Cover image for Fifty railroads that changed the course of history
Title:
Fifty railroads that changed the course of history
Author:
Laws, Bill, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Richmond Hill, Ontario : Firefly Books, 2013.

©2013
Physical Description:
223 pages : illustrations (chiefly colour), portraits (some colour), maps ; 24 cm
Summary:
"Filled with unusual and unexpected stories and facts, this illustrated survey of the most important historical and contemporary railway lines around the world will captivate a wide audience, from the curious browser to researching students. The book organizes the railroads chronologically, considering each according to its greatest impact on social, commercial, political, engineering, and military history. Maps plus more than 200 elegant drawings, photographs and paintings as well as dozens of sidebars highlight the concise, engaging text. The fifty railroads span history, from the first in public passenger travel (Wales, 1807) to Japans speed-record breaking "Bullet.""--Provided by publisher.
Language:
English
Contents:
Merthyr Tydfil railway -- Swansea and Mumbles railway -- Stockton and Darlington railway -- Liverpool and Manchester railway -- Baltimore and Ohio railroad -- South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company -- Dublin and Kingstown railway -- Brussels to Mechelen railway -- Nuremberg and Fürth railway -- Paris to Le Pecq railway -- Grand Junction and London to Birmingham railways -- Tsarskoye Selo railway -- Ferrocarril de Camagüey a Nuevitas -- York and North Midland railway -- Great Western railway -- Leicester and Loughborough railway -- Sheffield, Ashton under Lyne and Manchester railway -- Paris to Le Havre railway -- Georgetown and Plaisance railroad -- Great Indian Peninsula railway -- Semmering railway -- Panama railroad -- Grand Crimean central railway -- Chicago to St. Louis railroad -- Hannibal to St. Joseph railroad -- Metropolitan railway -- Central Pacific railroad -- Port Chalmers railway -- Canadian Pacific railway -- Jerusalem to Jaffa railway -- Highland railway -- Valtellina railroad -- Cape to Cairo railway -- Jingzhang railway -- Grand Central terminal -- Trans-Siberian railway -- Allied railroad supply lines -- Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway -- Sydney city railway -- Berlin to Hamburg railway -- Prague to Liverpool Street Station, London -- Southern railway -- Auschwitz spur -- Burma to Siam railway -- Dutch railways -- Tokaido railway -- Bay Area Rapid Transit -- Talyllyn railway -- Paris to Lyon railway -- Channel tunnel.
ISBN:
9781770851696
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Praise for previous titles in the series:
Fifty Minerals That Changed the Course of History
Interesting, affordable and readable.... Offers the reader an opportunity to delve further into each mineral's historical significance in an accessible way.
-- Booklist

Fifty Animals That Changed the Course of History
An original approach that links the biological sciences to the social sciences... students and general readers will find many interesting stories within these pages.
-- American Reference Books Annual

The new title in the series, Fifty Railroads that Changed the Course of History , is a handsome, illustrated survey of the most important historical and contemporary railway lines around the world. Filled with unusual and unexpected stories and facts, it will captivate a wide audience, from the curious browser to researching students.

The book organizes the railroads chronologically, considering each according to its greatest impact on Social, Commercial, Political, Engineering, and Military history. Maps plus more than 200 elegant drawings, photographs and paintings as well as dozens of sidebars highlight the concise, engaging text.

The fifty railroads span history, from the first in public passenger travel (Wales, 1807) to Japan's speed-record breaking "Bullet." Exotic locales reflect the map of colonialism (Guyana to transport sugar, India to carry cotton and arms). Railroads moved troops (the Crimea, the American Civil War, the Boer War) and united vast lands (Canadian Pacific Railway, Trans-Siberian). They transported horror (Auschwitz Ker), saved the Railway Children, and went underground to cross the English Channel.

Fifty Railroads that Changed the Course of History features rail barons, politicians, disasters, crime, weather, geology, great artists, fraudsters and animals, a dynamic cast of characters and a mind-spinning whirlwind of fact, trivia and conversation starters.


Author Notes

Bill Laws is a journalist and writer. He is the author of Fifty Animals That Changed the Course of History , as well as numerous titles on philosophy and history. He lives in the UK, where he is conducting doctoral research in sociology at South Bank University, London.


Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Railroads were the Internet of the nineteenth century, providing people with fast and convenient communication (and transportation!) between formerly disconnected places. From the Stockton and Darlington Railway to the Channel Tunnel, advances in railway engineering have tended to mirror larger changes in society as a whole. Author Laws has selected 50 railroads and presents brief (2-8 pages) histories that highlight the importance of each one. Coverage is international, with entries from every continent where railroads have been established. Entries are arranged in chronological order, ranging from 1804 to 2007. Some entries may be obvious (transcontinental railroads in the U.S. and Canada, high-speed rail in Japan); and some are more obscure (the ­Jerusalem to Jaffa Railway or the Semmering Railway in Austria). Although most railroads were chosen for inclusion based on advances in engineering and transportation, a few were selected because of their social impact (Southern Railway's influence on popular music, the Burma to Siam Railway as the model for the film Bridge over the River Kwai, Dutch Railways as they related to strikes and labor unrest, and the sobering impact of the rail spur leading to Auschwitz). Dates selected to represent entries are not always clear, such as the Channel Tunnel being listed in 2007, rather than its opening in 1994. Despite a few such oddities, this book will be popular with rail fans and history buffs, all of whom will argue the inclusion or exclusion of their own particular favorite railroads. This is a good choice for the circulating shelves of most public libraries.--Tyckoson, David Copyright 2010 Booklist


Excerpts

Excerpts

Introduction "When I closed my eyes this sensation of flying was quite delightful, and strange beyond description: yet strange as it was, I had a perfect sense of security, and not the slightest fear." Actress and writer Fanny Kemble, opening of the Liverpool to Manchester railroad, 1838 Railroads have impacted on the lives of almost everyone on the planet. Since they arrived in the early 1800s, their steely sinews have threaded their way through history, nudging and elbowing it in unexpected directions. Changing Landscapes and Passenger Travel Railroads modernized the towns they touched and caused the downfall of the ones they left behind: they carried cargo into the most inaccessible places and transformed forever the traditional ways of life there. Trains brought a distinctive cacophony to the urban scene: station bells, bursts of steam, the scream of a whistle, carriage couplings clattering in rail yards, and the ring of the wheel-tapper's hammer checking for cracked steel. The British monarch Queen Victoria was perfectly satisfied with this progress. On her first railroad journey, 18 miles (29 km) along the GWR or Great Western Railway to Buckingham Palace in 1842, she declared: "We arrived here yesterday morning, having come by the railroad from Windsor, in half an hour, free from dust and crowd and heat, and I am quite charmed with it." The Duke of Wellington, reflecting the sentiments of many of The Queen's citizens, had taken the opposite view. In 1830 he declared he saw "no reason to suppose these machines will ever force themselves into general use." While the railroads increased and multiplied, the anxieties of passengers remained much the same: Have I missed the train? Am I on the right platform? Is my luggage safe? Railroads undoubtably imposed themselves on the landscape. "There was probably more picturesqueness about the old method of traveling, for a stage coach harmonized better with the landscape than a puffing, smoking steam engine with its train of practical looking cars," wrote the regretful R. Richardson B.A. in Cassell's Family Magazine of 1875. He nevertheless acknowledged: "What we have lost in picturesqueness we have undoubtedly gained in convenience." Making Tracks Across the Globe With their speeding locomotives, luxury carriages and romantic boat trains, the railroads reached a zenith in the early twentieth century using the latest technology. Although the essential elements--train, tracks and rolling stock--were standard, idiosyncratic national characteristics were apparent from the start. The dominance of the railroad was complete, paving the way across the world with its routes and adopting country-specific structures, while two world wars battled on. By the mid-twentieth century railroads were exhausted. Polluting, inefficient, uncomfortable, monopolistic and expensive, they had run out of favor. Their demise was accompanied, and exacerbated, by the rush for the road, a development that squandered dwindling natural resources and left a bill for everyone but the polluter to pay. Then in 1964 a streamlined train slid, like a vision from the future, into Tokyo station. Within a decade high-speed railroads and rapid transit systems were racing to change history again, leaving in their wake a charm of pleasant old lines and railroad memories. As railroad engineer George Stephenson's biographer Samuel Smiles put it in 1868: "Notwithstanding all the faults and imperfections that are alleged against railroads ... we think they must nevertheless be recognized as by far the most valuable means of communication ... that has yet been given to the world." Excerpted from Fifty Railroads That Changed the Course of History by Bill Laws All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 6
Merthyr Tydfil Railwayp. 8
Swansea and Mumbles Railwayp. 14
Stockton and Darlington Railwayp. 18
Liverpool and Manchester Railwayp. 22
Baltimore and Ohio Railroadp. 28
South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Companyp. 32
Dublin and Kingstown Railwayp. 36
Brussels to Mechelen Railwayp. 40
Nuremberg and Fürth Railwayp. 42
Paris to Le Pecq Railwayp. 46
Grand Junction and London to Birmingham Railwaysp. 48
Tsarskoye Selo Railwayp. 52
Ferrocarril de Camagüey a Nuevitasp. 54
York and North Midland Railwayp. 56
Great Western Railwayp. 60
Leicester and Loughborough Railwayp. 66
Sheffield, Ashton under Lyne and Manchester Railwayp. 72
Paris to Le Havre Railwayp. 76
Georgetown and Plaisance Railroadp. 82
Great Indian Peninsula Railwayp. 84
Semmering Railwayp. 90
Panama Railroadp. 92
Grand Crimean Central Railwayp. 94
Chicago to St. Louis Railroadp. 100
Hannibal to St. Joseph Railroadp. 106
Metropolitan Railwayp. 112
Central Pacific Railroadp. 118
Port Chalmers Railwayp. 126
Canadian Pacific Railwayp. 128
Jerusalem to Jaffa Railwayp. 136
Highland Railwayp. 138
Valtellina Railroadp. 144
Cape to Cairo Railwayp. 148
Jingzhang Railwayp. 154
Grand Central Terminalp. 158
Trans-Siberian Railwayp. 164
Allied Railroad Supply Linesp. 168
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railwayp. 174
Sydney City Railwayp. 176
Berlin to Hamburg Railwayp. 182
Prague to Liverpool Street Station, Londonp. 186
Southern Railwayp. 190
Auschwitz Spinp. 194
Burma to Siam Railwayp. 196
Dutch Railwaysp. 198
Tokaido Railwayp. 202
Bay Area Rapid Transitp. 204
Talyllyn Railwayp. 210
Paris to Lyon Railwayp. 212
Channel Tunnelp. 216
Further Readingp. 218
Indexp. 220
Image Creditsp. 224