Railroads and the American People
185 pages
English

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185 pages
English

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How railroads transformed the lives of Americans


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In this social history of the impact of railroads on American life, H. Roger Grant concentrates on the railroad's "golden age," 1830-1930. To capture the essence of the nation's railroad experience, Grant explores four fundamental topics—trains and travel, train stations, railroads and community life, and the legacy of railroading in America—illustrating each topic with carefully chosen period illustrations. Grant recalls the lasting memories left by train travel, both of luxurious Pullman cars and the grit and grind of coal-powered locals. He discusses the important role railroads played for towns and cities across America, not only for the access they provided to distant places and distant markets but also for the depots that were a focus of community life. Finally, Grant reviews the lasting heritage of the railroads as it has been preserved in word, stone, paint, and memory. Railroads and the American People is a sparkling paean to American railroading by one of its finest historians.


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Publié par
Date de parution 17 octobre 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253006370
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 8 Mo

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Extrait

RAILROADS AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
Railroads Past Present
GEORGE M. SMERK, EDITOR
A list of books in the series appears at the end of this volume .
H. ROGER GRANT

RAILROADS
AND THE
AMERICAN
PEOPLE
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, Indiana 47404-3797 USA
iupress.indiana.edu
Telephone orders 800-842-6796 Fax orders 812-855-7931
2012 by H. Roger Grant
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Grant, H. Roger, [date]
Railroads and the American people / H. Roger Grant.
p. cm.-(Railroads past and present)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-253-00633-2 (cl : alk. paper)- ISBN 978-0-253-00637-0 (eb) 1. Railroads-United States-History-19th century. 2. Railroads-United States-History-20th century. 3. Railroad travel-United States-History-19th century. 4. Railroad travel-United States-History-20th century. I. Title.
TF 23. G 677 2012
385.0973-dc23
2012008227
1 2 3 4 5 17 16 15 14 13 12
FOR MY FATHER ,
HARRY R. GRANT (1900-1944)
CONTENTS

Acknowledgments
Prologue
1 TRAINS
2 STATIONS
3 COMMUNITIES
4 LEGACY
Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading
Index
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

NEARLY TWENTY YEARS AGO AN EDITOR AT A NEW YORK CITY publishing house suggested that I write a social history of American railroads. The idea appealed to me, and a contract and advance were forthcoming. Yet I could not rapidly deliver a manuscript, not because I had lost interest, but because I changed jobs, leaving the University of Akron to chair the Department of History at Clemson University.
In the intervening years I continued to write articles, books, and essays on American railroad history, especially after I relinquished my administrative duties. In the process I gathered additional materials that dealt with what I saw as the four key components of a social history of railroads study: trains, stations, communities, and legacy. Indeed, I employed this basic structure to prepare an extended essay, A Social History of American Railroads, for the Encyclopedia of North American Railroads , published by Indiana University Press in 2007.
It is impossible to acknowledge all of the individuals and institutions that have made this work possible. My long-standing connections with members of the Lexington Group in Transportation History, including Keith Bryant, Don Hofsommer, William Howes, Maury Klein, the late Albro Martin, the late Richard Dick Overton, Carlos Schwantes, the late John F. Stover, and James Ward, greatly enhanced my knowledge of railroading. Serving as editor of Railroad History , the semiannual publication of the Railway Locomotive Historical Society, for eleven years provided me with additional insights. During my tenure I considered a wide variety of submissions, including some that I would likely never have read under any other circumstance. And as the sources noted on the illustrations reveal, a number of individuals and institutions graciously assisted. I should also mention that during my academic career I have written more than twenty books on various aspects of the railroad enterprise, ranging from company histories to stations and technology. In the process literally scores of public and private research collections have been examined and documentation assembled and individuals formally interviewed and informally consulted.
I am grateful to the staff of Indiana University Press, especially Linda Oblack, sponsoring editor, to ensure that this study made its way into print. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Martha Farrington Grant, for her assistance in preparing still another book manuscript. I am certain that she knows that the research and writing process will not end in the foreseeable future.
PROLOGUE

FOR MORE THAN 150 YEARS RAILROADS HAVE EXERTED A pronounced influence on the American people. The iron horse literally became the engine for development and general well-being. By routinizing movements of raw materials, goods, and people, railroads orchestrated the growth of the national economy. In The House of Seven Gables (1851) Nathaniel Hawthorne said it well: Railroads are positively the greatest blessing that the ages have wrought out for us. They give us wings; they annihilate the toil and dust of pilgrimage; they spiritualize travel! President Warren G. Harding, a man not remembered for his insightful comments, sensed the value of improved transportation. For the whole problem of civilization, he told a crowd assembled for the formal dedication of the government-built Alaska Railroad in July 1923, the development of resources and the awaking of communities lies in transportation. It can be reasonably argued that if any area explains American greatness, it has been transportation.
By the end of the nineteenth century the Railway Age had matured in the United States. Yet line construction continued, especially on the Great Plains. In 1880 national mileage stood at 92,147; a decade later, after a frenzy of construction, it soared to 163,359, and in 1916 it peaked at 254,251, creating enough route miles to circle the earth ten times. By World War I states such as Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio claimed mileage that was so dense that small communities might have two or more carriers. Then the abandonment process began, particularly among the weakest shortlines, centered initially in the Midwest and South.
The expectations of pioneer rail road proponents mostly materialized. When on October 1, 1833, Elias Horry, president of the South-Carolina Canal Rail-Road Company, addressed a Charleston audience about the impact of the opening of his 136-mile road between that city and Hamburg on the fall line of the Savannah River opposite Augusta, Georgia, he hardly exaggerated the importance of the railroad of that day or much later. Our citizens immediately, and correctly saw, that every benefit arising from the system [of railroads] could be extended to every City and Town in the United States, and particularly to those near the Atlantic. Horry, it seemed, possessed clairvoyant abilities.

That by establishing Rail-Roads, so located as to pass into the interior of the several States, every agricultural, commercial, or saleable production could be brought down from remote parts of the Country to these Cities and Towns; and from them, such returns, as the wants of the inhabitants of the interior required, could be forwarded with great dispatch and economy, thereby forming a perfect system of mercantile exchanges, effected in the shortest possible time, and giving life to a most advantageous Commerce.
Over the following decades the words of Horry, the prophet, rang true. So much of the movement of goods and people depended on the iron horse. After the railroad map had apparently jelled about 1900, actions by scores of communities during the twilight period of construction indicated that steel rails and flanged wheels were still expected to ensure future prosperity. When the inland county-seat town of Ava, Missouri, located in the transportation-starved Ozarks, at last joined the national railroad grid in February 1910, residents cherished that moment. At half past nine o clock last Sunday night the old Ava died and the new Ava was born, crowed the editor of the Douglas County Herald .

The welcome toot of a locomotive whistle was heard as the first train of the Kansas City, Ozark Southern Railway came slowly down the hill from the John A. Spurlok homestead, and stopped in the midst of a cheering crowd at the depot. And from a gondola car at the rear end of the train stepped a cold, tired, but very happy man, a man who, in the face of abuse and discouragement had plugged away until he had made his dream come true. J. B. Quigley, almost blind, had accomplished what Ava had been hoping for and scheming for twenty years to secure - he had completed a practical railroad connecting Ava with the outside world.
The impact of railroads upon the personal lives of Americans can been seen in multiple ways. This study explores four fundamental topics: Trains, Stations, Communities, and Legacy. These units are designed collectively to capture the essence of the nation s railroad experience.
Travel by rail left lasting memories, both positive and negative. The luxury of a fast, all-Pullman train brought great pleasure, while a local with vintage equipment, frequent stops, and slow transit times did not. All types of individuals took to the rails, whether hoboes, immigrants, shoppers, salesmen, or vacationers. If a trip was not taken, the sight of a passing train could conjure up thoughts about exciting people and far-off places. On June 29, 1904, XIT Ranch cowboy William Tanner penned in his diary: Sitting on top of wind mill tower watching an old [Fort Worth ] Denver train go toward Fort Worth. Wish it was taking me.
The railroad station once served as the focus of community life, something that knew no geographical bounds. These comments made by a woman who recalled her childhood typify memo

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