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    William Wells Brown: An African-American Life
    Articles, Blog

    William Wells Brown: An African-American Life

    August 9, 2019

    >>From the Library of
    Congress in Washington DC.>>Good afternoon and welcome
    to the Library of Congress. I’m John Cole. I’m the director of the Center for
    the Book in the Library of Congress, which is the Library’s reading
    and literacy promotion arm. And I’m happy to welcome you
    to one of our noontime talks about new books that
    have special relevance to the Library of Congress. And this is how we kind
    of define the books and beyond noontime series. The Center for the book itself
    promotes books and reading, not only here in these talks, but also through the
    National Book Festival. How many people here were at last
    weekend’s, was it two weekends ago? The national was two weekends
    ago, National Book Festival, which this year moved to the
    convention center for the first time with pretty good results, and
    so we are evaluating that, and the Book Festival itself
    is certainly a going concern. And I’m hoping that we can remain in the convention centers,
    as a matter-of-fact. We also have state centers
    for the books in all states, which are hosted by different
    kinds of institutions. But wherever they are, and
    however they’re hosted their job is to stimulate public interest in
    books and reading and literacy in libraries in their states. All of our Books and Beyond
    talks here at the Library of Congress are filmed
    for the Library’s website and so I’m asking you to please
    turn off all things electronic, and we will have a format that
    includes a chance for questions and answers and some
    discussion with our author. And so please be aware of that, that
    if you involve yourself in that, you have a chance of also being
    part of our website broadcast. We will also have a book signing. I’m delighted that this beautiful
    book has arrived just in time. Our speaker last night
    was at Politics and Prose, as some of you know, and he tells me
    the books had just arrived the day before Politics and Prose. So we are in luck, and
    the book will be — it has a price of $35 and
    we’re selling it at the Library of Congress price today of $30. So I hope you take advantage
    of that, and the timing is such that we will need to move
    to the book signing no later than 1:00 :00 depending on how
    the questions and answers go. I am very pleased to be able to introduce an old
    friend, Ezra Greenspan. Ezra is, and I’m going
    to read this out. Now the Edmund J. And Louise
    W. Con Professor of English at Southern Methodist
    University in Dallas. He holds a PhD from Brown
    University, and when we first met, Ezra was teaching at the
    University of South Carolina. And the vehicle through which we’ve
    known each other is the organization called SHARP, that many of you hope
    know about or hope you are members. SHARP stands for the
    Society for the History of Authorship, Reading
    and Publishing. And Ezra came to the two
    SHARP meetings that the Center for the Book has hosted at
    the Library of Congress. The first one was the second
    year of SHARP, and I can’t come up with the date for certain, but I know the last one was three
    years ago, and here in Washington when we collaborated with a
    number of other organizations, and had more than 250 scholars
    who are interested in the history of books, libraries, and
    the history of reading. Ezra has been the editor
    of book history, which I meant to bring an example
    of it, which he has co-edited for many years with Jonathan Rose,
    who is another scholar who was in on the — well actually,
    Jonathan I think we call the founder of SHARP. And it’s a remarkable
    international organization that really has come a long ways
    in promoting the history of books and the history of print culture. And Ezra will be giving
    another talk this afternoon to our Mid Atlantic group that
    is in charge of the culture, or not in charge of, but
    studies book culture. And that talk will a little
    bit more on the archival side of things will be at 4:00
    o’clock held in the Clugey Center. Ezra is among other
    things, a Whitman scholar, who in 1990 published Walt
    Whitman and the American Reader. And in the year 2000,
    he published a biography of the publisher George Palmer
    Putnam, which was always of interest to me, because Herbert Putnam,
    who was the Library of Congress from 1899 until 1939 was
    George Palmer Putnam’s sons. One of his sons, right, Ezra? But Ezra is onto a
    very exciting topic that he’s going to
    share with us today. He’s done some pioneering
    research on the important and versatile 19th century author,
    writer, William Wells Brown, and it’s my pleasure now to
    present to you Ezra Greenspan. Ezra. [inaudible] [ Applause ]>>[Inaudible] Thank you, John. It’s a delight to be back
    at the Library of Congress. Those two books that John
    mentioned, the books on Whitman and GP Putnam were
    Library of Congress books. They could not of been done had
    this spectacular collections of this library not been available. I’m not going to say
    this in a sour way. Don’t misunderstand me, but one
    can’t write a biography by contrast of William Wells Brown by relying
    on the Library of Congress. We have a number of his
    books here, but Brown, like most African-American figures,
    pre-20th century is elusive, hard-to-find, difficult to
    track down, and in part the lack of a central archive was
    really the central problem. There are other problems as
    well, but that was a crucial one. And that’s just by way of preface. If I have time I’m going to
    circle back to Washington, and give you William Wells
    Brown’s view of Washington from the 1850s before the Civil War. But I’m very happy to be here. The center of the book is
    a wonderful institution. I really feel at home
    coming back here. I’m going to read a fairly formally
    for I think about 10 minutes and then more loosely get
    to a slide presentation, which I think is the
    more interesting part. But there is a little bit of
    work that needs to be done, and I can do it more
    effectively if I read from script. When we talk about the lives of
    great American writers, Franklin, master of the press, offspring of
    the platonic conception of himself, father of the city that he
    adopted before it adopted him, his patron saint. Whitman, son of a broken
    family, six grade education. Master of self-promotion,
    incarnation of the body electric. Melville another six grade dropout,
    wandering sailor, no-show at Harvard or Yale College, but graduate
    of the school of Wales. Dickinson, daughter of difference
    who rose to no man’s requirements, mistress of self-reliance. The only kangaroo among the beauty. Fluoro bachelor of nature, enemy
    of conformity, lover of himself. Twain riverboat pilot, Confederate
    Yankee, self educated with a major in humor, and a minor
    in contrariness. We think of lives that were
    unprecedented, unpredictable, unscripted, yet outlandish as these
    lives are, none can quite compare with the life of William Wells
    Brown for sheer implausibility. Brown was the master
    of the implausible. For the full account I invite you
    to read the 600 page biography, but for today’s purpose you need
    only an introductory sketch. William as he was known
    in his earliest years. We don’t even know his familiar
    name, Bill, Billy, Will, Willie, we don’t know was born in 1814. This is his Bicentennial, but raised
    on the Missouri frontier on a farm in an area associated
    with Daniel Boone. He was really raised
    in Boone country. He spent his teens rented out as
    a contract laborer in St. Louis, working chiefly, and most
    memorably on the first generation of Mississippi and Missouri River
    steamboats, miserably unhappy, especially as his family
    members were sold off one by one. Brown staged three escapes from his
    masters during his St. Louis years. On the third attempt initiated as
    he disembarked his master steamboat at the public landing in
    Cincinnati on New Year’s Day 1834, he finally gained his
    freedom and ran northeastward across Ohio towards Lake Erie. Illiterate, in all likelihood,
    certainly functionally illiterate and innumerate at the time of his
    escape, he quickly made himself over into a new man after settling
    in Cleveland and later Buffalo where he used his unschooled
    hard-earned literacy to make himself over the next five decades,
    the most prolific, pioneering and accomplished African-American
    writer and multimedia figure
    of the 19th century. His many books include the first
    known African-American novel, published play, European
    travel book, history of black military
    service in the Civil War, and antislavery songbook. His futurative slave
    narrative is one of the seminal works in the genre. The antislavery moving
    panorama he took on tour across the British Isles
    in the early 1850’s, was a major achievement
    in the history of African-American visual arts. And is three histories of the African-American
    experience earn him the position of the leading historian in
    the field during his lifetime. Although, we may today see him as the first African-American
    literary professional, he actually led a high profile
    multidimensional professional life as a public speaker, antislavery
    and civil rights activist, temperance reformer,
    and medical doctor. That’s a bare-bones
    sketch of Brown’s life. The plan of this talk, however,
    is to focus not on the life, but on the reconstruction of the
    life as a biographical project. To do that I want to take
    you behind the scenes on a biographical journey. Writing biographies
    is always a journey. Sometimes it’s a multiple stage
    journey, and this one occurred through selected archives. For my purposes in search of the
    major writer and social activist who disappeared largely
    from public view for a century after
    his death in 1884. So this project was, at least
    in part, a project of recovery, specifically about Brown it his
    larger dimensions, because I tried to write Brown into the
    larger American context. His life demands that. It’s too big and to [inaudible] and important not to
    be treated that way. And so it was a recovery
    project on a fairly large scale, on not to say that there hasn’t been
    a great deal of work done on many of the topics that I work on,
    but to bring Brown to the center to my mind was an absolutely
    crucial part of the project. The fundamental research question
    concerning William Wells Brown is how does one access his life? How do you get at him? Even to recent literary and cultural
    historians, Brown is proven one of the most elusive figures in the
    entire field of American literature. As two of the leading
    21st-century scholars of African-American
    literature, and the [inaudible] and John Ernest have
    posed the question, where in the world is
    William Wells Brown? There’s no easy answer, because there’s no central
    archive there’s virtually never is for members of any pre-20th
    century minority groups. The standard sources biographers
    work with, personal libraries, manuscripts, letters,
    albums, scrapbooks, memorabilia almost never exist. Not even for Brown,
    author of numerous books that were widely reviewed,
    frequently reprinted, and his name was frequently
    in the news. As a younger man, five years
    less senior than I am today, I initially had high hopes of
    finding ample new documentation. I was young and naïve. After five years of diligent work
    I’ve not found a single family letter written to or by Brown
    or with one exception to or by any other member
    of his family. And actually they’re three
    different families that Brown had over the course of his lifetime. That’s part of the personal
    story, which I’m not going to be talking about today. I don’t even have a single
    specimen of the handwriting of his second wife, and I
    seen only one useful specimen of his literary manuscript, and that
    a couple of cheap sheets of paper that came to light two
    years ago by serendipity. But for all the difficulties,
    there was a way to locate William Wells Brown and
    his world, or way that I thought of it, William Wells
    Brown in his world. I thought it has to come together. And I want to retrace with you
    some of the steps my wife, Ricky, who was a central part
    of this entire project, and I made in pursuing his legacy
    over the course of five years and trips covering thousands
    of miles across the US, Canada, the British Isles, and Ireland. Our journey began in June 2009 when
    we packed up our home in Dallas, loaded up our car, and set out
    on a 14 month research trip with home base located at the
    American Antiquarian Society in Wooster, Massachusetts. We took the long route
    getting there. Following the trail that
    tracked along the northern arc of Brown’s life, which for us
    included visits to archives in Missouri, Michigan, Ontario,
    all across New York State, and a long trek across
    England before we settled into our sabbatical home in Wooster. Our first stop was Missouri,
    where Brown spent nearly all of his boyhood in adolescence. What we were looking for, I realized
    only later was our trailhead. The point of entry along the trail
    I could not at the time identify. I couldn’t even see my
    way, I couldn’t find that the main trail
    through the narrative. It was something that had to be
    discovered as we pushed forward, and this I think is not uncommon
    for difficult biographical projects. Driving from Texas
    northeastward and dodging a tornado as we entered the show me state. We made our first stop in
    Columbia, the historical Society of Missouri, but made
    little headway. That is until I happen
    to notice hanging on one of the libraries walls a decades-old
    Missouri state highway map. In examining it closely, I noticed
    that the town of Marthasville, a place that resonated in my memory
    was located more or less on the way to St. Louis, our main
    destination in the state. So after a couple of relatively
    fruitless days of research at the Historical Society
    heading eastward toward St. Louis, we cut off the interstate,
    drove down a country highway, and wound up at the following spot,
    totally unaware that we had arrived at the trailhead of this
    biographical journey. Notice the date. The date is important. Marthasville 1817. We parked, I think you can actually
    see behind the signage there’s a little parking lot. And I can’t make out
    whether that’s our car. It may be. We had no idea where we were, except
    that we were on the edge of the town of Martinsville, basically
    a farming community of about a 1,000 people today. And as we walked from the
    car we saw historical signage around this municipal
    park everywhere. And that’s really the
    first part of the story, and I’ll get to it in just a moment. But let me just mention this is the
    Katy Trail, which is part of the — for a Dallas site this
    should’ve registered as an omen. The Katy Trail is the old Missouri
    Kansas Texas railway right-of-way. And on the other end it passes within about a mile
    of my office at SMU. The railroad doesn’t exist anymore. This is now a public
    trail, lots of walkers, runners, bicycle, bicyclists. And I will say on the near side
    toward me about half a mile from this spot is the graveyard in which Daniel Boone
    was originally buried. He’s since been reclaimed,
    [inaudible] and reputation by the state of Kentucky. Now, take a look at
    some of the signage. First of all, there’s a little
    bit of the narrative of this area, but I want you to notice is behind
    me there is a restored cabin, which you’re going to see
    more closely in a second. The path is actually a paved road by it has additional
    historical signage. And that signage, it turned out, became a crucial part
    of the entire biography. All of this completely by surprise. That’s the restoration,
    [inaudible] with the plaque. What it makes clear is that this was
    a reconstructed cottage dating back to 1804. It was put up by the Lewis and
    Clark Bicentennial Committee of the local area commemorating
    the fact that Lewis and Clark on their voyage of
    expedition westward, began in effect their voyage
    after leaving St. Louis. They came to this particular town
    before it really it entered its American phase. And here is one of the historical
    signs right by the cottage and it gives the history of this area going back
    to the French period. Remember it enters the US as part of the Jefferson’s
    Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Previous to that, it
    was French-speaking. The name of it was La Charrette. By the time Lewis and Clark got
    there it was Charrette Village, and the sign gives
    the early history. So light bulb number
    one went off in my head. This is Lewis and Clark territory. This is a story about
    the westward frontier, about manifest destiny
    in the next generation. But another interesting piece on the
    signage at the bottom is the fact that this was also Boone country,
    that Rebecca Boone died at the home of her daughter, Jemima Calloway. Jemima Calloway was married to
    a man named Flanders Calloway. That’s of minor importance. On the backside of the same sign,
    we have the American version. The town now called
    Marthasville, and the explanation that it was settled by a man
    by the name of Dr. John Young. Dr. John Young was
    the master and owner of the young William Wells Brown. So this is not just Lewis and Clark
    country, and Daniel Boone country. This is William Wells Brown country. And as you read the history
    starting with Young’s purchase of the land it was
    a very big purchase. On the death of Daniel Boone at the
    home of his brother-in-law, his son, and sister-in-law, Young’s
    sale of the land in 1826 on what you’ll notice
    is absent is any mention of the name William Wells Brown. This was the situation as we
    saw it in the summer of 2009. So three major pieces of
    historical information. Lewis and Clark and the narrative
    of American progress, Daniel Boone, the great figure of
    the American frontier. And it’s still to this
    day Boone country. And third, Dr. Young’s presence
    and William Wells Brown’s absence. And I realized this has
    to be the trailhead, and this is a major
    part of my story. It’s a biography of a young
    African-American who grew up on the American frontier,
    who would spend his early years as an adolescent on the first
    generation of American steamboats. This was somebody with really
    an extraordinary background. I don’t know if you can read
    it all the way in the back, but here’s another really
    interesting little piece of information. The red arrow is pointing
    to the information. It says “Charrette
    Village adjoining the land of Flanders Calloway
    and James Bryant.” I think Bryant is a
    misprint for Brian who was the son-in-law
    of Daniel Boone. But more to the point, Flanders
    Calloway was Boone’s son-in-law, and if Rebecca Boone died in
    the cabin of Flanders Calloway, and another piece of information
    made it clear that Boone lived for part of his last
    six years, 1814 to 1820, in Flanders Calloway’s house,
    well then William Wells Brown grew up next door to Daniel Boone. I looked hard for physical evidence
    of what that area looked like. Of course the most wonderful, but nonexistent photograph would’ve
    been a likeness of the young cabin, but this is Flanders
    Calloway’s homestead. No date. I don’t know
    when it was taken. Looks to me to be 19th century,
    but this would be very close. Young’s house would’ve been
    much larger, and much fancier. A year later Ricky and I after
    a year or eight or nine months in Wooster, on our
    drive back to Dallas. We’re now in the summer of 2010, decided that we would come
    back via the southern route. And that was primarily an
    attempt to find both the white and the black sides
    of Brown’s family. Brown’s father was a white
    man, and we found his father. We found out a lot about him. We found Dr. Young, who was
    a first cousin of the father, and we looked very, very hard
    for Brown’s mother, Elizabeth. And that I have to say was a
    labor of ultimate frustration. We got we thought very
    close in Virginia. We think she was born in
    Virginia, but we never found her. In any event, we decided on the
    last day of that 13 month trip that we would return as
    kind of rounding a circle that we would return to Martinsville and by this point how does
    one write a book like this. One relies on a lot of professional
    friends, librarians, archivists, scholars, and we by appointment
    met up with the director of the local historical society. That’s Kathy Sharpinwars,
    as well as the head of the Missouri State archives
    from St. Louis, Mike Everman, and his wife Diane, a
    professional archaeologist. And by the time we met up
    with them in July of 2010, we realized that we were
    standing the whole time. The moment we got out of her car the
    year before, all the land around. The place of the restoration, the
    municipal park, the parking lot, the cornfields all around, and the
    town of Martinsville on the top of the hill that all of this was
    the original John Young estate., Which is to say, the moment we got
    out of our car, we were walking on the same land on which William
    Wells Brown had spent his childhood. So we came back we hoped
    to see what we could see through the eyes of professionals. And so, Ricky’s taking
    the photographs. Here we are walking the grounds, and it probably hasn’t
    changed all that much. The lower lying land. This is very fertile land is
    very close to the Missouri River, midsummer, lots of corn growing. So we walked the land
    looking for marks like survey marks of
    the original plot. Here we are further along, and
    I’m afraid not much really to see. A restoration. This is actually in the
    center of Martinsville. We did find some of
    the original spots where Young owned property
    in Marthasville. We don’t know where
    the original house was. You know, I suppose that somebody
    with supersonic technology, you know, maybe Henry Louis
    Gates could get an aircraft fly over this area, you know, with
    sensory devices, and find, you know, where the bones, you know,
    of the historical past were. We did this, you know, the hard way. And just to update the historical
    narrative, because we are talking about one of the pioneers
    of African-American history. Four years later I think, thanks to Kathy Sharpinwars
    they’ve put up a new sign. This went up in the
    last four months. Sorry, it’s not a very
    good photograph. But finally, in the year
    of his bicentennial, William Wells Brown has
    entered the official narrative of Marthasville and
    Missouri history. I’m going to skip over a segment. Sorry, we just don’t
    have enough time. I want to talk a little
    bit about archives. That was our first archive,
    in a manner speaking. The remains of a physical location and the narrative that
    got attached to it. William Wells Brown spent
    five years in England, technically is a fugitive
    slave from 1849 to 1854. While in England he brought out an Anglo-Irish
    edition of his narrative. He brought out a new
    edition of his songbook. He wrote the first African-American
    travelogue three years in England. And he brought out —
    he wrote and brought out the first African-American
    novel. He was a busy man. All of that he did on the side. He was the best known
    African-American lecturer in the British Isles in the 1850’s. He was a phenomenon. The reason he went in the beginning,
    besides his sheer interest in spreading his wings, was
    that even though a noncitizen, technically a nonperson
    in the United States. He was an official delegate to the third international peace
    Congress meeting in Paris, France. And while there, he was one of the
    most electrifying speakers there. He made some very important
    contacts. One was with an English
    aristocrat by the name of John Lee. The strangest kind of an aristocrat. An aristocrat who leaned left. And Lee, who was by way a
    cousin of the Lee’s of Virginia, including Robert E Lee, took a quick
    interest in Brown and invited him when they got back to England, as
    well as some of the other delegates, to come visit at his country estate
    about an hour north of London. And here you have a measure of a
    live person born in the slave shanty in the bluegrass country of
    Kentucky, an honored guest at one of the finest mansions
    in all of England. This, by the way, was the site
    of Louis XVIII court in exile in the early 19th century. It’s an absolutely
    magnificent house. The back view. What makes it most interesting
    and really the reason that Ricky and I went up there was Brown
    mentions in his travelogue that Lee had his name inscribed on
    a brick, and the brick installed — Lee was one of the leading amateur
    astronomers in the British Isles. In the vault of Lees Observatory. It was the firmament
    of great people. I don’t know who the other
    folks were, and we were hoping that we would actually get a chance. We had to figure out how
    to get into this house. But once we had done that, get a chance to see this
    remarkable testament to the young William Wells Brown. Well, it turns out, everything we
    looked for physically in England, from Brown’s period, just about
    everything, no longer existed. This great house suffered a
    major fire in the early 1960’s. They restored it, but
    they had no reason to restore the observatory,
    so that part was gone. We figured though it would have
    been the corner that abut outward on this side, on the left side. Now, very quickly I want to
    circle back to the United States, and to Brown’s view of Washington. And as I said, it’s not
    an entirely happy view of our nation’s capital
    in the 1850’s. While in England, Brown
    had Washington on his mind. He read the American newspapers. He knew what was going on
    with the Fugitive Slave Bill. It basically meant he was staying
    in England for a good long time. He couldn’t come back,
    too well-known. And so he dug in and did
    quite a lot of writing. Two particular works by Brown
    that relates to the portrayal of Washington, and they’re both
    very interesting and very powerful. Brown produced the first
    African-American panorama that was shown in the British Isles. The panorama was an enormous
    narrative painting done on heavy canvas, rolled up on
    scrolls, and presented in a way that might remind one
    of moving pictures. It was a form of visual technology
    that basically was the precedent to the predecessor
    to moving pictures. Brown apparently commissioned
    250 yards of canvas in 24 views, and he would perform. He would show it at night
    in a dimly lit room. He would often sing. He was a wonderful singer,
    and he would tell the story. One of the 24 views was
    his view of Washington. And basically what Brown was doing
    was rewriting American narrative history from an African-American
    point of view, as well as the visuals that went
    with it turning them into a kind of visual art that was
    suitable for the presentation of African-Americans and
    African-American history. This was enormously ambitious tasks. Virtually none of the old
    panoramas have survived. But Brown’s had a catalog, so we know from the
    catalog what the panorama, what the 24 views looked like. One of them is very reminiscent. For those of you who have seen 12
    Years a Slave, you may remember that the director made a point
    when Northrop is being held in a Washington prison of
    cutting out and showing the tops of buildings with the top
    of the capital sticking up to give the viewer a
    sense of the proximity, in a manner speaking
    of slavery and freedom. The problem of American democracy,
    and that was one of Brown’s scenes. Brown’s is even richer. Brown’s takes place in 1848
    when there’s a mass celebration in Washington of the
    revolutions for freedom that had broken out across Europe. And in the backdrop,
    are the slave pens. And for Brown this was the correct
    way of presenting American history, and especially our nation’s capital. At that point, Brown had
    never been to Washington. He would come actually
    only after the Civil War. He was a generalization of the Freedman’s Monument
    to Abraham Lincoln. The other work, visual work that
    Brown produced, this may be familiar to least a few of you is the famous
    illustration from his novel, Clotel. Clotel, the story, fictitious,
    but not entirely an accurate story of the slave daughter
    of Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson’s slave girl Sally. At the end of the story Clotel
    returns to rescue her daughter held in Virginia, is recaptured, sent
    off to Washington to be held in a slave pen until she
    can be transported back to her master in Mississippi. Escapes the slave pens, runs
    across Washington and is running across the long bridge from
    Washington to Alexandria. She’s cut off on both
    ends, and in desperation, as this illustration
    shows jumps to her death. For William Wells Brown,
    historian of America and the African-American experience, Washington DC was the
    nub of the problem. And from his perspective. Remember, he’s still
    in London unable to get back to the United States. This was the situation in the
    United States through the 1850s, and perhaps I should close
    on a more hopeful note. As I mentioned, after the Civil
    War, Brown would come to Washington for the first time and he was,
    I think it was in 1867 he came to Washington, Maryland
    and Virginia. He met officials. He took in the city. He met the African-American
    community, and he went out into the country to
    meet the real people, his people. The people he’d grown up with,
    for the most part in Missouri. And he came away enormously
    optimistic. And as generalizations of
    the Freedman’s Memorial to Lincoln thought this was the
    proper way that we can pay respect to the great emancipator. That actually was a project that
    had a very complicated history, but Brown eventually came
    around to seeing Washington. You know, as we say today, is Washington the problem
    or the solution? William Wells Brown
    would say yes, and yes. Thank you for your attention. [ Applause ]>>I have a few questions Ezra. Yes.>>So how did you — I’ve never until today I never heard
    of William Wells Brown. So did you discover him and what led
    you to, you know, take on this task, you know, uncovering
    his life and trying to put together this little bits
    of information of, you know, of putting his story together. Thank you so much for doing so.>>This is a question
    I’ve been asked many times as I was working on the project. Why write a biography of Brown? And, you know, I think the way
    you’re posing the question leads to part of the answer. That this was a story, a life
    story that needed to be written. This was an absolutely amazing life. You know, in one sense Brown was
    the most inventive cultural creative figure in the United
    States in the 19th century. And I’m a lover of Whitman. I put in a lot of time on
    Whitman, but Brown did more things in more ways, and that’s
    part of the answer also. I knew of Brown as
    the author of Clotel. American Lit scholars have known
    about Clotel for a long time. When I read his play, his
    historic play, The Escape, I was absolutely stunned. It was to my mind, to
    my sense immediately one of the best American
    place of the 19th century. And almost totally unknown,
    and almost totally unstaged, except when in his own life
    Brown took it on the road and did one-man recitations
    of all the roles. All the white roles, all the black
    roles, so I thought, you know, all these works by one
    person, a narrative of a life. One of the most amazing lives of
    the 19th century, and, you know, you always have to ask yourself
    is this something that I can do. You know, does it fit my skill set? And then I guess the final
    ingredient was his sensibility spoke to my sensibility. You know, in a basic
    way, I get Brown.>>Thank you. [ Inaudible ]>>Was he self educated?>>Right. No formal education. We think he was functionally
    illiterate when he escaped at the age of 19. You know, and so by our standards
    when our kids are often colleged. Brown could not read or write. I’m going to be in
    Lexington, Kentucky next week. Lexington believes that
    Brown was born there, and that’s unfortunately
    not correct. Close, but not correct. And I’m going to be speaking
    at a number of high schools and I think one of the things I want
    to say to the kids is, you know, everybody here reads and writes. You have prospects, but Brown, by
    contrast, like the vast majority of American slaves was illiterate, and in spite of a prodigious
    intelligence, just extraordinary capacities,
    he was a victim of slavery. And in many regards
    a typical victim. And so part of the question
    for me as a biographer, once he escaped was how
    did he educate himself? How did he get educated? And there’s no real evidence. I mean you have to make a lot of
    guesses, and the answer that I came up with, which I’m pretty happy about until the negative
    criticism starts coming in. I may have to rethink this, but
    I think two things happened. Part of it was self-education. And this was a young man just
    bursting with creative energies, and he wanted to learn, and
    he had that inner spirit. But the other part, which I think
    was actually also typical among African-Americans freed
    or self freed from slavery was he was
    educated by the community. The people around him, and
    there actually is one tiny piece of evidence that Brown was
    taught in part by his wife. He married a young woman in
    Cleveland within six months or eight months of his escape. And I think it was a
    communal enterprise, common that African-Americans
    helped one another in many ways, but once chief way was
    to become educated. And so I did look for
    things like, you know, I looked up every African-American
    in the city of Cleveland. There were only 50 or 60
    when Brown got there in 1834, and looked for philanthropic
    self-help organizations in Cleveland. In fact, African-Americans
    were trying to start a school, so I think the story is
    partially one of, you know, of individual initiative and the
    other is communal responsibility.>>I have a quick question for you about the article sources
    that you used. Were there a lot or what did you
    find and where were they located? Were they in Kentucky? Were they in Ohio? Because it sounds like
    there weren’t a lot. There wasn’t a lot of
    traces left to find.>>They’re never enough,
    first of all. That’s just the way it is. About the questions about
    the archival sources. How ample they were and
    where they were to be found, because there were
    no central archives, and because Brown presumably — this
    was an important research question. What happened to Brown’s archives? Brown was one of the best
    read African-Americans in the United States. He read prodigiously. He must’ve had a large
    library at home. He was a professional
    writer for 40 years. He went from book to
    book, and he updated them, which meant that he was
    probably using earlier editions as manuscript copies. He had a prodigious correspondence. He was well known, lots of
    friends, interesting friends. What happened to it all? And the answer is, we don’t know. But the necessity therefore
    was to go everywhere that there were Brown associations. Also to research his
    friends, and colleagues. And I said earlier that I tried to
    write Brown into the larger context. They’re powerful reasons for
    doing that, and one was that, that was Brown’s basic premise. I mentioned Whitman. Whitman thought of himself
    as utterly exceptional, and his exceptionalism
    allowed him to turn himself into a representative figure. It’s a paradox. Brown never thought of
    himself as exceptional. He thought of himself
    as an African-American, and so what he wrote, even how
    he wrote was part in parcel of being one of the people. And therefore a way to get at
    Brown was to go through the lives and sometimes the archives
    of his fellows. The obvious figure is
    Frederick Douglass, and Brown and Douglass are look-alikes
    in many ways. You know, they’re both
    white father, black mother, exceptional prodigious young people. Authors of two of the great
    fugitive slave narratives, print-based figures, public
    speakers, and, in fact, they often worked in concert. So I would work, if I couldn’t go
    into Brown through the front door, you know, I’d have to
    find an alternative way. And a lot of that meant just going
    archives wherever Brown lived.>>How about the [inaudible] papers? I mean did you find much in
    the way of correspondence?>>Well, we are the Library of
    Congress, and the great archive in the field is the
    Frederick Douglass papers. And their relationship, I found
    scattered bits and pieces. It’s actually a little
    bit disappointing. There are no personal letters. And by the way, personal
    letter from Brown to Douglass would be, how dare you. It would start with an
    antagonistic statement. Douglass and Brown had a
    very difficult relationship. In some ways it shouldn’t
    be surprising. These are big men, and when
    big men or big people get into a room there’s just not
    enough oxygen to supply to, you know two major
    breathing apparatuses. But there were professional
    connections. Brown probably began his European
    travelogue as a series of letters that were written to
    first to the Northstar, Frederick Douglass’s paper. And then when that switched over to the paper called Frederick
    Douglass’s Paper they were in a professional relationship. That was probably the first stage and then Brown probably
    figured these are really good and I can turn it into a book. And there are documents
    relating to that. And there are a couple
    of scattered letters. One of the coincidences is that
    the family that bought the freedom of Frederick Douglass,
    a family from Newcastle in England was the same family that bought the freedom
    of William Wells Brown. Their name was Richardson. These were remarkably fine people. Ellen Richardson is really
    remarkable human being and both Douglass and Brown were
    very close to Ellen Richardson, and Richardson’s correspondence
    with Douglass is here in the Library of Congress. And when she wrote Douglass she
    often associated Douglass with Brown and would ask, you know, what’s
    new with my old friend William who hasn’t written me
    in X number of years. So, you know, there are some very
    small, but very cherished moments.>>We have one more and then
    we’ll do the book signing. When I saw Ezra earlier today
    of course I was thinking and I’m telling him now
    that a number of people who are here are associated with
    the Daniel Murray connection with the Library of
    Congress, which is the name of our staff association. And so I had to ask Ezra
    little bit about Daniel Murray, and the original book I had was
    the publishers advance copy. And I just got it yesterday,
    and I hadn’t looked — this had had no index and so I
    looked today and there was something about Daniel Murray in your book. Do you want to say just a few
    words about Murray and, you know, his significance, and a
    little bit about, I mean, do you think he ever
    met, have they ever met?>>I don’t think —
    Brown died in 1884.>>So [inaudible]>>To early, but, you know, this
    really raises the question for me. Murray was a way of finding a
    central figure in the history of the reputation of African-American
    literature and culture. And of course the date of the Paris
    exposition, 1900 was very nice. I said in my introduction that
    Brown’s reputation faded virtually into obscurity after
    his death in the 1880’s, and the reason was Jim Crow. That’s an overstatement. Brown’s reputation remained
    alive in the black community, and Daniel Murray was very much
    aware of Brown and Brown’s peers. This was an amazing
    generation, Brown, Jacobs, Taubman, Garnet, Delaney. One can go on and on,
    and they were all born within five years of each other. And it’s the same generation that
    gives us Melville, Hawthorne, Whitman, and one can go on. We know what happened to the
    reputation of white writers, that they became canonized. For me, Daniel Murray was
    a way of trying to figure out what official status
    did African-Americans have as Jim Crow was taking
    over the American North and the American South. The Library of Congress
    was a bit of an asylum, a haven from much of that. In any event, I wanted to know
    what books did Murray take over? You know, what African-American
    monuments were going to be put on display, and remember the
    idea was to put them on display in two national capitals. In France and then bring them
    back to the Library of Congress and put them on display
    in Washington.>>For the exhibition of 190 –>>1900. The [inaudible]>>1900.>>The great French Exposition, one of the world’s
    greatest world’s fairs. And he took five titles by Brown. Brown had written over a dozen
    books, and this was interesting too. What part of the African-American
    experience did Murray want to present in Paris? And interestingly, he did not take
    many fugitive slave narratives, for example. He did — I don’t believe
    he took Douglass’s. I’d have to check that. He certainly didn’t take Brown’s. He did take Harriet Jacobs, but he didn’t know
    Harriet Jacobs real name. But that was a moment where
    people like Dubois and Callaway and Murray thought this
    is our opportunity. And unfortunately it was
    a very short-lived moment of brilliance, and –>>They blew it. [laughs]>>As far as I know Murray’s
    collection didn’t even come back to the Library of Congress whole. Part of it is now at
    Howard, for example.>>Well that’s true, and I was
    telling Ezra one of my first jobs when I came to the Library
    of Congress was to sort out, and I was an intern before the
    Center for the Book was created and interested in collection
    development. And I was asked to help sort out what was then called the
    Colored Author Collection, that was the leftover part
    of the Murray Collection, and with these labels across them. But I did it in conjunction with a wonderful woman named
    Dorothy Porter at Howard. And the agreement was that
    if we came across duplicates that Howard wanted, they went
    there and so I was part of that. And the other part of it was
    to take the wonderful pamphlets that somehow had come back from
    Paris and index them and put them as the Murray Collection
    in the rare book and special collections division. So they’re bound together in
    several different volumes, but that’s what’s left of their
    heritage in terms of materials. But, of course, his heritage
    lives on through the association and the fact that there’s now a
    new scholarly interest in Murray. And you mentioned to me a
    book that someone had done about the exposition and I know
    of someone who is now doing — and I have wrote a letter of
    recommendation for her fellowship. A full-time time, not full-time,
    but full biography of Murray and his family in Washington,
    and the role that family played. You know, in terms of what is a form
    of the author thinks of, you know, black elitism in a way, but
    it has to do with the families and the growth of Murray in
    his family and is not as much about Murray at the
    Library of Congresses. I would like to see, but maybe
    she’ll get to that as well. So I’m glad that we
    introduced the topic again and we can follow up on it. Well, please join us for
    the book signing outside, but in the meantime, join me
    in thanking Ezra Greenspan for a wonderful presentation. [Applause] Thank you.>>This has been a presentation
    of the Library of Congress. Visit us at

    Family Survives Train Slamming Into Car On Railroad Tracks
    Articles, Blog

    Family Survives Train Slamming Into Car On Railroad Tracks

    August 9, 2019


    Brotherhood of the Broadaxe
    Articles, Blog

    Brotherhood of the Broadaxe

    August 9, 2019

    – [Voiceover] Your
    support helps us bring you programs you love. Go to,
    click on Support, and become a sustaining
    member or an annual member. It’s easy and secure. Thank you! – [Voiceover]
    Basically, they were young men when they left
    the Scandinavian area, hoping to earn their
    fortune in America. – [Voiceover] You
    learn to get along with other people that
    you had to work with, and you learn to work. – [Voiceover] The most difficult
    part of that whole drive, was getting that 15 miles
    to what we call the canyon. – [Voiceover] Just
    think of the people, to see all them ties
    stacked down to Riverton. There wasn’t any trucks
    or anything then. How’d they get
    there? (chuckling) – [Voiceover] It was
    one of the better jobs, you know, an experience
    of a lifetime. (majestic orchestral music) – Hello. I’m Joe Brandl. Around the turn of the century, when Americans were
    still pushing west into the open spaces, a vast new network of railroads moved people and commerce
    across the continent. To lay the tracks
    and maintain them, you needed wooden ties
    to support the rails. Millions of them. Wherever the railroads went, the builders sought
    pine and cypress, and other big trees
    in the nearby forest. The southern Appalachians,
    the Mississippi Valley, and in the west, where
    the rails inched across the treeless plains, they looked to Wyoming’s mountainous forest. They looked to the rivers
    to bring the hewn timbers down on huge
    springtime tie drives. Beginning in 1868,
    they brought ties from Sherman Mountain,
    down the Laramie River, and then further west, down
    the Medicine Bow River. Before long, tie camps were
    springing up across the state. Encampment, Saratoga. To the west, below
    Evanston, and as far north as Sheridan. But the biggest production would
    come from the high country, of the Absaroka and
    Wind River Mountains. It was here, between
    in 1914 and 1946, that tie hacks produced
    over 10 million ties. The railroads were binding
    the young nation together, and the work was being
    done by newcomers. And the job fell to the
    Wyoming Tie and Timber Company. – [Voiceover] Mike
    Olson, who was the superintendent
    of the company, he came from Norway,
    where he had his start in a lumber, or
    timber, operation. He obviously had to have been one of the smartest
    men in the world, as far as I can tell, to have thought
    up and figured out how to get those ties
    out of the woods. – [Brandl] Olson and his men
    faced two important tasks, transforming the green
    timber into railroad ties, and then, getting those
    ties out of the wilderness and downstream to the railroad. For the first part of that job, the company built
    its headquarters high in the Wind
    River Mountains. Then they brought
    in skilled woodsman from the old country. Men who could live
    in rugged conditions, work through the harsh winter, and hand hew ties
    with a broadax. Modern machinery
    has replaced the men who cut the trees in those days. But 100 years ago,
    swinging a broadax was both a skill and an art. Often, they worked
    from daylight to dark. They were paid by the piece. The more ties you made,
    the more wages you earned. It was just that simple. How hard was the work? Let’s watch Ken Miller. This looks like it
    would be a good tree. We can several good
    ties out of this one. (ax chopping) (lively fiddle music) (ax chopping) (metallic sawing) Timber! (ax chopping) Next thing we have to do is
    score the log on both sides. I’ll be hitting the top
    with the first swing, underneath with
    the second swing, so when I come with the broadax, I can use that
    exactly perpendicular to make as smooth a
    surface as possible. So, on the top. On the bottom. Move forward four to six inches, top, bottom. (ax chopping) As you move toward
    the base of the tree, you have to go deeper, so when you’re done,
    the tie is still a little over
    seven inches thick. Now, if you did it all
    the time in one shape, you could go one side
    and come back the other, without having to stop and breathe. On a broadax, one
    side is completely, is completely flat. There’s no angles,
    no arcs, no anything. It’s completely flat. That’s the side that
    goes to the tree, to make the shape of it
    as smooth as possible. The other side, you can
    see, it’s wedged out, and as it goes in
    behind all these little chips that
    are hanging on there, where it was scored, then, it just pops those off. Sometimes it just takes
    off a little bit at a time. Sometimes it goes quite a ways. Now, this is where you
    have to be careful, where your toe sticks out. Like if the toe’s
    stuck out here, and you have five,
    six, seven pounds come against it with some force, off goes the end of your
    shoes and your toes. That’s where three-toe
    Ol’ E came in. (lively fiddle music) (ax chopping) (wood splitting) The next step after both
    sides are, pretty much, smoothed out, is
    to peel the bark off the top and the bottom. We’ll start with the top, and this is a tool
    called a spud, which is just an extra
    large wood chisel, is what it is. With this being a green tree, the bark peels off. If you get right under the
    bark it peels off real easy. (wood snapping) (tool scraping) The next step will be
    to measure off the ties to eight foot lengths,
    and then cut ’em with this one-man saw. (lively fiddle music) (wood sawing) The next step is to
    roll the tie over, so we can peel the other side. Once you’ve cut the
    eight foot lengths, it’s not so hard to do that. The tool I’m using here
    is called a cant hook. (tool scraping) – The tie hacks usually
    worked all winter. Shoveling snow. Shovel out around the trees to get ’em sawed down. We really had to work
    hard for the wages. – [Voiceover] I would guess 150 ax men around, not counting the teamsters. I helped Andy Kruzik. He was a teamster but he didn’t have any haulin’, so he went to choppin’. And by gosh, that guy, he never stopped. He just was felling, and limbing,
    and scoring them trees. I worked behind him,
    peeling, sawing, and I think we got 48, 48 ties, with me helping. Which was a hell of a good day. – If it was myself,
    if I got eight ties, or ten ties, I was
    doing pretty good, cause I was fairly young
    then, and learning. But most of ’em, they cut between 20
    and 30 ties a day. Anywhere from 21 cents for the smallest tie, which is a nine inch top, to 30 or 31 cents a piece, if I remember right. – But I think some of ’em made eight, ten dollars a day, maybe. Which, hell, that was
    pretty good money, by gosh, in them days. ‘Cause when I started workin’, I was workin’ for a dollar a day on a ranch for a
    number of years. Alfred Olson, he was a tie inspector, well, he graded all the ties. He went round from
    strip to strip. And they knew, he knew
    who’s strip that was. He counted them ties
    out to that fella that had that strip. Turned that into Trigo. They marked whatever
    ties he had for that, usually every month. So, when a guy wanted to go to town, have some money,
    he went to Trigo, and got whatever he wanted. Fifteen, 20, or 50
    dollars or what. The teamsters were
    usually company men. The teamsters had
    two or three teams of these 1200, 1400,
    1600 pound horses. That’s the way
    they moved the ties down to the landing, where
    they was going to drive them. Which up there, Big
    Warren, was all the way up from the head of the flume, way up there toward
    South Fork there, them ties were lined. You can see pictures of ’em. – The story of the
    Wyoming tie hack is an important part
    of our Wyoming history, and because of Wyoming’s
    public television’s commitment to local programming,
    you’re able to watch and enjoy this program. So, I hope you’ll take a moment, and call in your
    pledge of support to Wyoming public television. Help us continue the tradition of great local programming. – [Brandl] Many of the tie
    hacks had come from Europe, and come to stay, along
    with their families, who joined them in
    the high country. – [Voiceover] It was at
    a time of immigration into the United States. – [Stork] Many of them
    had come to this country, leaving their wife
    or a child overseas, and they were all trying
    to save enough money to send for their families. My dad had come when
    I was just a baby. He came to an aunt
    in North Dakota, and he was thinking life
    would be much easier in this country,
    because the Depression had started in Norway. But when he came here, the depression went full force also. So, it took him 10
    years to save money to bring us over here. So, as far as meeting my dad, he was a stranger. – [Voiceover] I remember
    Ingabourg telling me that when she and
    her mother arrived, they couldn’t
    understand their father. He had learned to speak
    English, in the meantime, and it was sort of a mixture
    of English and Norwegian, and he didn’t speak
    the whole language as much as they remembered. – [Stork] We came
    by boat to New York. We entered the
    Statue of Liberty. We had name tags on our coats, saying who we were and
    where we were going. They put us on a train
    to go to Chicago, where we were met by my dad, and then, we came to
    Riverton by train, and we drove up to the tie camp. Dad had made arrangements
    for me to board out during the week,
    to go to school, because they were living
    in the logging camp. So, I boarded with
    them, with some people, and went to school. I did not know a
    word of English, so it was quite an experience. When I’d come home, my
    mother would want to know what words did you learn
    in English this week. She was very
    interested in learning how to speak and understand
    the English language. – [Clayton] Those
    years on the mountain, we were snowed in. We would have had to ski
    off, or be sledded off. Once in a while, they
    could keep the roads open with a bulldozer. – [Stork] They usually
    kept a car or two at the bottom of the hill, in case there was an emergency, if someone had to
    go to the hospital in Riverton or Lander. – [Clayton] But you had to
    ski to school in the winter, cause we lived
    down by the river, and you had to go up this hill, and you’d have to ski because the snow was
    too deep to walk. Then you had all these books,
    so you couldn’t use poles, you had to pack them books,
    you didn’t have backpacks and all that in those days. – For a woman, it
    was plain hard work. One of the stories
    I tell in my book, from Shirley Daniels, of raising a baby
    out in the woods. She was in one of
    the outlying camps. And the baby waking up in
    the middle of the night, and she’d have to get up, and chip the ice
    to get enough water to heat the formula
    for the baby. You know? That’s pretty rough. Those were hard days. There’s no doubt about that. – [Brandl] With
    so many tie hacks and their families
    living in such isolation, there had to be
    a support system. – [Turner] At one
    time, they had used the big cookhouse
    in headquarters, when the men lived
    in the bunkhouse, when they were first
    cutting near there. But then, as the years went on, they moved the cutting, the cutting was
    all farther away, it was too far away for the men to live in headquarters. So there’d be outlying
    camps all around, and there was always a
    cookhouse in each of the camps. And the men could
    bunk by themselves if they wanted to, and cook, but most of them preferred
    to eat in the cookhouse. – [Clayton] You know,
    you made your own fun. You didn’t have a car,
    or anything like that. You were a hundred
    miles from Riverton. We didn’t go to
    doctors or anything. You just got well or died. You didn’t have radio,
    or television, or
    any of that stuff, you didn’t know what was
    going on in the world. That was nice. – But we played games
    in the schoolyard, and in the wintertime,
    you skied to school. We called it going to school. Now they call it
    cross-country skiing. At recess, we outside
    and skied on the hill. At noon, we went home and
    had lunch and skied back. Then recess again,
    and then after school it was take our
    stuff home, ski home, and then go out and ski. – You didn’t have a car to drive whenever you wanted
    to go two miles, or a mile, so it was nice. One thing, you learned to work. You had to work
    for what you got. You had to saw the wood by hand, and cut it, and pack it in, and all that sort of stuff. And everybody was poor. There wasn’t anybody that
    had more than the other, so you didn’t have
    to worry about keeping up with the
    Joneses or anything. It was nice to live up there, and
    everybody was friendly. Anybody in need, everybody
    pitched in and helped. It was just
    altogether different. Then they had this store,
    it had quarters, you know. They had this, they called it an icehouse, and they had ice in
    there that kept the meat, and they had those big
    rings of sausages and stuff. They had sawdust on the floor. That guy, the old butcher, or the man that was
    running the store, I know when we were kids,
    he’d take us in there, and he’d slice a piece
    of that good salami, and give you a piece of that, and cheeses and things. That’s the way they had it, and then people could
    come and buy in the store. And, you know, the bananas
    came on a big rack, and you didn’t have a
    lot of fruit or anything. You got oranges or
    apples once in awhile, that was a big treat. – And when the holidays
    came, they were appreciated. All the hard work,
    all the hard weather, all the distance between
    Wyoming and the old country, gave way to joyous
    celebrations and traditions, still remembered fondly. – [Turner] They did a lot of
    dancing in the old cookhouse. So, that was the gathering place for all of the parties
    and the dances. They’d come of out of the woods, out of their camps to come down for the big Christmas parties. – At the end of the dinner, they would push the
    tables and the benches back by the wall, and
    the Matson brothers both played accordions. They played for
    everybody to dance. They danced till the wee
    hours of the morning, and it was daylight by the
    time we went back home. And I thought, this is different than any Christmas
    I have ever spent. But we had a wonderful time. – One of the things
    I remember the most about the school
    Christmas party, almost always the
    kids gave a play for the community
    or, what, 20 people, whatever we had,
    at the cookhouse. Then the Wyoming Tie
    and Timber company gave every employee’s kid a wonderful box. And I remember this huge, big, huge box, full of presents. Lydia Olson and, I probably assume,
    Louise Van Meter did it too, shopped for
    gifts for each of the kids, individual gifts for each
    of the kids, ahead of time. And that was our wonderful
    Christmas present every year. – [Brandl] Spring arrived, but
    the job was only half done. The next phase involved
    an extraordinary journey. – Well, the way it worked, the full year-round tie hacks were working up there
    all winter long. They would both hew them
    with their broadaxes, and then they, later on,
    put up portable sawmills where they went up into
    the woods above Dunior, and up Warm Springs Creek, and prepared all these
    ties and stacked them right along the edge
    of the tributaries to the Big Wind River. Mainly little Warm
    Springs and Dunior. Then, when it came
    time for the drive, that’s when they
    beefed up their crew. Hired maybe 40, 45, 50 men more, went in there, and that’s
    when the drive started. – There were no
    roads, no trucks, and no rails in
    the high country. So the ties were assembled
    in the high valley in the Wind River Range,
    and pushed into a stream. They were funneled by flumes
    down the steepest part of the canyon, and then,
    to the Big Wind River. Which took them to the
    treatment plant in Riverton. There were really two drives. – [Goodman] The first one was up on Warm
    Springs Canyon Creek. That’s where all the ties
    were brought to one location. There were flumes,
    and smaller flumes, during the high water, and that whole
    Warm Springs Valley was literally filled with ties. So, the first day,
    you had to work on the front of that
    great big pile of ties that went up the river
    probably three or four miles, and start pulling the
    ties out of that big jam, and into the river. It was usually just the hard
    work of pulling the ties off of that big pile,
    into that little creek, Warm Springs Creek, and
    sending down the flume. That was day after day for about almost three weeks, it took for that drive. – [Seipt] We lined ’em
    up to enter the flume so that they were spaced, and not riding up
    on one another, so they’d fly out of the flume. Fifty cents an hour,
    nine hours a day, seven days a week, as good a food
    that could be had. As long as you’re young
    and stupid, it was great. – Setting up camp first, up on the upper Warm Springs Creek, that was cold there. Nights especially. So, we had tepees we set up, on poles so they could
    raise them with poles, and usually had a
    couple of stakes outside to hang your boots
    on upside-down, so they would dry at
    night, and so forth, and put our socks in. So, we camped along the
    River all the way down. – [Seipt] You furnished
    your own boots. The boots were dry boots. Heavy thick soles,
    heavy thick uppers, came about half way up
    the calf of your leg. They were lace boots. Most of them had,
    what do you call ’em, hobnails, or corks, or whatever. They were stuck in the
    bottom of the sole, and they stuck out a
    quarter of an inch, as a gripper, like chains. – One river drive, I
    didn’t have a tepee, so I just rolled a bedroll
    right on the ground. I didn’t care too much
    about how rough it was, because after working
    nine hours on the river, we were tired, and I
    slept through the night without waking up regardless
    of any rocks or anything else. That was our camping
    and sleeping situation. – [Seipt] A typical
    day started early. Started with taking
    down your tepee and poles, and rolling it up, taking it over to where
    they’d load down the trucks to move to the next camp. Breakfast, and then exactly at 8 o’clock, Alfred Olson would holler, “Oh”, and everybody got in the
    trucks and went to work. If the campsite was
    available at noon, we came in at noon for lunch. Sometimes it was remote, and lunch was
    brought down by boat. – I always wanted to
    be on a tie drive, but I thought I was a
    little bit too little. I only weighed about 120 pounds, but I was determined to try. So, I drove all the
    way from Riverton, up to Martin Olson’s cabin, and when I drove
    up to the cabin, he came out on the
    porch and said, “Who do you want?” It kind of scared me. I thought he go gruff. Anyway, he looked me
    up and down, and said, “Well, you’re awful little, but you’re young enough, maybe you’ll do, go and sign up. So, I was happy that I finally
    got onto the tie drive, after many years of
    looking forward to it. The year was 1937. – The year I was on, in 1942, was the early years
    of World War II, and there were three kinds
    of people on the tie drive. There was a
    contingent of Indians, that had been on the drive
    before, and some first timers. Then there was a group
    of Scandinavians, the tie hacks themselves,
    who really knew how to work the ties
    and handle them. Then, to fill out the crew, McLaughlin, Martin,
    and Alfred Olson hired a bunch of us. I was a recent high
    school graduate, and there were a few
    college kids there, they probably hired
    on about 20 of us schoolboys, so to speak,
    to beef up the crew. The arrivin’ up there, we, uh floated down 350,000 ties, which was medium size tie drive, and I remember, first
    thing, we’d get up there just about dark, and the first
    thing they told me to do, was to go out back
    of this little cabin, and they had pike poles,
    as they were called. – They showed us a pile
    of spruce saplings, with the bark on, and they were
    only eight to ten feet long. They had a pike, which
    consisted of a point and a hook, like
    this, hand-forged, and three rings. So, you took the
    pikes and those rings, and you made your own pike pole. – As you can see, this hook here is so
    you could push the ties, and this hook here, is such that you could hook them
    and pull them toward you. – Don’t go away. We’ll have more of
    the tie hack story in just a few minutes. But right now, I hope
    you’ll take a moment to call in your support to
    Wyoming public television, so that more local
    programming can be produced, for Wyoming audiences. – [Brandl] The
    journey that began in the Warm Springs Valley, continued through
    a steep canyon. To do that, a flume
    was constructed that was as tall and twisting as a Coney Island
    roller coaster. It was a key link in the system, that brought the ties
    off the mountain. – Of course, they
    had the big flume along the side of Warm
    Springs Creek there, and that was one of
    the engineering marvels of the state. – The flume was a V-shaped, made of boards, waterway. Olson and Van Meter supervised the
    building of the flume, from the head of the
    flume near the bridge, through the big Warm Springs
    Canyon natural bridge, down to and into the river, at the Nobarison place. – The flume was several
    years old by 1942, and the planks had
    shrunk as they dried out. So, there was a crack
    in two or three places about an inch or
    half-inch thick. So, they had some of us
    try to seal those cracks by shoveling dirt in the flume, and they were hoping the
    mud would seal it off. My job, at the upper
    end of the flume, was to hook the ties as
    they started to pile up into the flume,
    with my pike pole, and run along the catwalk, encouraging them to
    go on down the creek. Then they dumped out into
    the pool in Warm Springs, and then went on
    down into the river. It was quite a feat. – I think it was unique. Where it was necessary, it hung from the
    walls of the canyon. Where it could be
    it was on trestles. The curves were such that the ties didn’t build up momentum, and
    fly out, and it worked. The flume went through
    the natural bridge. It was kind of hairy, because there wasn’t
    room to stand upright. Nor was there room
    for a catwalk, so when you went
    through the flume, you kind of monkey walked, a hand and foot on one side, and a hand and
    foot on the other, for a distance to where
    there was room enough again. About two miles up from
    the river end of it, was a flume camp, with three or four guys in it, who monitored the
    ties coming down. They kept track, if
    there was a space, obviously there was
    some problem upstream, and they notified the head end, so they stopped feeding ties in. The biggest problem, and that wasn’t really
    a difficult problem, once in a while, a
    light tie would ride up on the tie ahead of it, and then when it went
    around the corner, the momentum would throw
    it out of the flume. But, that was 100 or 200
    ties in a drive. It wasn’t a big problem. But there was a crew monitoring the flow of ties. – Now it was time
    for the most dramatic part of the process. Hundreds of thousands of ties, over 600,000 in 1925, all poised to take a wild
    ride down the Wind River. The water churned,
    the ties rolled, and the men guided them down, poking, pulling, and dancing. 100, 200 men, and a big
    piece of the forest, floating down the stream. It was a nine mile
    journey by flume. It ended where the Warm
    Springs joins the Wind River. About nine miles
    upstream from Dubois. It was July now. Quite a change of season
    from the cold winter days, when the men were out in
    the woods, cutting trees. As the ties came into the river
    from the Warm Springs flume, another batch from the
    Absaroka Mountains, floated down Dunior
    Creek from the east. Stacked along the
    bank of the river were more ties, cut
    a lower elevations. – [Voiceover] It may have
    went on down as a tributary of the Big Wind, and
    all merging together to come down the stream. – Second phase
    after all the ties were dumped in by the
    flume into the Wind River, about nine miles above Dubois, then we started the
    main river drive, and most of the
    ties, at that time, were hung up on the sides, on the banks, or on
    the rocks, or trees. And our job was to keep
    standing in the water, pulling them back
    into the river, day after day. That was the upper part of
    the river was easier to go, but after you got
    down below Dubois, in the canyon, it
    was very difficult to get through that canyon. – The most dramatic thing, which I’m sure you encountered
    in some of the movies, was when you get a jam, and the ties will start
    backing up for miles. And have tens of thousands
    of ties all piled up and not moving. – They had a special crew of
    people who were agile and knew how to handle it, who broke up the jams. Generally, the jams
    occurred in Fish Canyon. There’s some boulders
    in there, it’s narrow, and it’s fast water, that they had a crew
    of four, five guys that were the jam pullers
    that kept that open. You just simply, as a matter of keeping the ties moving downstream, you either worked
    in the back eddies, pulled them back
    into the main stream, or if they were piled up, you pulled them in, herding ties downstream. – [Brandl] They
    worked a nine hour day on the ice cold snow melt river, wrestling with heavy
    ties that got heavier, as they soaked up the water. Amazingly, in 30
    years of tie drives, no one was killed, but
    boy, they did get hungry. – The food is the thing
    that stayed in my mind as being the best thing. That was a three-times-a-day
    experience. And that kept us going,
    and I think I remember that probably more than
    any other thing. The cook was Adolph Solomon, and he was noted to be,
    probably the best outdoor cook in maybe the whole world,
    as far as I’m concerned. In the morning, breakfast
    consisted of pancakes. The pancakes were mixed
    up in a big washtub, they took, 15 dozen eggs were put in first, and there were
    other ingredients, flour and so forth, and they’re
    always light and fluffy, put on a big grill over
    the fire, open fire, and we had some of
    the best pancakes. Then, they always had
    a whole Dutch oven full of bacon, fried just right, another Dutch oven full
    of sausages, link sausage. Then there were a
    couple of Dutch ovens full of scrambled eggs. And anything else
    that went with it, the syrup and everything
    that went with it, so we had the fabulous
    breakfast everyday. Never failed, all the way down. The breakfasts were
    especially good. They gave us a good start,
    and we needed a good start, because it was from
    6 and 7 o’clock until noon before
    we’d eat again. When we were down
    at the red rocks, where the camp was
    visible to tourists, some people would stop in to see what’s all that about? Adolph always fed them. When your tie drivers
    were through eating, there was plenty
    of food left over, and you can eat all you want. – Team from Riverton was
    going up the 35 miles to Diversion Dam,
    and sort of welcoming the tie hacks coming
    down the creek. That was another popular place to go see the ties
    coming down the river, cause they were all jammed up behind Diversion Dam. It also was a nice
    place to set up the iron kettles, and you got a free meal
    off Wyoming Tie and Timber. – It was never a smooth
    ride down the river. There were twists and
    turns, rocks and boulders. The tie hacks made it
    through Fish Canyon, a natural obstacle. Then they encounter
    Diversion Dam. Erected in 1921 to divert water from the Wind River, into
    the irrigation system. This, of course, reduced
    the amount of flow into the river, which
    exposed rocks, sandbars, cottonwood snags. This slowed down the tie drive. – Most of the water
    from Diversion Dam is being diverted down
    the winding canal. So, at tie drive time, the water going over the dam might be only an
    inch or two deep over the dam, and, or course,
    the ties would come down, and they wouldn’t clear the dam. So they had a whole string of us stationed at the
    dam with pike poles, big long poles like I was
    telling you about here. You would just lift the
    front end of the tie enough to start it over the dam, and then it would go
    ahead over the dam, and go on down the river. But the Diversion Dam was
    a full-blown obstacle, and all 350,000, a few of
    them might have gone over, but they all had to be
    lifted an inch or two to clear the dam, so they
    could go on downriver. – Getting them over
    the Diversion Dam was quite a problem. The ties were backed up
    in that basin for miles. And I thought, “How in
    the world they ever get that over that dam.” I found out that basin
    pretty well filled with silt. So, we were about
    ankle deep in silt, and the water was about
    up to our armpits. And we’re able to walk
    along in that silt, and push these ties ahead of us and gradually push
    ’em over the dam, feeling along with
    our feet and so forth. And I guess that’s the thing
    that I remember the most, because it probably was one of
    the most challenging things. After we got down
    below Diversion Dam, where the river spread out, we had to carry ties as
    much as two or three blocks away from the river. One day, we spent all
    day, nearly 100 men, all day carrying one big pile
    of ties on our shoulders, back to the river again. – You worked in crews where two guys loaded, and about three other
    crews of two carried. The loaders would
    lift the ties up and put ’em on your shoulder, and you walked
    lock-stepped to the river and dumped ’em in, and
    came back for another load. That was hard work. It was difficult work. – The closest call I had was coming within a
    breath of drowning. A big tree had fallen down
    across the river, was right out into the stream, and as the ties came down, there had been a
    whirlpool created by this tree out into the river, and there was a
    whole bunch of ties, 100 or so were stuck out there. I decided I would ride
    out into this whirlpool, and pull these ties out
    into the main stream, and get ’em on down the river. Well, I got out there and in the milling around there I fell out my little
    homemade tie boat, and I was hangin’
    onto a tie out there, and getting more and more tired. One of the fellows on the drive, Victor Montoya, saw my plight, and I could still remember him wading out into the water, and it was deep there
    in that whirlpool, he was just about
    up to his chin, and he stuck out his pike pole, which I got a hold of and pulled me over to the shore. Otherwise, I might have been
    a casualty of the drive. – As it dropped down
    from the mountains to the high plain, the Wind
    River slowed and meandered. Soon the railroad
    bridge was in sight. The tie hacks had been
    weeks on the river, travelling over 100 miles. Now came some of the
    hardest work of all, getting the ties
    out of the river, and stacking them
    at the tie plant. Billy McLaughlin
    was in charge of the tie yards. He’d built an ingenious
    boom of logs on cables that was angled into the river, and the ties would go
    cross-ways cross those. And the ties jammed some three or
    four miles up the river. But the ties were funneled
    down two channels, side-by-side, so the two
    different conveyor belts, two levels, would
    pick up these ties, and take ’em up
    on conveyor belts. – It would take ’em up
    one behind the other, and then as they
    got up to the height of the conveyor going down to where the tie yards were, they’d turn, and they
    had a guy helping them make that turn there. But the ties were
    stacked 14 ties high, and as they came along,
    wherever you were working, they had a little deal
    that kicked them off, so they would jump off
    this conveyor belt, and then your job was to stack three piles, one, two, three, away
    from the conveyor belt. – The two of us
    would have to pile 360 ties in one hour. That meant a tie had to be
    handled every 10 seconds. Then you had to be out of the
    way and get them straight. – One day when I was
    totally exhausted, pretty late in the afternoon, after I’d worked all day, I was hitting a tie
    just at the moment Gene Law put his boot out there. So, I pinned him to the tie, but luck was with me. The pickaroon tooth
    went right between his big toe and his next toe. He didn’t even bleed. A lucky miss on my part there. – From there, they dried and they were loaded
    onto dinky cars, pulled by a little dinky engine, and put into a huge retort and treated with creosote to
    make them last longer. – The rest of the crew, well,
    they headed into Riverton. To celebrate, and spend
    their hard-earned money. – Of course, the end of
    tie drive in Riverton, was a time of great
    celebration for the tie hacks. They looked forward to the
    end of their year cycle. A big celebration. The saloons and the
    entertainment houses were ready for them of course, and sometimes they
    would come to the end of their week of time there, all their money gone, happy
    cause they had a great time, and go back and start
    the cycle over again. – Riverton had a
    house of ill-repute, which was a very
    popular stopping place for the tie hacks. We’d been there all winter long, and now we’re coming
    down the river. Some of the ladies, and the
    mothers of the community thought that was a
    pretty nice thing because these wild tie hacks
    wouldn’t be out there pursuing their daughters,
    or their sisters, or their aunts, or
    whatever it was. I’m sure that the Little
    Yellow House, as it was called, did quite a booming business after the tie hacks came to town after months in the woods
    and weeks on the river. – The local office is
    where the Elks Club is now. There was free beer, and that night there was a dance up above the office. Went up and down the
    street honking their horns, the trucks they hauled us in. When they were broke,
    they put ’em on the wagon and took ’em back
    up to the woods, and they prepared for
    another trip to Riverton. – The men were
    part of the family, and so, whatever was needed, the company took care of. It was particularly
    noticable in the waning years of the Wyoming Tie
    and Timber company, because by then we had
    a lot of old timers, old time tie hacks, who couldn’t
    do much out in the woods. But there was one camp we
    called the old man’s camp, and that’s where the ones
    who would really be retired could live for as long
    as they wanted to. And if they wanted to go
    out and chop down a tie, they could do that, chop down a tree and make a tie. But they didn’t have to. They weren’t expected to. – [Brandl]
    Mechanization replaced many of the woodsman’s skills. The winters in 1940
    were much more severe. It got harder to find men willing to live and work so
    much of the year in the woods. In 1947, less than
    100,000 ties were cut, and they were
    loaded onto trucks, not floated down the river. For one generation,
    the broadax sang and carved with precision, and then it was over. (pensive orchestral music)

    Traveling Pakistan By Train Multan To Lahore Railroad Journey
    Articles, Blog

    Traveling Pakistan By Train Multan To Lahore Railroad Journey

    August 9, 2019

    Multan Cantonment railway station is a major railway station on Karachi Peshawar Mainline in the City of Multan Punjab It is Stops for Jaffar Express Pakistan Express, Awam Tezgam, Night Coach Mehr Express Bahaudin Zakria Express Multan Express Karachi Express and More freight and Passenger trains. 24/7 Available Today our journey on Karachi Express It runs between Karachi and Lahore. Distance between Multan and Lahore is 315 Km. Train takes 4 to 5 Hours. Khanewal is Junction Railway Station for Lalamusa Khanewal Branch line, Lodhran Khanewal on Pakistan Railways Karachi Peshawar mainline. Harappa is an archaeological site was built approximately 2600 BCE A small village on the Karachi-Lahore railway line during 1865 was named Montgomery after Sir Robert Montgomery, Later, it was made the capital of the Montgomery District. ts name was reinstated as Sahiwal in 1967 after the Sahi clan of Kharal Rajpoots who are the native inhabitants of this area Primary Owner of Sahiwal Cow Breed. The city is in the densely populated region between the Sutlej and Ravi rivers. The principal crops are wheat, cotton, tobacco, Corn, potato and oilseeds, and Sugarcane. Sahiwal power plant is Pakistan’s first supercritical coal power plant, and consists of two 660-megawatt plants a combined capacity of 1,320 MW. This is the first phase, and may be followed by a possible second phase which will include two 1,000-megawatt plants. Though the plant is now considered to be part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which was announced in April 2015, The plant was built by a joint consortium of China’s state-owned China Huaneng Group which own 51% of shares, and the Shandong Ruyi, which hold 49% of shares. The Government of Pakistan will purchase electricity from the consortium at a tariff of 8.3601 US Cents/kWh. The project was built on a build, operate, transfer basis in which the plant’s ownership will be transferred to the Government of Punjab after 30 years of operation. The project site spans a total of 1,700 acres, given by the Government of Punjab free of charge. most of the coal used for the power plant is imported from Indonesia and South Africa, and is transported by rail from the Port of Karachi and Port Qasim to the Power Plant on Pakistan’s existing railway infrastructure. Like, Share and Subscribe Tarar Support for more videos thanks..

    When A Man Saw An Animal Tied To A Railroad Track, He Faced A Race Against Time To Try And Save Him
    Articles, Blog

    When A Man Saw An Animal Tied To A Railroad Track, He Faced A Race Against Time To Try And Save Him

    August 9, 2019

    When a man saw an animal tied to a railroad track he faced a race against time to try and save him Jared Tweddle was driving one weekend when he noticed an unusual mass in the middle of a train track upon closer inspection, though He realized that the object was an animal and to make matters worse. It was tied up But Tweddle didn’t just stand by instead. He embarked on a race against time to save the creature Tweddle comes from Oregon where he shares his home with a whole host of furry friends Including one Flemish rabbit a few cats and a pair of rescue dogs Needless to say then the man seems to be somewhat of an animal lover However, seemingly not everyone in 12 states shares his apparent affection in 2017 for instance a rise in the number of animal abandonments was reported in one corner of Southern, Oregon Residents in Jackson County had grown concerned after having noticed that more and more animals were being left on quiet roads Ashleigh Cates was a resident of the area at the time and in just one week She’d learned of three abandoned dogs in her immediate neighborhood I don’t know if it’s the heat or what circumstances are pushing more out right now But the abandonment definitely seems like it’s ramping up She told KOB I in 2017 and the problem hasn’t gone unnoticed by the staff at Jackson County Animal Services either For whatever reason this does happen quite often in Jackson County. Mike sluzer. Ik an officer of the department revealed Speaking of the abandoned animals lose eric said they’re often scared and panicked because they watch their owner or whoever drive off He added in a specific case. It was reported the dog was trying to chase after the vehicle as if to get back in And the reality of animal abandonment was something that Tweddle was about to confront head-on on one Sunday in July of 2018 He was taking a trip to a nearby recycling center then however, something troubling would catch twiddles eye Describing the strange scenes Tweddle told the dodo in July of 2018 There are railroad tracks near the gate out of the corner of my eye. I caught this flicker of movement He added. I thought it was a deer lying on the tracks And perhaps because he’s an animal lover Tweddle was concerned for the creature safety as a result He then rolled down his car window and whistled. It was his hope that the piercing noise would startle the animal off the train tracks But well Tweedles whistling did attract the animals attention. The only response he received was the prickling of two little ears however, now that Tweddle had a better view of the creature he realized that the animal in question wasn’t a wild deer but a dog All of a sudden Tweddle started to get a bad feeling about the dog’s Predicament and his worries were cemented when he realized that the animal was tied to the tracks I went into panic mode the Oregon man later admitted to the dodo the dog tried to walk toward the car but the Rope pulled him back and Although Tweddle knew that trains passed over that section to track a minimum of three times a day He had no idea of the schedule as a consequence Then he jumped out of his car to launch a race against time to free the dog Speaking of the pooch twel revealed. He was obviously scared. I was worried about whether or not he’d let me get close to him I patted my leg and said hey little buddy his tail just started wagging. That’s when I knew he’d be okay with me approaching him Now that Tweddle knew he was safe to help the dog His only hurdle was saving the distressed canine before it was too late The summer heat had already taken its toll so the abandoned animals welfare depended on his rescuer freeing him as quickly as possible And His Tweddle worked to unshackle the dog. He may have thought about the person who had heartlessly left the animal there The rope was tied in a figure eight like you would use to tie a boat to a dock Tweddle later revealed Someone did this 100% on purpose. It just made me sick Thankfully though Tweddle was able to free the dog from its precarious position and to ensure that the pooch was well looked after The rescuer took him home with him It was at this point that the young dog became known as Samson a name given to the animal by treadles family from that moment Well cared-for Samson is one of his own Back in the safety of his home the Good Samaritan bathed the dog and picked off the burrs from his coat Luckily despite there being a small gash on Samson’s neck the pup appeared to be in pretty good shape what’s more it didn’t take the dog long to find his place and Tweedles family and The man who had rescued and was particularly happy to see Samson form bonds with his other pets The dogs have all been getting along great twiddle revealed to the dodo all they’ve been doing since I brought Samson home is play Meanwhile, although it was believed that Samson was only six months of age at the time of his retrieval from the train tracks He was already quite the handful He’s definitely rambunctious and really big Tweddle explained In fact, the Oregon native suggested that someone may have dumped Samson when the dog had grown larger than expected Thankfully though Samson’s darkest days appear to be behind him and although 20 Originally planning on looking after the dog until a new home could be found it may very well be the case that Samson’s permanent home will be with the 20s all Samson is a really great dog. The animals rescuer gushed to the dodo

    Police seek info in murder of man found near railroad tracks
    Articles, Blog

    Police seek info in murder of man found near railroad tracks

    August 9, 2019


    How Japan’s Bullet Trains Changed Travel
    Articles, Blog

    How Japan’s Bullet Trains Changed Travel

    August 8, 2019

    Today’s high-speed trains will have you cruising along at 350 kilometres per hour. A ticket is about the same as a flight, and the door-to-door time on some of the world’s most popular routes is the same, or less than getting a plane. But decades ago rail travel was in decline. It faced fierce competition from the air and auto industries. Then came Japan’s bullet train. By the late 1950s, Japan’s economic miracle had transformed the war ravaged nation. Its economy was growing quickly. The area between Tokyo and Osaka was booming with industry. People were flocking to the capital for work but the rail line connecting the two major cities couldn’t take the stress. In 1958, a government panel was set up to tackle the problem and several potential solutions arose. Among them, building the world’s first high-speed rail line. Many were skeptical, but two men were true believers. Shinji Sogō was the then president of the state-run Japanese National Railways. The other, Sogō’s colleague, veteran engineer Hideo Shima. Up against bureaucratic obstacles and fierce opposition – the two drove the project forward. In 1959, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen line started construction under Sogō’s leadership. Shima was appointed the project’s chief engineer. His team designed the sleek and revolutionary cone-shaped front – from which the bullet train got its name. Rather than being pulled by an engine in front, each carriage of the bullet train was driven by an individual electric motor, which has proven to be safer, faster and more efficient. Apart from the train itself, the team also built wider tracks, which were more costly but allowed for greater stability and higher speeds. 3,000 bridges and 67 tunnels were built on the 515-kilometer line to allow a clear and largely curveless path. Older trains were banned from the new line. Equipped with advanced technologies, the new trains were able to travel as fast as 210 kilometers per hour, a breakthrough in the passenger rail industry and the world’s fastest at the time. The journey time between Tokyo and Osaka was cut from over 6 hours to 4. On October 1, 1964, the new line opened, just in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games. But neither Sogō’ nor Shima were invited for the inauguration. They both resigned in 1963 because the project’s budget came in at double what was promised – 400 billion yen, the equivalent of 3.6 billion US dollars today. But despite their premature departure, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen line was an immediate success and quickly turned a profit. It transformed the nation – allowing more people to work in metropolitan areas and became a symbol of Japan’s postwar re-emergence as an economic and tech power. Now over 300 trains operate on the line everyday. And the trip between Tokyo and Osaka has shortened to two and a half hours. The number of passengers has also soared, reaching 165 million in 2016. After the success of the Tōkaidō Shinkanse line, Japan has continued expanding its high-speed rail network and plans to build more. Following Japan’s lead, countries like France, Germany and China have also developed high-speed railways. By the end of 2018, the total length of high-speed rail network in the world will be over 46,000 kilometers, and over half of it is in China.

    Railroad crossing arm comes down on Wake County bus with students on board
    Articles, Blog

    Railroad crossing arm comes down on Wake County bus with students on board

    August 8, 2019


    The Problem With Fast Trains: What Happened to Hovertrains?
    Articles, Blog

    The Problem With Fast Trains: What Happened to Hovertrains?

    August 8, 2019

    In 1974, a French train smashes through a
    speed record, exceeding 250 miles per hour. But this train is unlike any other before
    it. It doesn’t have wheels. It hovers on a cushion of air, and because
    of that, it can travel efficiently at very high speeds. Maybe, you’ve never heard of hovertains,
    but by the 1970’s, they were seriously being considered as the solution to slow, antiquated
    railways which, in many countries were in decline. In the 1960’s, railways were in trouble. In developed countries, ridership was plummeting
    and railways were in decline. In Britain, some routes were still served
    by steam locomotives. And the public was beginning to view rail
    as slow and outdated. Trains now had to compete with newly built
    superhighways and intercity air travel. And even Japan’s newly introduced Bullet
    Train, a technical marvel for 1964, was initially only running at speeds of up to 130 miles
    an hour. Part of the problem was most rail lines in
    the developed world, were built a half century earlier, with their sharp twists and curves,
    they just weren’t built for speed. But the trains also had a problem. And it had to do with the shape of their wheels. Train wheels are not perfectly cylindrical,
    they’re cone-like in shape. And this is what keeps them on their track,
    especially around curves. While the wheels also have flanges, these
    are really just a backup in case limits of that conical shape are exceed. The conical shape of train wheels is a brilliant
    innovation. But there’s a problem, and it’s called Hunting
    Oscillation. At higher speeds, the cone-like shape causes
    a train to increasingly rock from side to side. The flanges start hitting the track, which
    increases resistance, making higher speeds inefficient and causing wear and damage. Given enough speed, Hunting Oscillation can
    even cause a train to derail itself, on a perfectly straight track. This meant that trains essentially had a speed
    limit built right into their basic design. So in the 1960’s, the thinking was that
    maybe it was time to get rid of wheels all together. The French have already built the Aerotrain. Designed to reduce the running friction problems of wheeled trains by doing away with the wheels. It’s called a hovertrain. By feeding high pressure air through lifting
    pads, the train would float on a cushion of air much like a hovercraft. The track would act merely as a guideway. Without the rolling resistance of wheels,
    a hovertrain promised efficiency and much higher speeds. And leading the way for this promising technology
    was a French engineer named Jean Bertin. By 1973, Bertin and his team had built a hovertrain
    that could carry 80 passengers. French officials and the media marveled at
    its combination of speed and smooth ride. Bertin called his designs Aerotrains. Over the years, he had worked tirelessly to
    develop several prototypes, proving the viability of the concept. With each success, he secured a healthy dose
    of government funding. The most advanced Aerotrain was powered by
    a turbofan. pretty much straight off an airliner. It produced over twelve thousand pounds of
    thrust. At the front, a 400 horse power gas-turbine
    supplied high-pressure air to hover this twenty tonne loaded train a quarter of an inch off
    its guideway. And the guideway, was essentially poured concrete. An Aerotrain could easily hover over imperfections. That meant that hovertrain lines were potentially
    easier to build than conventional rail and cheaper to maintain. On March 5, 1974, an Aerotrain proved it could
    travel at nearly two hundred and sixty miles per hour. And it might have gone even faster, had its
    test track had been longer. The success of Bertin’s prototypes led to
    plans for Aerotrain links throughout France. And just a couple months after the record
    breaking speed-run, a contract was signed to begin construction of the very first line. Outside of France, the world was also taking
    note. The British, who had invented the hovercraft,
    could see the enormous potential of hovertrain technology. They constructed their own hovertrain test
    track in 1970. And in some ways, Britain’s research into
    hovertrains was even more advanced. Their prototype, the RTV-31 Tracked Hovercraft
    was designed around another important innovation. The Linear Induction Motor. Although Bertin also experimented with Linear
    Induction Motors, most of his Aerotrains were fan or jet propelled. But a Linear Induction Motor is more efficient. Instead of the rotary movement of a conventional
    motor, it provides a linear force for forward movement. Without any of the noise or pollution of a
    turbofan running at ground level. The British were aiming to build a transportation
    system that could travel at two hundred and fifty miles per hour. The Americans, not ones to be outdone were
    also researching hovertrain technologies. In 1965, the High Speed Ground Transportation
    Act was passed. It was an effort to introduce faster rail
    to America. Funding was put towards developing new technologies
    and even licensing Bertin’s Aerotrain designs. Various hovertrain prototypes were developed,
    some powered by Linear Induction Motors, others by Jets. But the most developed prototype was the Urban
    Tracked Air Cushion Vehicle. With its sleek windowless cockpit and Blade
    Runner styling, it certainly looks fast. It was designed to operate in heavily travelled
    urban areas and had a top speed of about 150 miles per hour. The Tracked Air Cushion Vehicle was a fully
    developed prototype that underwent regular testing on its track in Pueblo, Colorado. At the start of the 1970’s, hovertrains
    looked poised to revolutionize rail. But just a few years later, not a single country
    was pursuing the technology. Ambitious plans for Aerotrain links throughout
    France never materialized. All that’s left today are the abandoned
    test tracks. A global recession in the 1970’s pressured
    governments to cut funding for ambitious transportation projects. And some critical technical challenges were
    never really worked out. At high speeds, hovertrains could travel more
    efficiently than conventional trains but at low speeds, they wouldn’t stand a chance. But that’s not really why they failed. In the 1970’s, the first maglev train were
    already in development. They would use electromagnets to levitate
    over a guideway instead hovering using high pressure air. And so Maglevs promised even greater efficiency
    and speed over hovertrains. But Maglev’s also failed to revolutionize
    rail. After nearly four decades, there’s only
    a handful of them operating in the world. High speed rail today is still based largely
    on conventional wheeled trains. It turns out that the problems of railways
    were overcome not by one revolutionary leap forward, but by incremental improvements. Existing rail networks were modernized with
    sections of track that could handle higher speeds. New signaling technologies were developed
    along with more advanced suspensions. Precision machined wheels and yaw dampers
    allowed for train wheels with less cone angle. And that reduced the hunting oscillation problem. Instead of Aerotrains, the French invested
    in their high speed TGV rail service, which today routinely travels at 200 miles per hour. The British came up with unique solutions
    like a train that could tilt into corners and take sharp curves more quickly. The Americans, at least for the time being,
    mostly stuck with cars. Hovertrains or Maglevs or any other radical
    alternative to rail has to compete with nearly a million miles of rail line already in existence. With stations and infrastructure built-out
    in nearly every city in the world. Turns out, it’s easier to adapt new ideas
    to the existing world than to have the world adapt to radical new ideas. Which is why incremental improvements often
    win out in the end. Although, there’s a new solution in the
    works. A train runs in a new kind of track. It’s actually a reduced pressure-tube, so
    there’s less friction and air resistance. Driven by linear induction motors and air
    compressors. It promises to travel at over 700 miles per
    hour. It’s tube-like tracks could suspended or underground [voice fades out]. I used some conceptual terms in this video,
    like friction, rolling resistance and magnetism. These are foundational concepts, the kind
    that is crucial to understanding how machines work, whether it’s a hovertrain, or supersonic
    jet. But it’s one thing to be made to memorize
    a concept and the formulas, and another to actually develop an intuitive understanding,
    one that’ll actually benefit you in the real world. And that’s why I love . It’s
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    and problem solving skills, which are essential to everyday life. A great place to start acquiring the critical
    building blocks for understanding physics is ‘Physics of the Everyday’. Go to and sign up to
    get started. And also, the first 200 will get 20% off the
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