Items tagged Railroads (39 total)

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A passage from Matthew Josephson's The Robber Barons outlines the often unsavory history of the railroad industry in America. As Josephson tells it, the history of the railroads traced a trajectory of corruption, scandal, popular outrage, largely failed attempts at legislation and regulation, and finally accommodation as the railroad barons became…

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Item Type: Book (excerpt)
Date: 1934

From the 1860s to the 1880s, thousands of Chinese immigrants found work in railroad construction in the West, notably on the Central Pacific line of the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was built primarily by Chinese. The extreme danger of this work is suggested by this excerpt from Chinese American Voices, in which a railroad worker recalls…

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Item Type: Book (excerpt)
Date: 1926

Walt Whitman ardently depicted scenes and objects of modernity in the mid 19th century, seeing beauty in the power and invention of the machine age. This set him apart from a slightly earlier generation of artists, poets, and writers like Henry David Thoreau or William Wordsworth who decried the onset of industrialization and romanticized "the…

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Item Type: Fiction/Poetry
Date: 1881

In 1894, the American Railway Union organized a national boycott and strike against all trains hauling Pullman Cars in response to a strike called by workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company. The strike spread across the nation. Strikers were met with the full force of company and government might. Thirty-four people were killed in two weeks of…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1894

This cartoon from the May 29, 1869 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper celebrates the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad linking the eastern and western halves of the United States, but its caption also hints at the hope for a deeper reconciliation. For a country just beginning to heal from the division of the Civil War, the…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1869

Red Cloud, an Oglala Lakota chief, led a two year war against white settlers and railroad outposts between 1866 and 1868. Red Cloud's War, sometimes called the Powder River War, took place in parts of the Wyoming and Montana territories that were the traditional homelands of Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples. Spotted Tail, who refrained from…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1867

The "divide-and-conquer" tactics used by bosses pitted different ethnic groups against one another and native-born workers against all immigrants. It often worked out better for white workers than for Asians. Charles Crocker, one of the "Big Four" titans of Northern California industry and railroads (and chief magnate of the Pacific Union…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: Circa 1876

The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad is celebrated with a handshake, a bottle of champagne, and the laying of a golden railroad spike in Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10th, 1869. After years of speculation, government backing, corporate scandal, and arduous physical labor, the Union Pacific line met the Southern Pacific, linking the…

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Item Type: Photograph
Date: 1869

These verses memorialize Annie Lillie, a 16-year-old victim of the North Pennsylvania Railroad disaster, known as "The Great Train Wreck of 1856." The worst railroad accident in history up to that time, the disaster occurred when two trains collided head-on, killing approximately 60 people, many of them Sunday school children on a picnic excursion.…

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Item Type: Music/Song
Date: Circa 1856

The optimism and hope of "The Age of Progress" is expressed in these song lyrics published in 1860 by H. De Marsan. In typically grandiloquent Victorian style, the author extols recent technological advancements, including the Pacific Railroad and the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable, under construction at the time of the song's composition and…

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Item Type: Music/Song
Date: 1860