By Mike Ryan, OCJ Field Reporter
It is hard to overstate the enormous importance of the locomotive in the development of the American nation. Ever since the steam locomotive noisily announced its presence on the scene in the second half of the nineteenth century, the “steel highway” has played an integral role in United States economic, social, and industrial life.
Observing the advent of this modern marvel, American naturalist John Muir rightly observed that the locomotive “annihilated” time and space, creating an extreme increase in the speed of travel and commerce. A symbol of American industry, it fueled the Industrial Revolution and facilitated business and trade on a vast national scale. The railroads altered physical landscapes and stimulated urban development and contributed to the affordability of travel. The train was transformative; it inspired a new spirit and vigor in American society, as 19th century essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson noted when he said, “Railroad iron is a magician’s rod, in its power to evoke the sleeping energies of land and water.” … Continue readingRead More »