Railroad history and engineering Archives

July 30, 2007

The Steel Tubular Car Company, by J. W. Post (1887)

Early written railroad history is rife with graphic accounts of train wrecks and the excruciating detail of their resulting human carnage. In this 1887 stock prospectus for the Steel Tubular Car Company, J.W. Post uses similar accounting to convince prospective investors that “the sickening loss of human life, the maiming and roasting of helpless victims” would not have occurred had his indestructible steel tubular cars been on the tracks instead. The steel tubes (seen in the cross section of the parlor car pictured below) prevented the telescoping of cars during a crash, and by throwing the emergency breaks “passengers themselves can prevent the car from plunging over an embankment.” Other safety features included a separate heater car and a “fortress” car for transporting valuable materials that could resist “shots from either rifles or revolvers in the hands of train robbers or other desperadoes.” According to WorldCat, UIUC Library is the only recorded holder of this 1887 publication, now brought to any web browser near you! View the Flip Book.


September 9, 2007

A history of travel in America, being an outline of the development in modes of travel from archaic vehicles of colonial times to the completion of the first transcontinental railroad... (1915)
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While contemporary reviewers of Seymour Dunbar's four volume history of transportation in early America criticized his anecdotal narrative and limited understanding of the relationship of transportation to the United States' economic development, all credit him nonetheless for bringing together 400 early drawings, illustrations, and engravings on the subject. From the canoes of the early native Americans through stage-coaches and steamboats to the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the pictorial offerings in Dunbar's work contain many not found elsewhere.


October 7, 2007

Illinois central employees' magazine 1914-1924
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You don't have to be a railroad buff to find yourself spending hours paging through UIUC's recently digitized volumes of the Illinois Central Employees' Magazine for the years 1914-1924, which by the way, average 1500 pages each. Its profusely illustrated pages offer a fascinating cultural history of the railroad in American life and the place of the Illinois Central Railroad in the family life of its employees. Each issue featured an extensive article on a town along the ICR route, a column for homemakers, a column on railroad humor, and advice for employees on financial planning. Interwoven with these articles of parochial interest are features on railroad engineering, legal issues (train accidents abounded in the early days!), industries that relied heavily on the railroad, and politics. You can even read about General John "Black Jack" Pershing's visit to Urbana in 1922! A treasure trove of information for genealogists!


About Railroad history and engineering

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Digitized Book of the Week in the Railroad history and engineering category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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