Railroads

One of the leading authorities on transportation history has just published a book you do not want to miss. It is Blood, Iron, & Gold: How the Railroads Transformed the World. It is by Christian Wolmar who has previously written several books on the social history of railways and transportation. He begins his survey of railway history with the development of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830. Then he proceeds to take us around the world and details the absolutely breathtaking scale of development of railroads in every major country and the concomitant improvement in economic and social life that went with it. He reminds us of the military uses of the railroads in the Civil War particularly when General Grant used the Baltimore & Ohio (and other lines) to rush reinforcements to his army which enabled him to take Chatanooga, Tennessee. One of the groups who observed this military use was a Prussian delegation. They subsequently put this knowledge to good use to overwhelm Austria and France in wars in 1866 and 1870 respectively. This book is a reminder that we should look to the railroads of today as a solution to our current transportation woes.

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