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Poster showing railroads through history in the West

Key to Poster
Artist's rendering of Gandy Dancers
Gandy Dancers: As railroads were built, the ringing of hammers on spikes created a symphony of sound. Using Gandy Manufacturing Company tools, construction workers coordinated their dangerous work so smoothly that to observers it seemed like a dance.
Artist's rendering of Surveyors with Native American
Surveyors: Before railroads could be built, the best and least costly routes had to be determined. Surveyors were the pathfinders whose tools have evolved from the relatively simple solar compass and stadia rods of the nineteenth century to the laser transits and global positioning satellites of today.
Artist's rendering of a Handcar
Handcar: This simple machine, which operates on the principle of the lever, enables railroad inspection and maintenance crews to move short distances along rail lines easily and inexpensively.
Artist's rendering of 1831 Train
1831 Train: In the 1830s, America's first trains ran on iron-surfaced wooden rails. Passengers rode on modified highway stagecoaches and were subject to showers of sparks, while locomotive crews had no protection from the elements.
Artist's rendering of locomotive given the name Jupiter
Jupiter: In the early days of railroading, locomotives were given fanciful names and were often quite colorful. The balloon stack on this mid-nineteenth century wood-burning locomotive contained sets of baffles or screens that trapped sparks that could set grass or trees on fire.
Artist's rendering of RPG 7, a consolidation-type locomotive
RPG 7: This consolidation-type locomotive served as the typical passenger and freight locomotive of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Artist's rendering of combination passenger and freight train known as the Galloping Goose because of the sound of its horn
Goose: During the 1930s, railroads suffered severe economic losses due to declining passenger and freight traffic. One line, the Rio Grande Southern, adjusted to this decline by combining an automotive body with a baggage compartment to carry both passengers and freight. These colorful and unique machines were nicknamed "Galloping Geese" because of the sound of their air horns.
Artist's rendering of more streamlined locomotive known as the Bullet
Bullet: During the 1930s and 1940s, railroad owners tried to present a progressive image and improve locomotive efficiency. A streamlined design presented a more modern appearance and decreased friction.
Artist's rendering of the "Shay," named after its inventor, which was able to operate in rugged country
Shay: Railroads that were used to harvest timber required special locomotives to operate in rugged country over rough tracks. One such locomotive was called a "shay," after its inventor Ephraim Shay. Each set of trucks, which contained the driving wheels, could swivel independently of the other, and each was directly linked by gears to the power transmission line shown along the side for maximum pulling power.
Artist's rendering of electric-powered locomotive
Electric: Electricity held much promise as an efficient, clean, and inexpensive power source for locomotives. Rather than carry their own fuel supplies, these locomotives could draw power from outside sources, such as the overhead wires shown. High initial costs incurred in constructing such lines limited their wider development.
Artist's rendering of the F-9, a diesel-electric engine
F9: In the 1930s, diesel- electric engines such as this were among the revolutions in railroad technology. By reducing operating and maintenance costs, and by making more power economically available to move heavier trains, they spelled doom for the steam locomotive.
Artist's rendering of an engine on a turntable
Engine on Turntable: Powerful engines like that pictured here form the backbone of today's railroads. Steam engines and early diesels could only operate safely in one direction and had to be turned on a rotating table like the one shown.
Artist's rendering of a modern passenger car
Passenger Car: A typical passenger car of today.
Artist's rendering of the Maglev, a possible train of the future
Maglev: Like their pioneering forefathers, tomorrow's railroaders will explore new applications of science and technology for moving trains faster, more safely, and more efficiently. Experimental trains like the Maglev will reach speeds in excess of 500 km/h, take up less land space, and reduce pollution by moving railroads away from hydrocarbon-based fuels.

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Last updated: 11-13-2009