Saturday, July 2, 2011
The Train and Change in America.
As a young country the United States had no infrastructure for transportation other than river ways and Native American trails. The means to explore the country consisted of walking and riding on horseback. As the country developed, hand carts, ox carts and wagon trains trudged west through wilderness and plains, discovering the necessities of food and water as they traveled. The wagon trains eventually created their own roads that one can still see evidence of today in our country.
The train made the major change to the advancement of the settling of this country. The earliest trains were steam engines that were small but mighty. The size of the steam engine grew with the need for more cars for passengers and freight.
The movement of products, mail, and passengers advanced the settlement of the country much more quickly in comparison to the years by wagon train and horse drawn wagons. As a young boy in the 1950's I can remember the use of the steam engine as it crossed Iowa going from coast to coast. Today the Amtrak carries people coast to coast but the majority of the time we see freighters carrying coal east for the creation of electricity.
Steam engines were replaced in the 60's by diesel engines. During my lifetime the train was eventually replaced by different passenger transportation and the trucking industry advanced and now dominates the shipping of products. Along with shipping by air, the train has almost become obsolete. Railroad track has been removed and the beds turned into bike trails. In some cases it seems they were too easily removed and the wish for some of the track to be put back would be now too expensive.
Accidents did happen as the cell phone and other communications did not exist. Swinging lanterns or red and green lights back and forth and waving flags were the means of communication between people and trains.
The electric powered engine was a trend for a while as the trolley traveled throughout city streets, tied to their electric connection. Above is a trolley that was standard transportation for thirty years or more to the town in which I live to the city of Des Moines.
There are so many factors that change the way we live and many causes that have changed the way we live. Sometimes the changes were for the better and other times they seemed to be an experiment as we transformed a good idea into another better idea or even into a not such a good idea.
The people have changed too as the necessities of life seem to be less of a necessity anymore but more of a luxury. Our level of poverty has changed from no running water, food and heat to poverty being not having a big screen tv or two or more cars.
History has always been a fascination for me and the cause and effect factors are too many for me to give out a very factual post. Being aware of the changes I guess is an appreciation for me of where we are and where we have been.
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