Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On Track

Used to be, a train could take you anywhere in the US you wanted to be. From Boston down to Washington DC and over to Chicago, you had everyone from big shots to hobos hopping on the line. There was even a rush to make that train go all the way across this great, big country, from coast to coast. Forgotten in the modern age, Abraham Lincoln's greatest achievement at the time (1862) was signing into law the Pacific Railway Act which government-sponsored two railway lines - Union Pacific and Central Pacific - to connect the Eastern United States to California. Lincoln never saw this great vision come to fruition since the famous "golden spike" was driven into the tracks after his death, in 1869 (May 10 in Promontory Summit, Utah, to be exact). Regardless. it brought the railroads to great prominence and drove the Pony Express and the stagecoach into the relics of history.

Now it is the railroad that has nearly been driven into the relics of history (thank you planes and automobiles!), but I am having none of that on my ride in the Amtrak up to New York City. Having a chance to sit back and listen to the great whistle blow as we bluster down the tracks past Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey landscape, I wonder what it used to be like. I cannot think too long, though, because I have work to do - the whole reason I'm sitting on the train to begin with. I guess I'll get back on track and out of my railroad daydream.
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