Category History

About Railroads: The Transcontinental Railroad

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by Allen Johnson

Many of the Union Pacific workers were Irish and German immigrants, and many had seen service in the Civil War. As the railroad move farther west, it entered Sioux territory. While the Indians had largely ignored the occasional wagon train, this was clearly a serious threat to their way of life. Attacks became more frequent and progress slowed as the ex-soldiers were diverted into armed units assigned to protect the remaining work crews. The work went on at a relatively fast pace; one Central Pacific crew laid about 10 miles of track in one day — a tremendous accomplishment since they had no power equipment.

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Early American Railroad History

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by Allen Johnson

The first use of crude railroad tracks was in England and Wales, where donkeys pulled carts full of coal out of the coal mines. Mine owners determined that, with less friction (wheels on rails), it was easier for the donkeys to pull a cart with more coal than previously had been done. In 1803, Richard Trevithick, an English mining engineer, figured out how to mount a steam engine on a moveable platform and constructed the first steam railway engine. Within a few years, the very first steam locomotives were used to haul coal from mines to seaports. In 1825, the first rail passenger service was begun in England, and America’s first railroad was the Baltimore and Ohio, which started in 1830.

Gold was discovered in California in 1848, and thousands headed west chasing after ...

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The Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway

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by Joel Richter 

The Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway provided high-speed electric interurban service from Rochester to Geneva, through Victor and Canandaigua.

The Comstock, Haigh & Walker Company of Detroit started construction in 1902 north of Canandaigua and regular service between Canandaigua and Victor began later that year. The line officially opened on June 15, 1904 with 14 cars providing hourly service. The R&E’s express car service, the Orange Limited, travelled from Rochester to Geneva in less than 1 hour, 30 minutes. In 1904 this was very fast indeed.

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