUPPOSE
    THERE’S ANY PROBLEM US FOLKS CAN’T SOLVE — EVEN IF IT’S AS BIG
    AS A MOUNTAIN.

    The Railroad Journey and the Industrial Revolution: Crash Course World History 214
    Articles, Blog

    The Railroad Journey and the Industrial Revolution: Crash Course World History 214

    August 9, 2019


    Hi, I’m John Green, this is Crash Course
    World History and today we’re returning to a subject that, could have an entire Crash Course
    series all of its own: the Industrial Revolution. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, are you going to do
    a whole series on the Industrial Revolution? Because that actually sounds really boring. Yeah, Me From the Past, no. I’m a little bit
    busy. I’ve got this movie that’s about to film. So yeah, no. But, uh, we are going
    to talk about like a specific and essential slice of the Industrial Revolution, that also
    like pleases my four year old self a lot: Railroads! Choooga chooga choooga chooga choo choo! We’re going to be talking about a small book by
    Wolfgang Schivelbusch called “The Railway Journey.” So in this Crash Course World History series
    we’re talking a lot about a lot of different history books so that we can approach subjects
    from a variety of angles. We want to try to introduce you to how exciting
    history can be and also how unsettled it is. How many arguments there still are. So to be clear, I’m not saying I agree with
    everything in this book – it’s one interpretation of a series of events. But it contains a ton
    of interesting ideas, and it’s one of those books that makes you think differently about
    the world. And it’s vitally important that we think
    about the role technology plays in our lives including the technology of railroads. So railroads were these big, loud machines
    that people hadn’t seen before, which makes them a pretty good metaphor for industrialization. Also, since not everyone worked in factories,
    railways were one of the few places that both middle and upper class people came face to
    face with industrial machinery. You know, if you were a factory worker that
    stuff was around you all day everyday slowly killing your soul. But if you were, say, a
    mortgage broker your work life hadn’t changed – it’s not like you had a computer. But the presence of railroads reminded you
    that you were in a different world from that of your parents or grandparents. It wasn’t
    just locomotion though, the railway itself changed the idea of an industrial machine
    to include its surrounding infrastructure, right? You needed rails and these huge engines. You
    needed timetables and organization. That encompassed everything that industrialization was about. And since railways changed the lives of middle
    and upper class people, who tend to write a lot, we know a lot about them. And the change was definitely seen as radical.
    For instance the phrase, “annihilation of time and space” was a pretty popular one
    when talking about railways. This wasn’t just a fancy way of talking
    about how railways sped up travel, but also the way that the railroad destroyed traditional
    relationships with nature. I mean sometimes nature was literally annihilated
    as when tunnels were cut through hills and depressions were graded to make the railroad as
    straight as possible, “as if drawn with a ruler.” But railroads also shaped space and time in
    a manner totally unprecedented in human history by, for instance, speeding up travel times
    which shrunk the world. And then they expanded space by creating suburbs
    and new towns. In a positive development for 99% of the population,
    railroads changed space too by opening up previously inaccessible like vacation spots
    of the wealthy. Then the wealthy migrated further away to
    places only accessible by air travel like, I don’t know, Ibiza. But now Ibiza’s full
    of Eurotrash because of inexpensive airlines. Where will the 1% vacation! Poor rich people that have to go to the Hamptons
    which aren’t even that nice, they’re just really expensive.
    And then there’s the fact that railroads literally changed time, or at least created
    the standardization of time. Like before railroads, time in London was 4 minutes ahead of Reading,
    and 14 minutes ahead of time in Bridgwater. Then in 1847 The Railway Clearing House – an
    organization established to regulate rail travel – established Greenwich mean time
    as the standard time on all rail lines, and in 1880 it became general standard time in
    England. So to be clear, time as you know it is about as
    old as the oldest living person in the world. But, the most obvious way that railroads changed
    things was travel. Until railroads, all travel was powered by muscles – either animal or
    human – so we had a sense of distance as defined by fatigue. Like when your horse died,
    you had gone a long way. Or your horse like sprained a leg going down
    a hill and you had to shoot it. Point being, for 250,000 years all power was
    muscle power and unless you could like ride a cheetah you weren’t going to go faster
    than about 20 mph. So babies could go really fast because they
    can ride cheetahs, but adults, there’s no way, cheetahs weigh like 20 lbs. As Thomas
    De Quincey put it: “When we are travelling by stage-coach at
    the rate of eight or ten miles an hour, we can understand the nature of the force which
    sets the vehicle in motion … and in the course of a day’s journey we can appreciate
    the enormous succession of efforts required to transport a loaded vehicle from London
    to a distant town.” Although to be fair, De Quincey’s ideas
    about enormous effort may have been a bit skewed as he also wrote Confessions of an
    Opium Eater Anyway, People were so comfortable with horses
    that some even argued that horsepower was superior to mechanical locomotion because
    horses relied more on renewable and easily obtained fuel. By the way, as you may see in comments there
    is still a debate about whether horse power or railroads are more carbon efficient. Anyway, the romantics at the time saw railroad
    travel as a “loss of a communicative relationship between man and nature.” And some also saw
    the old technology – horses – as having like more soul. Mechanical travel was generally seen as a
    definite economic win since it “rendered all transportation calculable,” and economists
    love to calculate. Railroads also changed the way we looked at the world, like literally
    through a window, with nature being this blur. And you can argue that like watching the world
    go by through a static window kind of prepared people for motion pictures and television
    where we stare at a screen that doesn’t move and watch a world that does. Now these noisy, coal powered trains affected
    all the senses, but especially vision. As Victor Hugo described it in 1837, “the flowers by the side of the road are
    no longer flowers but fleck, or rather streaks of red and white; there are no longer any
    points, everything becomes a streak.” So many people experienced this landscape
    as a monotonous blur, but for others it was something new and exciting. For Benjamin Gastineau,
    the constantly changing view was thrilling: “in quick succession it presents the astonished
    traveler with happy scenes, sad scenes, burlesque interludes, brilliant fireworks, all visions
    that disappear as soon as they are seen.” That sounds like a great movie. All I see when I
    look out the train window is the infinite abyss of meaninglessness, and then I pull out my phone and
    open Floppy Bird and everything is okay again. And railroad travel also changed human behavior.
    Okay let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Since looking at the landscape was no longer
    the same experience, and, according to the medical journal The Lancet, “The rapidity
    and variety of the impressions necessarily fatigue both the eye and the brain.” many
    people turned to reading books on railroads. For starters, reading was a way for upper
    class passengers to avoid having to talk with each other. European first and second class
    rail cars were designed to mimic stage coaches, with passengers facing each other. Now, in
    pre-railroad travel, you knew you were going to be stuck with whoever else was in your
    stagecoach, so it was important to try to be nice and strike up a conversation. But
    the short duration of railroad journeys discouraged the formation of rapport between travellers,
    changing our habits and turning reading on the train into a necessity.
    Rail travel also brought new fears, like when travelling at the speed of a cannonball, it
    was hard to overcome one’s terror of a possible derailment. As Thomas Creevy put it: “It is really flying, and it is impossible
    to divest yourself of the notion of instant death to all upon the least accident happening.” So that’s why I’m afraid of flying. And
    to be fair railway accidents were common enough that physicians began to document cases of
    “railway spine” a condition suffered by people who had come through railway accidents
    with complaints of pain, but few or no signs of physical injury. By the end of the 1880s,
    however, railway spine gave way as a diagnosis to “traumatic neurosis” reflecting new
    ideas in psychology. Eventually, pathological explanations for what looks a lot like nervous shock
    slipped away and only the psychological ones were left. Thanks, Thought Bubble. So new technologies
    often bring new anxieties because change is terrifying. Remember how the internet was
    going to bring an end to reading books? Remember how “e-learning” was going to
    replace classrooms and there were going to be all of these “e-teachers” who would
    replace your real teachers? But yeah, no, it turns out that real life
    teachers are pretty great. Like Heinrich Heins wrote that railroads produced “tremendous foreboding such as we always
    feel when there comes an enormous, an unheard-of event whose consequences are imponderable
    an incalculable.” Fortunately, our new industrial world view
    associated change with progress. Like this notion that humans move forward,
    that children will have a better life than their parents did – that’s new. As… oh it’s time for the Open letter! But first let’s see what’s in the globe
    today – oh no, it’s change. I hate change. An Open Letter to Progress: One of the reasons,
    I think, we’re afraid of change is that change doesn’t really mean progress. For the vast majority of human history the
    lives of children could be much worse than the lives of their parents. It depended on disease and
    weather and kings – mostly on disease and weather. There was no idea that moving forward also
    meant moving up. And I would argue that certainly innovation
    has given us much to be grateful for, but there’s something to a reluctance to change. I love you progress and you have given me
    much to be grateful for, but a gentle reminder: change doesn’t always mean progress. Best wishes, John Green. So as Schivelbusch puts it “new modes of
    behavior and perception enabled the traveler to lose the fear that he formerly felt towards
    the new conveyance.” “The sinister aspect of the machinery that
    first was so evident and frightening gradually disappeared, and with this disappearance,
    fear waned and was replaced by a feeling of security based on familiarity.” Huh, that sounds precisely like my relationship
    with a phone that always knows where I am. New technologies often change the way people
    live and perceive the world. Like one example would be the printing press. It made knowledge
    and information available as never before. But it only really affected a small segment
    of the population, at least initially. Industrialization was different in that it
    had a profound effect on large numbers of people in a very short time. And since the
    dawn of industrialization, the pace of this change and the enormity of its impact has only
    increased like, well, like a speeding train I guess. Except it’s like a speeding train that gets
    faster and faster until it reaches the speed of light – oh my gosh what a wonderful idea.
    Somebody call Elon Musk. So for most of us the Internet is a technology
    very much like the railroad. Like the railroad, the Internet in its earliest stages was both frightening
    to detractors and exhilarating to its boosters. And like railroads it has both shrunk the
    world, enabling me to communicate with you via, you know, the tubes – I don’t really
    know how the Internet works. And it’s also changed our perception of time. Think about how much sooner you expect a response
    to an email or text message vs a letter or even a phone call.
    Think about the fact that you can order a phone from China and have it arrive at your door in a
    week and that still feels like kind of a long time. In the age of the railroads to get a phone,
    which didn’t exist, from China to Indianapolis would’ve taken months. To get that same
    nonexistent phone from China to Indianapolis in 1700 would’ve taken more than a year.
    And then you turn it on and there’s not even a cell network. And you’re like “This
    is essentially just a brick. I waited more than a year and I can’t do anything with
    it!” And once the battery dies you’re going to go to plug it in and oh right there’s
    no freaking electricity! So yeah, the world is different. Now like
    railroads there’s plenty of nostalgia about the time before the Internet when people supposedly
    consumed less and talked to each other more because they weren’t constantly on their phones. But if railroad reading is any indication
    we’ve been looking for ways to use technology to avoid interacting with each other in real
    life for a long time. And we shouldn’t forget that railroads made
    travel easier and opened up new vistas and made goods less expensive and brought people
    closer together. And they also helped create the idea of nostalgia.
    I mean without industrial production the nostalgia for pre-industrial methods of travel and manufacture
    couldn’t exist. One of the best things about books like “The
    Railway Journey,” is that they help us to draw parallels between the past and the present
    and get us to focus on overlooked aspects of history, like what it meant for people
    to ride on trains for the first time. Now our study of history shouldn’t be focused
    too much on what we in the present can learn from the past, but trying to glimpse innovation
    and change as those who lived through it saw it, well I think that can be very useful to those of us
    living through a new technological revolution. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is filmed here in the Chad and
    Stacey Emigholz studio in Indianapolis, it’s possible because of all these nice people
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    say in my hometown, “thanks for being awesome. Wait, no, we say, “don’t forget to be
    awesome.”