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We Took the Train (Railroads in America)

por H. Roger Grant

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In this illustrated collection, H. Roger Grant, one of America's leading railroad historians, brings together a rich assortment of personal accounts of train travel in the United States since the dawn of railroading. The twenty-one accounts included here tell of the excitement, the romance, the difficulties, and sometimes the danger of traveling by train. Together they present a lively picture of the great changes that have taken place since the 1830s. Some describe wild rides on high-speed raceways, while others recount arduous trips on rickety branch lines. Rail travel at its most luxurious is recreated--the elegant Pullman sleeping berths, the fine parlor and observation cars--as are some of the more grim journeys of troops, itinerant workers, and prisoners of war in squalid boxcars. Binding these accounts together is an enduring fascination with the rails.… (mais)
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    Working on the Western Maryland Railroad : a collection of employee interviews por Wes Morgenstern (alco261)
    alco261: We took the Train and Working on the Western Maryland Railway complement one another - they are both first person accounts but from different viewpoints. Grant's book is from the customer perspective (passengers) and Morgenstern's book is employee viewpoint.
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We Took the Train is a collection of first person accounts of U.S. railroad travel from the very beginnings of passenger service on the B&O in the 1832 to Amtrak travel in the 1980's. The 175 page book is divided into six sections each containing between 2 and 5 accounts. The first section "The Iron Horse Arrives" opens with a narrative by an unknown author describing his impressions of his ride on the B&O in 1832 and ends with Charles Dickens description of his 1842 trip on the Boston & Lowell.
The second section "America's Railroads Mature" begins with A.O. Abbott's description of riding Confederate Prisoner of War trains in 1864 and ends with an excerpt from Nine Thousand Miles on a Pullman Train: An Account of a Tour of Railroad Conductors from Philadelphia to the Pacific Coast and Return which was published in 1898.
The next two sections of the book are essentially interludes - the first has two accounts of bumming a ride on the train (riding the rails) - one from the book Brownie the Boomer and the other, by Erling Kildahl describing his trip to Jamestown, North Dakota in 1936 in order to attend college. The second interlude describes intercity travel via electric interurban.
The accounts in "The Glory Years" cover the period from the 1880's to the late 1930's. Probably the most exuberant of these is Christopher Morley's account of riding in the cab of the head end power of the New York Central Twentieth Century Limited.
The final section provides descriptions of train travel from the 1940's to the 1980's. I found all of the accounts interesting reading and I think Roger Grant did an excellent job of editing. If you like travel and if you would like to have some idea of what it was like to take the train I think you would find this book of interest. (Text Length - 167 pages, Total Length - 175 pages.) ( )
  alco261 | Sep 26, 2010 |
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Informação do Conhecimento Comum em inglês. Edite para a localizar na sua língua.
For My Graduate School Mentor: Lewis Atherton (1905-1989)
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"Tracks are Back!" crowed officials of Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, in 1971.
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July 22, 1835 This morning at nine o'clock I took passage in a railroad car (from Boston) for Providence. Five or six other cars were attached to the locomotive, and uglier boxes I do not wish to travel in. They were made to stow away some thirty human beings, who sit cheek by jowl as best they can. Two poor fellows who were not much in the habit of making their toilet squeezed me into a corner, while the hot sun drew from their garments a villainous compound of smells made up of salt fish, tar, and molasses. Bye and bye, just twelve - only twelve - bouncing factory girls were introduced, who were going on a party of pleasure to Newport. "Make room for the ladies!" bawled out the superintendent. "Come, gentlemen, jump up on the top; plenty of room there." "I'm afraid of the bridge knocking my brains out," said a passenger. Some made one excuse and some another. For my part, I flatly told him that since I had belonged to the corps of Silver Greys I had lost my gallantry, and did not intend to move. The whole twelve were, however, introduced, and soon made themselves at home, sucking lemons and eating green apples...The rich and the poor, the educated and the ignorant, the polite and the vulgar, all herd together in this modern improvement of travelling. The consequence is a complete amalgamation. Master and servant sleep heads and points on the cabin floor of the steamer, feed at the same table, sit in each other's laps, as it were, in the cars; and all this for the sake of doing very uncomfortably in two days what would be done delightfully in eight or ten.
When railroad men compare notes on the time, they know the hour and take it for granted. For them it’s the minutes and seconds.  Ask the engineer of the electric that takes the first section from Grand Central what he “makes it” and he’ll reply “forty fifteen” meaning forty minutes and fifteen seconds.  I was to be a guest in the cab today and as I waited I became aware of the intense interest everyone had in the idea of getting there when you said you would. The engineer sat studying his watch. It was 44-30 it was 44-45 it was time to go.
Gently we stole out along a corridor of that dusky underground forest where colored lights gleam like tropic birds. “Green!” “Green!” I heard the engineer and his helper saying aloud to each other, checking up every signal as soon as it comes in view. Thirty-three miles later we glided into Harmon and there, waiting for us was one of the 5200’s. 
Have you seen the Central’s 5200’s? They have only been in service a few months. Ours was 5217 and I’ll never forget her.  She seemed as big as an ocean liner when we climbed into the cab.  They handed up a yellow slip of paper to George Tully, the engineer. If you’re the engineer of the Twentieth Century they don’t tell you to get anywhere by a certain time. They tell you not to get there before such and such.  For George the message was to not arrive in Albany before 5:38.  George consulted his watch (a faithful old Hamilton which he’s carried for 24 years).  It was 3:35:50 and we were off.
I suppose the greatest moments in life are those when you don’t believe it’s yourself. It can’t be you, in that holy of holies of small-boy imagination, the cab of an engine-and such an engine. The first thing that puzzles you is two big canted cylinders in the cab. They revolve in spasms. These feed the coal into the firebox. A man couldn’t shovel fast enough by hand to keep the pressure she needs (she eats four tons between Harmon and Albany).  The fireman called me over and let me try firing her. “No black smoke, and don’t let the safety valve lift. Every time she lifts that means twenty gallons of water wasted-cost 3 cents.”  “Keep her hot,” George shouted to me, “We’ve got five minutes to make up.”
Astonishing how soon one adjusts one’s judgements. Leaning from the cab watching the flash of her great pistons, watching the 1,000-ton train come creaming along behind us, one soon began to think anything less than sixty mere loitering.  The one thing a constant automobile driver finds disconcerting is the lack of steering. As you come rocketing toward a curve you wonder why the devil George doesn’t turn a wheel to prevent her going clean off. And then you see here great gorgeous body meet the arc in that queer straight way – a constantly shifting tangent – and you wish you could lay your hand on here so she’d know how you feel.
  Alive, shouting, fluttering here little green flags, she divided the clear cool afternoon. Looking out into that stream of space I could have lapsed into a dream. I came closer than ever before to the actual texture of Time. This was not just air or earth we flew upon, this was the seamless reality of Now. We were abreast of the Instant. It was Time we fed into the flaming furnace, it was Time that flickered in the giant wheels.  Her cab looked like a clock-shop, so many gauges and dials. But there is no clock in an engine cab. She makes her litany to one god only – the intent man who sits leaning forward so gravely. And he verifies himself by the other little god – the tiny one in his pocket. 
 I sat on the port side where I could see the whole panorama of the Hudson, and far down a curve of the river a white plume where the Second Section came merrily behind use, keeping her three-mile distance.  We passed Hyde Park.  Tom glanced at his watch and said, “We’ve got the dope on ‘em now. Forty-nine minutes to do forty-five miles.”  I began to see that when chance works against him, the engineer instinctively personifies the unforgiving minutes into mysterious enemies who are trying to spoil things. These mischievous divinities had been hovering about us, making us scoop up water (you have to slow down to forty-five for that) and other things; but now we had the dope on them. Railroaders live with Time in a way we rarely dream of. Time is their wife, for better or worse. There was a truly husbandly grievance in George’s eye when, just outside Albany, we had to slow almost to a standstill. Number 7  - which left Grand Central 45 minutes earlier – was right ahead of us.  There was the accent of King Tamerlane in 5217’s whistle as she shouted a blasphemy in steam when we got underway again. We came to a stop in Albany at 5:42 and she wasn’t due to leave till 5:49. Even in spite of that fifty seconds just outside Albany “they” hadn’t been able to put anything over on us. We were on Time!”
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In this illustrated collection, H. Roger Grant, one of America's leading railroad historians, brings together a rich assortment of personal accounts of train travel in the United States since the dawn of railroading. The twenty-one accounts included here tell of the excitement, the romance, the difficulties, and sometimes the danger of traveling by train. Together they present a lively picture of the great changes that have taken place since the 1830s. Some describe wild rides on high-speed raceways, while others recount arduous trips on rickety branch lines. Rail travel at its most luxurious is recreated--the elegant Pullman sleeping berths, the fine parlor and observation cars--as are some of the more grim journeys of troops, itinerant workers, and prisoners of war in squalid boxcars. Binding these accounts together is an enduring fascination with the rails.

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