Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday

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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Postcardy said...

I used to like trains for leisurely and/or short distance travel. We are way behind China and other countries in developing fast trains. Fast trains would be a good alternative to air travel, but not as relaxing as slow trains.

Christine H. said...

I have some very sentimental feeling about those old forms of transportation, even the ones I didn't experience personally. I did experience steam engines as a kid in Germany and they were mesmerizing, enchanting, and magical.

Martin Lower said...

The train in the first picture looks far too heavy for the bridge! I was interested too read that some of the tracks had been taken up and replaced by cycle tracks. That's happened here too, also in some cases it may have been better to leave the tracks alone.
As you say, once they're gone, nobody has the money to put them back..

Brett Payne said...

I recall seeing another photo of that Osceola train wreck, taken from a different angle, when I was research my train wreck article recently. Thanks for the photographic journey.

Far Side of Fifty said...

That was some train accident..I enjoyed your blog about the trains. I like to travel by train and would like to try a streetcar someday too..or a trolly:)

don said...

These are great sepia shots with very informative discussion too. Well done.

Little Nell said...

You have been doing some great detective work! There is so much information here. I love the idea of having a special apron for card parties!