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Early Trains and Steam Engines

by Barbara Olivier

In family history and researching did you ever wonder how your ancestors got from place to place on long journeys after peak farming seasons and survived the cold and other weather conditions? They could take months and travel by wagon trains or down rivers in boats or perhaps they went by trains especially in late 1800's and early 1900's.

Trains were the fastest and safest way to travel.

We ask many questions about our ancestors. We wonder how they survived and how they could just pick up and leave all their belongings for most part and start all over at a new location.

They were allowed a ration of food and clothes and other items which was a change of clothes and slab of cured bacon, sugar in form of molasses, corn, dried bean, fruit and other stable items.

A few livestock and food and water for their use along the trails by wagon trains.

During a recent research trip to Paducah, Ky for a grandfather Jacob A. Numer, we discovered an old ICC steam engine display on the Ohio River banks.

Grandfather Jacob Adam Numer was a conductor for ICC Railroad and had retired there in 1934. We also found he was a Mason and his wife Maggie Adams Numer was Eastern Star member.

The old ICC engine was so fascinating and being one like or the one of which grandfather was the conductor made us want to know more. To get the feel of what it must have been like as a conductor, and being the grandson of Jacob Numer, he climbed aboard in the drivers' seat and had his photo taken, as you will see.

A little history

Early as the 16th century, early mining used horses to pull goods by railways along wooden rails.

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad built the earliest and first steam railroad locomotives in the world in 1830. A system of transportation consisting of steel rails, called tracks, on which freight cars, passenger cars, and other rolling stock are drawn by one or more powered LOCOMOTIVES

But the modern railroad began with the steam locomotives pioneered by the Englishmen Richard Trevithick and George STEPHENSON in the early 1800s.

Stockton and Darlington Railway in England in 1825 pioneered the first passenger service

Wood or coal, with a rod-and-piston arrangement to move the drive wheels fueled STEAM ENGINES.

When water is boiled into steam its volume increases about 1,600 times, producing a force that can be used to move a piston back and forth in a cylinder for power.

Many short-run railroads began to appear in the U.S. in the 1840s. Early improvements in railroading included sleeping cars, patented (1856) by G.M. Pullman

The first all-steel car (1859); and the use of steel rather than wrought iron rails (by 1863). U.S. railroad building reached a historic climax with the completion of the first transcontinental railway.

Electric locomotives introduced c. 1895, obtained their power from an electric trolley, running on an overhead wire.

American railroads today are powered by diesel-electric locomotives (introduced c.1924). These use a DIESEL ENGINE to drive an electric generator, which feeds electric motors that turn the driving wheels. Gas turbine-electric locomotives are similar to the diesel-electric but use a gas TURBINE to drive the generator.

After World War II railroad companies claimed annual deficits in passenger service

Penn Central filed for bankruptcy in 1970 and Congress acted to create Amtrak, and in 1976 the federal government set up the ConRail system, but in the 1990s there was movement toward privatization and reduction of subsidies in several W European countries. High-speed passenger trains, such as the bullet and TGV trains, have been developed in Japan, France, and Germany.

Today we know of the MONORAIL in USA and we wonder what grandpa would think of this new means of transportation and other modern travel?

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