Bill Marvel (7)
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Chapter 1 The Bridge

Bill Marvel Indiana University Press ePub

The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad began, fittingly, with a journey across the Mississippi River. The small group of prosperous businessmen was crossing by boat, not bridge. That would come soon enough. For the moment they were focused on a swifter, more modern kind of transportation: a railroad. The year was 1845, and on this sultry June afternoon, they were headed from the Iowa to the Illinois side for a meeting with the wealthiest and most powerful man in the region, Colonel George Davenport.

The first Rock Island bridge, between its April 21, 1856 completion and May 6–when the steamboat Effie Afton struck just right of the draw span, setting the bridge on fire. A contemporary view of the Iowa side shows the draw span, right, and bustling Davenport, left, where Antoine LeClair donated his house and land for Rock Island’s station and yard. Putnam Museum of History and Natural Science, Davenport, Iowa

Davenport beckons from across the Mississippi in this 1858 Rufus Wright lithograph depicting the arrival four years earlier of the first Rock Island train in its namesake city. Steamboats Ben Campbell and Tishomingo stand offshore. By 1856, a bridge will span these waters. Putnam Museum of History and Natural Science, Davenport, Iowa

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Chapter 2 A Bend in the Road

Bill Marvel Indiana University Press ePub

Rock Island’s late arrival in Council Bluffs left it with a dilemma: Which way to turn? The way west was blocked by Union Pacific. Iowa was fertile ground for branch lines. Minnesota still beckoned from the north. To the south laid Missouri, Kansas, Indian Territory, and Texas. Which way to turn?

All of the above, it turned out.

Since the end of the Civil War, U.S. railroad mileage had grown from 36,827 to 53,399. Before the war, railroads had grown by laying track into virgin territory. Now more and more, they secured and expanded territory by gobbling up other railroads. In 1871 John Tracy cast a covetous eye on Chicago’s first railroad, the Chicago & North Western, whose line laid parallel to and north of Rock Island’s across Illinois and Iowa.

Tracy assigned the task of acquiring North Western to another one of those bright and ambitious young men of which New England seemed to have an unlimited supply. Henry H. Porter was only 15 when he arrived in Chicago from Maine. When Henry Farnham was laying track across Illinois, Porter was already a $400-a-year clerk for the Galena & Chicago Union, Chicago & North Western’s predecessor. In 1867, as Rock Island struggled across Iowa toward Council Bluffs, Porter became a director of the First National Bank of Chicago. He knew who owned stock in what, who was buying, and who was selling. A month after the first Rock Island train rolled to the banks of the Missouri River, Porter was named a Rock Island director. The following year, Tracy, Porter, and several others on the Rock Island board were elected to the North Western’s board, and Tracy became North Western’s president. He left it to Porter to work out details of a Rock Island—North Western merger. Then he turned to other matters.

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Chapter 3 A Rocky Road

Bill Marvel Indiana University Press ePub

The great era of railroad-building was ending.

On July 12, 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner addressed a distinguished gathering of colleagues at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago’s Jackson Park. Many of those present had ridden Rock Island trains to the fair, where they could stroll the grounds and view the railroad’s exhibit of the agricultural bounty being grown along its line.

Turner’s paper had far-reaching implications for the road’s future. In it, he declared that the western frontier, the possibilities it entailed, and the energies that it had called forth had made America unique among nations. But that source of uniqueness, of greatness, Turner told the assembled historians, was at an end. The West was being settled. The frontier, he announced, was closed.

Within a few years, the Los Angeles & Salt Lake laid rails across Utah and Nevada toward southern California. David Moffat began his final assault on the Rockies with construction of the Denver, Northwestern & Pacific. In 1905 Milwaukee Road’s directors approved extension of that line west to Seattle.

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Chapter 4 Planned Progress

Bill Marvel Indiana University Press ePub

The man who saved the Rock Island railroad was a understood every detail of the railroad. And he was a square-jawed, flinty-eyed railroader’s railroader, a slow-talker who chose his words carefully and meant every syllable of each.

John Dow Farrington despised incompetence. When he encountered it in an underling, he would fix the man in a gray, unblinking stare, a crocodilian smile would tug at the corners of his mouth, and he would begin a reaming-out the employee would never forget. Farrington understood every detail of the railroad. And he was a demon on track maintenance. So as he rode north out of Fort Worth in the office car Edward M. Durham Jr. had sent to fetch him to his new job, he learned what he was up against. Rock Island’s line to El Reno—and almost everywhere else—was a bone-shaking ordeal.

The first thing Farrington did when he came on board as chief operating officer—at $25,000 a year, the equivalent of $382,000 today—was take to the rails for six months in a V-8 Ford sedan equipped with flanged wheels. Everyone ducked when they saw it coming down the track.

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Chapter 5 The Road to Ride

Bill Marvel Indiana University Press ePub

The Rock Island was usually not the shortest, nor the fastest, nor the most prosperous railroad between the cities it served. So it had to try harder.

Even in the worst of times, the railroad did its best to field a fleet that gave passengers a run for their money. And when times were flush, the Rock Island often ran ahead of the pack. It was among the first with onboard dining and streamliners. It innovated restlessly, if not always wisely. Its trains might run in the red, especially toward the end, but they ran.

As soon as the track was down and open for business in 1852, two daily trains left Chicago for Joliet. Within months the dozen passenger cars provided by contractors Henry Farnam and Joseph Sheffield could no longer meet demand, and 16 additional cars were ordered. Trains ran full, hauling passengers from Chicago’s passenger house to the end of track, wherever that might be. By 1856 the road was advertised “the Shortest, Quickest and Safest Route” to Kansas and Nebraska—though it had reached neither destination. The roadbed was raw, the crude wooden benches were hard, but tens of thousands of immigrants were already riding Rock Island trains on the first leg of their journeys to the Great American Frontier. Within the decade, they would ship their produce to eastern markets via Rock Island.

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Don L Hofsommer (8)
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1 In the Land of the Hawkeyes

Don L. Hofsommer Indiana University Press ePub

CALLENDER, IOWA: M&STL, THE HOME ROAD

The steam-car civilization came to Callender, Iowa, in the fall of 1870 when Des Moines Valley (DMV) pushed its existing line from Keokuk to Des Moines northwestward from Iowa’s capital city through Perry to Fort Dodge. Kesho, the original townsite, simply picked up and moved across the tracks to the west and rechristened itself Callender. Early train service included a through-passenger run from Keokuk plus scheduled freights.

Des Moines Valley unfortunately was unhealthy. Out of it in 1874 came two roads: Keokuk & Des Moines (K&D), which inherited DMV’s avenue between those points, and Des Moines & Fort Dodge (DM&FtD), which acquired the northern section through Callender. DM&FtD advertised itself as “The Fort Dodge Route – The Great Throughfare between Des Moines and the North and Northwest.” Heady stuff that, but, in fact, the company was no more robust than DMV, its predecessor. Giant Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (Rock Island) took lease of it in 1887, the lease in 1905 passing to Minneapolis & St. Louis (M&StL), which some years later bought the property.

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2 Along the Way: 1950–65

Don L. Hofsommer Indiana University Press ePub

THE NORTH AMERICAN RAILROAD INDUSTRY WENT through monumental change during the 1950s – conversion from steam to diesel motive power, discontinuance of branch-line passenger service, closing of rural stations, decline of electric-traction roads, and even shrinkage of plant. Iowa and neighboring states were a microcosm of the entire package.

Great Northern’s (GN) motive-power assignments in August 1951 at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, were representative of change occurring throughout the industry. Newly arrived diesel road switchers such as 636, from Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, handled freight duties (a daily-except-Sunday turn to Garretson, a yard job, and calls as needed to Yankton). The venerable 2–8–0 at left stands ready as relief, but calls were few. GN predecessor Willmar & Sioux Falls had completed a line linking those two communities in 1881. GN itself put down the fifty-eight-mile route to Yankton in 1893.

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3 In the Land of the Buffaloes

Don L. Hofsommer Indiana University Press ePub

THERE IS NO KNOWN ANTIDOTE FOR PERSONS exposed to the Colorado narrow-gauge-railroad virus. Personal infection dated from family trips in 1952 and 1954, categoric affliction came as the result of spending the summer of 1964 at Alamosa, relapse followed the next year, and flare-ups have occurred ever after. Indeed, once fully exposed, there is no cure, no salvation.

The earliest predecessor of Denver & Rio Grande Western, the Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG), was given life by those who saw in it a powerful tool of urban economic imperialism that would make the aspiring city of Denver the commercial center of the whole mountain area and, indeed, the entire Southwest. Begun as a north–south venture hugging the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, D&RG’s promoters contemplated a strategic narrow-gauge route reaching all the way down from Denver to Santa Fe, El Paso, and finally to Mexico City. Three potential routes were studied:

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4 In the Land of the Gophers

Don L. Hofsommer Indiana University Press ePub

A MOVE TO ALBERT LEA IN SOUTH-CENTRAL MINNEsota offered a fresh vantage point from which to view the rapidly changing railroad landscape in the second half of the 1960s.

A Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific (CMStP&P or Milwaukee Road) predecessor had pioneered railroad transportation in the area with a horizontal-axis route that led from the Mississippi River at La Crescent through Albert Lea to Wells in 1866–70 and later pushed completely across the southern part of the state and into Dakota Territory. In 1907, Milwaukee Road also completed a forty-mile feeder from Albert Lea northwestward to St. Clair.

Second on the scene was Minneapolis & St. Louis (M&StL), which reached Albert Lea in 1877. Three years later, it had punched on southwestward to reach Fort Dodge, Iowa. Eventually, it cobbled together a through route from Minneapolis and St. Paul to Des Moines via Albert Lea, which, in the process, was vested as a crew-change point with active yarding chores.

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5 In the Land of the Sooners

Don L. Hofsommer Indiana University Press ePub

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY AT OKLAHOMA STATE University presented itself during the first portion of the 1970s. Stillwater was Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (AT&SF or Santa Fe) country, located on a spur from what once had been a concave but through route from Newkirk, Oklahoma, to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, parallel to the east of Santa Fe’s main gut from Newton, Kansas, to the Gulf of Mexico. Passenger service had ended November 10, 1956, but local customers still provided attractive freight revenue.

Santa Fe was a well-managed company with premier routes from Chicago to Los Angeles and Chicago to South Texas. In a relative sense, it was prosperous compared to many other railroads at the time. Yet the mood across the industry was grim, and it got worse as the decade of the 1970s wore on. Causes of financial anemia were many and varied among particular companies, but a popular prescription among virtually all carriers was abandonment of line segments, especially branches and redundant secondary routes. Santa Fe was not immune in this regard.

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Edited By Don L Hofsommer And H Roger (7)
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1 The Age of Steam

Edited by Don L Hofsommer and H Roger Indiana University Press ePub

Much of the history of Iowa is associated directly with the Railway Age. No one would deny that the railroad evolved into a magnificent means of long distance transportation, both for freight and passengers. The process began in the United States at about the point when the first Euro-American settlement occurred in the future territory and later the state of Iowa. By the time residents gained admission into the federal union in 1846, the railroad had emerged from its initial demonstration period. Notions about roadbed design and rails had been largely established, and motive power and rolling stock resembled equipment that for decades would dominate rail operations. As the state matured, so too did railways. On the eve of the Civil War railroad mileage in Iowa had reached 655 miles, but by 1890 trackage had soared to an astonishing 8,366 miles that fully covered the state.

Iowa was well suited for railroad construction. The general terrain in this “Beautiful Land” between the mighty Mississippi and Missouri rivers offered no major impediments for shaping paths for the iron horse. Of course, not all of the state was as flat as a floor, but the hills of the northeast, the “pot and kettle” sections elsewhere, especially in the southern tiers of counties, and the steep loess hills along the banks of the Missouri did not make for painfully difficult and costly construction, conditions that often confronted railroad builders in other sections of the country. After all, crossing the spine of the Allegheny Mountains, for example, had been time consuming and expensive, forcing such roads as the Baltimore & Ohio and the Pennsylvania to drive and maintain costly tunnels, deep cuts, and monumental bridges.

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2 Under the Wire

Edited by Don L Hofsommer and H Roger Indiana University Press ePub

Iowans benefited from more than the highly developed grid work of steam railroads. Although the Hawkeye State never became the heartland of the electric interurban railway, a significant number of intercity electric or so-called juice roads emerged between the late 1890s and early 1900s. This new technology appeared in scattered sections of the state, excluding the southwest, with important concentrations in the Des Moines and Cedar River valleys and the coalfields of the south. In 1916 the nation’s interurban network reached more than 15,000 miles and Iowa claimed nearly 500 miles of this total, the greatest mileage of any state west of the Mississippi River except for California and Texas.

What was the electric interurban or electric traction railway? Unlike the street railway or trolley, which only provided local service within a community and possibly a short extension into the adjoining countryside to serve an amusement park, lake, or cemetery, the interurban was designed to connect two or more communities with services similar to those provided by a conventional steam railroad hauling passengers, express, and at times carload freight. These electric interurbans, according to an early advocate, “will perform a service for mankind as notable and perhaps ultimately as great as that rendered by its steam-operated precursor.” A revolution in technology made the interurban possible. In the 1880s engineers and others proved that electricity could be harnessed for urban transportation, and a decade later additional research demonstrated the feasibility of long distance intercity electric railways. In 1899 a system of three-phase alternating current (AC) transmission was perfected that significantly reduced voltage losses; refinements continued, most notably the efficient change by rotary converters of AC to direct current (DC) power.

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3 Down at the Depot

Edited by Don L Hofsommer and H Roger Indiana University Press ePub

Before the widespread presence of internal combustion motor vehicles rails bound together state and nation. At every official railroad station Iowans gained formal access through the depot building to the iron horse or perhaps to an electric interurban car. For decades the gateway to the community, each “deeepo” (a popular pronunciation) meant much to residents.

The depot was usually placed in a central location, although because of line routing, the structure might appear in an outlying area. The selection of a more remote site may have been the result of the local topography or because the railroad arrived after the town site had been established and it was discovered that the expense of a more suitable place was unacceptable. A. B. Stickney, founder and longtime head of the Chicago Great Western Railway (CGW), told fellow executives that “the depot should be built in as close to the business center of the city as possible . . . That way the public will remember you.” It is understandable, then, that when his company constructed its Omaha Extension between Fort Dodge and Council Bluffs in 1902–1903, the depot in Carroll stood only a few steps from the main commercial establishments and just a block from the courthouse.

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4 Shipping by Rail

Edited by Don L Hofsommer and H Roger Indiana University Press ePub

The bread and butter for railroads in Iowa involved freight, including carload and less-than-carload shipments. Simply put: freight paid most of the bills. It was common for the early carriers to dispatch only a single daily except Sunday freight train that conducted switching chores at the various stations. As a system of trunk carriers matured, however, long distance or through trains traveled main lines and likewise the number of local freights increased. On branch lines and shortlines, however, the freight volume generally remained light, with perhaps only a lone movement. And these poky freights might even provide space for passengers, either in an attached coach or caboose, thus becoming “mixed trains” that accommodated “hogs and humans,” as the expression went. Since some traffic moved seasonally or was tied to the vagaries of the local, regional, or national economy, extra trains accommodated these needs. This was particularly true for the annual grain rush that followed the summer and fall harvests and for such shipments as blocks of ice that were cut during the winter months and coal that increased during the heating season.

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5 Working on the Railroad

Edited by Don L Hofsommer and H Roger Indiana University Press ePub

The distinguished American railroad historian Richard C. Overton liked to make the point that “the railroad was commonly the first wage-earning experience for farm boys.” And that statement frequently held true for Iowans. Farm lads often found agricultural work unattractive; the monotony of farm life, with its seasonal and daily cycles of often backbreaking toil, was hardly enjoyable. For decades the chance to become a railroader held bright promises. The likelihood of a steady job in an expanding industry, which by 1920 employed more than two million workers nationally, looked good indeed. As railroad unions or “brotherhoods” gained strength, pay increased and for some railroaders this meant having the means to buy a home and to have other extras for the family. Over time brotherhoods contributed to an improved work environment, including safer conditions. Then there was the excitement of the work, especially in train service, for virtually every day would hold different experiences. Furthermore, at a time when most people did not journey far from home and when paid vacations and leisure weekends had not yet evolved, a railroader could travel great distances at little or no cost, often using a trip or annual pass, or perhaps by showing a brotherhood membership card to an accommodating train crew. “There were a lot of thrills being a railroader and I was glad that I made that choice,” opined a former Appanoose County farm boy who, as a teenager with only a country school education, became a fireman and later a locomotive engineer for the Wabash Railroad in Moulton.

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Gayle Gregory (7)
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1 - Using Educational Neuroscience to Differentiate Instruction

Gayle Gregory Solution Tree Press ePub

1

Using Educational
Neuroscience to
Differentiate Instruction

The argument can be made that schools are again in a time of transition—a period in which it again seems evident that one-size-fits-all approaches to curriculum and instruction are a misfit for too many students, a period in which teachers are once more trying to understand what it means to calibrate instruction based on the varying needs of an increasingly diverse student population.

—Carol Ann Tomlinson

For centuries, teachers have been challenged to address the diverse needs of all learners. As educational neuroscience becomes available to us, we can begin to understand how our students’ unique brains are developing. We can use the emerging information about how learning and memory take place to inform our instructional practices on a daily basis in the classroom. Differentiation and educational neuroscience go hand in hand!

Differentiation in the General Education Classroom

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2 - Creating a Brain-Compatible Environment

Gayle Gregory Solution Tree Press ePub

Creating a Brain-Compatible Environment

One thing that brain research tells us—loud and clear—is that the way we raise and teach our children not only helps shape their brains, but can also influence or even alter the way genes play out their roles. This promising news also means, however, that we have a serious obligation to attend to factors over which we have some control—namely, most things that happen to children at home and at school throughout their growing-up years.

—Jane M. Healy

To effectively implement differentiation strategies, teachers must design and orchestrate a brain-compatible environment. We believe that educators can interpret and apply some basic tenets from neuroscience research to create classrooms that are in line with how natural learning occurs. In this chapter, we offer a variety of simple suggestions that can help transform any classroom into a place where students feel safe, secure, challenged, motivated, successful, included, and independent. As previously discussed, it will be important to determine each student's sweet spot related to a learning environment that is perfect for him or her. For instance, some learners have seating preferences; other students have lighting or sound preferences. Our challenge as educators is to provide the general ambiance with options/nuances to better satisfy each learner's needs.

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3 - Engaging, Exciting, and Energizing the Learner

Gayle Gregory Solution Tree Press ePub

Engaging, Exciting, and Energizing the Learner

One principle that propels the digital revolution is our brain's craving for new, exciting, and different experiences…. Whether excessive or subtle, the instinct to pursue new and exciting experiences frequently drives our behavior.

—Gary Small

One of the more difficult aspects of teaching can be getting students’ attention so that they attend to and ultimately learn the lesson and task. Knowing what types of stimuli will engage the brain can help teachers plan strategies to get their students’ attention. When not involved in survival issues, such as reacting to perceived threats, our brains are most sensitive to novelty and changes that arouse curiosity. New and unexpected sensory input in the environment will immediately get our brains’ attention. Even slight changes in one's surroundings will create curiosity, and the brain will reorient toward the new information. Developing novel situations and using a variety of differentiated strategies can increase a teacher's chances of shifting students from disinterested to excited and energized!

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4 - Exploring the Learning

Gayle Gregory Solution Tree Press ePub

Exploring the Learning

To take advantage of their engaged state of mind, students should have opportunities to interact with the information they need to learn. The goal is for them to actively discover, interpret, analyze, process, practice, and discuss the information so it will move beyond working memory and be processed in the frontal lobe regions devoted to executive function.

-Judy Willis

The five senses keep the body safe. The brain is constantly scanning the environment for interesting, novel, relevant things to pay attention to and ignoring everything else. In the previous chapter, we examined ways to engage learners, capturing their interest and attention so that they may participate in the learning process.

Once attention has been garnered, the information is moved to short-term, working memory. It doesn't have a very long shelf life there (perhaps seventeen to twenty seconds [Wolfe, 2001]), and if the learner is not actively involved in some task, the interest will wane quickly. Teachers are challenged with designing numerous rehearsal tasks that cause students to interact with a particular content or skill until it can move to long-term memory. It is during these rehearsal tasks that students explore and develop concepts and skills that will create lasting memory. With multiple interactions, the pathways that receive more use become stronger, smoother, and more efficient.

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5 - Extending and Expanding Learning for Every Student

Gayle Gregory Solution Tree Press ePub

Extending and Expanding Learning for Every Student

The mission for a school of the future (or the present?) should be to optimally meet children's learning needs. That carries the implicit recognition that every child's brain is unique. And whereas most brains follow a normal developmental trajectory, each is also idiosyncratic in its strengths and weaknesses for learning particular types of information

—John Geake

This chapter will address some common strategies for modifying tasks and concepts for students who are working below the basic expectations or struggling with learning differences. Included are proven differentiated strategies that should be used at RTI Tier 1 every day. Teachers must also add to their bags of tricks a variety of ways to provide lateral enrichment opportunities for students as they meet the standards and expectations. To provide all students with a level of challenge appropriate for their abilities, teachers must learn how to raise the bar and extend the learning beyond the grade-level standards.

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H Roger Grant (11)
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1 Slow, Difficult, and Dangerous Travel

H. Roger Grant Indiana University Press ePub

ROADS

Before the Railway Age Americans faced limited travel options. Nearly always they were slow, difficult, and potentially dangerous. There was little need to question the sardonic judgment made more than a century ago by Henry Adams. This historian and man of letters wrote that persons “struggling with the untamed continent in 1800 seemed hardly more competent to their task [of road improvements] than the beavers and buffalo which had for countless generations made bridges and roads of their own.”1

Although poor land transportation knew no geographical bounds, residents in interior sections of the Old South and the Old Northwest2 experienced severe challenges when they made overland treks by foot, on horseback, or in an animal-powered vehicle. No wonder, then, that from the earliest settlements through the antebellum decades the promotion of internal betterments, including roads, became a popular focus. Improvements to land transport seemed imperative for progress; people wanted to move more rapidly, reliably, and securely. “To persons who have reflected upon the subject of internal improvement, there is no maxim of political economy better understood than that agriculture and commerce will improve, and civilization and happiness spread in promotion as the facility of conveyance increases,” wrote a thoughtful Robert Mills, architect, civil engineer, and member of the South Carolina Board of Public Works, in 1821. “Where men are kept asunder by forests, morasses or inaccessible mountains, their knowledge must be circumscribed and their conveniences few. In proportion as the difficulty of communication is removed, the spirit of enterprise increases.” Yet in antebellum America the federal government did little to coordinate, design, fund, or construct domestic transportation improvements, although discussions and debates repeatedly occurred in Congress, state legislatures, courthouses, and elsewhere.3

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1 Trains

H. Roger Grant Indiana University Press ePub

TRAINS

1

OPERATING TRAINS

From the time that the first train in America turned a wheel, the railroad generated excitement. Powered by its captivating steam locomotive, the moving train was much more than an instrument of progress; it was a true wonder. In his 1876 “To a Locomotive in Winter” poet Walt Whitman captured the essence of the attraction for this mechanical marvel: “The black cylindric body golden brass. Type of the modern-emblem of motion and power – pulse of the continent.” An early patron of the Boston & Worcester Rail Road expressed similar thoughts, but in a nonpoetic fashion. “What an object of wonder! How marvelous it is in every particular! It appears like a thing of life. I cannot describe the strange sensations produced on seeing the train of cars come up. And when I started for Boston, it seemed like a dream.” In a larger sense “the railroad, animated by its powerful locomotive, appears to be the characteristic personification of the American,” concluded Guillaume Poussin, a Frenchman who visited the New World in 1851. “The one seems to hear and understand the other – to have been made for the other – to be indispensable to the other.” Even in the recent past the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) engaged jazz musician Lou Rawls to record a commercial that had as its theme “There’s something about a train that’s magic.”

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2 A Rail Road?

H. Roger Grant Indiana University Press ePub

2

BEGINNINGS

No one knows the exact origin or date of the first railroad.1 It is probable that in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries mechanics and tinkerers in Great Britain and on the continent, especially in the German states, made the earliest developments. “Its invention, like most other valuable inventions of the present day [1829],” as an early student of railroads opined, “is the result of gradual improvement.” Fortunately, a free-flowing transfer of technology from the Old to the New World laid the foundation for the most significant invention in the development of modern society: the railroad. It mobilized, drove, and advanced the Industrial Revolution. During the Railway Age observers of the American scene likely agreed that the railroad seemed ideally suited for what Alexis de Tocqueville, that perceptive French visitor in the 1830s, called the “restless temper” found in the sprawling republic.2

Although it is impossible to date the “first” railroad, it is known that activities in Great Britain by the mid-1700s had led to the construction of widely scattered private “plateways,” “tramways,” or “waggonways” that served collieries and slate and stone quarries in England, Scotland, and Wales. These primitive affairs fit the standard definition of a railroad: an overland right-of-way with a fixed path consisting of paired wooden rails that are elevated to support self-guided vehicles on flanged wooden wheels (wheels with projecting rims or collars). For more than two centuries an assortment of Lilliputian carriers used animals (horses, ponies, mules, and oxen), gravity, human traction, and occasionally wind to propel these cars to a nearby river, canal, or tidewater port. These bulky cargoes then moved wholly or in part by water transport to their final destinations.3

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2 Stations

H. Roger Grant Indiana University Press ePub

STATIONS

2

BUILDINGS

It would be during the “Demonstration Period,” roughly the 1830s and 1840s, that the railroad station evolved. At the dawn of intercity railroads, officials did not fret much about depot design or construction, instead concentrating on tracks, bridges, and other physical aspects of their new lines. Recruiting reliable workers and making plans for operations and expansion also consumed time. An upstart carrier might use or modify an existing structure convenient to its tracks to serve as a depot. When in 1830 the gestating Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) reached Ellicott’s Mills (now Ellicott City), Maryland, 13 miles west of its starting point on Pratt Street in Baltimore, the company decided that passengers should wait in the nearby Patapsco Hotel. When the B&O a year later extended its original stem in Baltimore the short distance to the Inner Harbor, the Three Tuns Tavern served as the depot. Railroad officials believed that travelers could fend for themselves. This had been the experience of stagecoach riders, as operators infrequently owned station facilities; rather, proprietors of hotels, stores, and taverns provided shelter and services. Yet eventually the B&O felt the need to build a structure at Ellicott’s Mills to accommodate and protect shipments of freight. Later the railroad erected a depot designed for passengers, and Baltimore likewise received enhanced passenger facilities.

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3 Communities

H. Roger Grant Indiana University Press ePub

COMMUNITIES

3

QUEST FOR RAILS

When railroads made their debut, there were Americans who seemed uncertain about this exotic transportation form, failing to foresee that rail lines would rapidly become the nation’s economic arteries. Individuals occasionally expressed real hostility. “If God had designed that His intelligent creatures should travel at the frightful speed of 15 miles an hour by steam, He would clearly have foretold it through His holy prophets,” charged a resident of Lancaster, Ohio, in 1838. “It is a device of Satan to lead immortal souls down to hell.”

Then there were those individuals, even with a more enlightened view of religion, who had philosophical differences with railroad promoters and worried about the implications of a potential sea change in domestic transportation. In the late 1830s Andrew Johnson, a future president of the United States, blasted the internal improvement program in his native Tennessee. Like fellow Jacksonians he considered charters granted to railroad companies to be unconstitutional because they created monopolies and perpetuities. Johnson also believed that a railroad would destroy much of the business of wayside taverns, throw out of work those men who depended on the “six-horse teams,” introduce fatal diseases, and “violate the laws of nature” by pulling down hills and filling up valleys.

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