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14

Seems to be an apocryphal story. The first steam locomotive that transported passengers is thought to be the Puffing Devil, created by Cornish inventor Richard Trevithick. Its first demonstration was on Christmas Eve 1801, after being assembled in a Redruth blacksmith shop. The event became a passenger carrying exercise because bystanders jumped on to the ...


7

The kind of strike you are talking about is called work-to-rule, and is not limited to any single action in one country. Here's an article about a British teacher's union using the tactic in 2012. I first heard about it being used by aussies, but its Wikipedia entry implies (without any backup that I can see) that it is known to be a favored tactic in ...


7

The railroad certainly received its share of harassment. Livestock was continuously rustled by tribal raiders, who also boldly shot up work crews and terrorized isolated station towns. Particularly vulnerable were route surveyors, who struck out on their own ahead of the work crews -- and sometimes paid for it with their lives. Twice, Native Americans ...


7

There were absolutely labor crunches while building the transcontinental railroads--these roads were stretching across a vast, unpopulated (by European Americans, that is) and harsh terrain. Labor shortages were worst during the Civil War, for obvious reasons. However, I can't find evidence of any major delays in the railroads' construction. This is due in ...


6

I was surprised to find out that, yes there were troubles with labor shortages. From Public Broadcasting Station "American Experience" article on the "Workers of the Central Pacific Railroad", In early 1865 the Central Pacific had work enough for 4,000 men. Yet contractor Charles Crocker barely managed to hold onto 800 laborers at any given time. Most ...


5

The best candidate for protagonist in this story is probably William Murdoch, an employee of Boulton and Watt's who had an interest in using Watt's steam engine concepts for locomotion. What is well-documented is that in 1784 he built a working model in his living room (yes, household model trains are older than real trains!), and then probably another ...


3

As MichaelF pointed out, it is physically possible to travel across the US on a train - there are more than enough rail lines, though today they're all for freight. As for using Amtrak lines, for the most part Amtrak does not run on rail lines that it owns. The only track that Amtrak owns outright(as far as I remember) is the Northeast Corridor, between ...


2

Terminal train stations were built in continental Europe because many railroads connected only two cities in the early to mid 19th century. There were not many rail lines, and the stations built were terminal stations. As the railroad network increased, the terminal stations could not be converted to passthrough anymore.


2

The idea that the first steam engine powered locomotive was treated as such magic is ludicrous, the steam engine was invented in the first century AD, but first became commercially useful during the industrial revolution, with the Newcomen Atmospheric Engine, which was used to pump water out of mines (that's a problem when you dig bellow sea level!) which ...


2

Krauss (High Road to Promontory) notes that the Central Pacific had trouble keeping workers. Here's why: the railroad was being built through the mining regions of California (which was perfectly natural as the CP hoped to profit from shipping the ore). The CP would transport the workers from San Francisco up to the worksites. After a week of work, the ...



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