150 Years of North American Railroads

Railroads in the USA have now been around for 150 years. Today the online magazine "Wired" published a nice article commemorating this event. 

I am happy to report that the freight railroads in this country are still going strong and getting even better. Last year the North American railroad companies invested over $20 billion in their infrastructure and rolling stock. Keep in mind that this money came out of the railroads profits and not from the taxpayers. 

Unfortunately the picture regarding passenger trains is not as rosy. Admittedly there are a few bright spots in this country, witness my blog about SoCal's Metrolink. Generally however the political thinking about passenger rail transport in this country can only be called antideluvian. The whole debate about the costs, profitability and desirability of passenger trains in the US is intellectually dishonest. 

In any event here is the article from "Wired" magazine.


The first US steam engine "Tom Thumb" built in 1830 for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum Photo)


The "Jupiter". Typical "American" 4-4-0 wheel arrangement. The original Jupiter engine was present at the "Golden Spike" ceremony in 1869 celebrating the completion of the transcontinental railroad.        

(Photo by Golden Spike National Park)




Probably the zenith of American steam locomotive technology: a Union Pacific "Big Boy", wheel arrangement 4-8-8-4, built in 1941                      

(Photo by Steam Town National Park) 




Modern American railroading: A BNSF ES44DC Diesel Electric Locomotive (BNSF Photo)


Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad AC4400CW Diesel Electric Locomotive