The History of Train Travel

This is part of a short series of articles that I have written on travel. I have always thought that one of the best ways to improve your health is by staying active and challenging yourself to do new things. International travel just happens to fit those criteria perfectly, and can boost your immune system in a way that could help with Candida. So get on a boat or an airplane, start traveling, and enjoy all the health benefits that it brings!

Trains were one of the greatest inventions to transform our world. They not only opened up convenient transportation, but growth and development of new cities and jobs. People could find jobs building tracks or mining for coal to fuel the steam engines. The cost of living went down as produce, agriculture, clothing, animals, and equipment could now be quickly sent in locomotives. Railways had a huge impact on the Industrial Revolution and even replaced steamboats that were used to travel by canals and rivers. During the Civil War, the north used the railways to continually supply the army with weapons and food. The impact was substantial in the development of the US west coast and equalizing the cost of living for everyone across Europe and the US.

Locomotive History

In 1814, George Stephenson, a British engineer, built the very first steam engine for the locomotive. Within 15 years, New York ordered one straight from England, becoming the first American running train known as the Stourbridge Lion. Steam engines, also used in boats, were run by water and fire. Steam built up pressure within the engine, lifting the pistons and causing the wheels to turn. A worker constantly had to add wood and the train stopped at stations to fuel up with water. In the beginning the speed of locomotives was slow, sometimes only reaching 5 mph but quickly increased to around 20 mph. The weight of the Stourbridge was 7.5 tons, making it impossible to add passengers because the weight already exceeded what the tracks were built to hold, 4.5 tons. A little over a year from the first traveling train, a passenger train was built carrying 36 men on the first run. Most passenger trains were opened up, allowing the air to run through the walls. Over time trains were built lighter, tracks were built heavier and steam engines became electric or ran on diesel fuel.

Railroad History

The same year the US ordered the Stourbridge Lion locomotive from England, they began work building the first tracks of the Baltimore and Ohio railway. As the Stourbridge made its first trips, other railways, like the Hudson and Delaware track were being constructed, preparing for a new locomotive to run their tracks. Most tracks were built years before buying a locomotive, making it easier in the beginning to build tracks for short distances. Construction of railways was almost always financed by private investors and there were few people who could afford such an expensive project. The idea of connecting the east and west coasts with a railway had been debated for several years. In 1863 the construction of the first transcontinental railroad began. In 1869 this huge 1907 mile long project was complete, connecting the pacific coast to an existing Iowa railway.

The Future

When people first think of trains, the picture of an old steam-engine huffing and puffing up a mountain might come into mind. Cars get us everywhere we need to go and for far distances airplanes fly us quickly across the country and even around the world. Trains might seem a little old-fashioned, but modern trains are nothing like they use to be 200 years ago. Trains can go 20-30 times faster than the first steam engine did, like France’s TGV train that can hit 300 miles per hour. That is certainly faster than traveling in a car. Trains have evolved and grown as convenient subway transportations that many people take every single day. Tracks have also changed, although the familiar double rail tracks are still woven throughout the country, there are now single rail tracks that run monorails. Continued future development of trains is already in motion. The maglev train has been around for several years but recently has become more popular. Almost like a flying car, it is a levitating train, run with the use of magnets. Maglev trains are more energy-efficient, pollutant-free, cheaper to run, and quieter. They would make it easier and faster for people to travel long distances. The major obstacle is getting it started with a soaring $10 million a mile to construct the magnetic tracks. Engineers are always working hard to improve transportation while keeping costs low and protecting the environment.

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