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Fifty railroads that changed the course of history

1 rating: 3.0
A short railroad history by Bill Laws
1 review about Fifty railroads that changed the course...

Trails to rails

  • Dec 23, 2013
Today railroads are romance, but we cling warily today on the shoulders of giants for whom railroads were commerce, industry, science, politics, culture and the future.  This small book documents 50 railroads that these giants built and how they turned  their dreams and visions into steel and steam.

Each railroad is identified by its country, type (passenger or freight), length, year of establishment, and primary historical impact.  Because the book is a small format the numerous picture are small, but this is a beautifully designed and printed volume.  The author also expands in some chapters from the railroad into the list to others similar to it or building on it in the fighter, so that more than just a list, this is a compact history of the impact of railroads on the lives and landscapes of the world they changed and we inherited.

The first railroad in the list, a small mine railroad in Wales, predates the use of steam, diesel, or electric power, as horse power was used to pull mine cars, then freight, then passengers.  The early days of rail basic decisions like types of rail and with of gauge and cars were still up in the air, and documented here are technical, political, and even social implications of these decisions.  Some of the railroads here are iconic because of their luxury (the Orient Express) or their length (the Trans Siberian). 

These were men who turned trails to rails, transforming their and our landscape by the application of technology that transformed our lives, in the great whole for the better.  Today we timidly turn their rails into trails, reclaiming some of the damage and losses of progress, but are too ready to throw out the progress with the problems.

This short rail tour of history covers all the bases and the basics.  This would make a great gift for a rail fan.

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