When railroads changed the world — looking for stories

Posted by Steve Sweeney
on Tuesday, September 29, 2020

We know railroads have changed the course of history.

From making frequent, long-distance travel practical and affordable to lowering the transportation costs of heavy or distant goods, railroads have done their bit.

Away from obvious, well-documented stories such as those about the Transcontinental Railroad and New York's legendary subway system, are quips and tales, anecdotes on the edges of memory — all-true — of when railroads made THE difference.

But unfortunately, these stories are lesser known. And a few may only be known by the people who were there to witness an event first hand.

I'd like to start learning more about these incredible rail tales so we at Trains can explore them and possibly write about them in the future, here on our website.

Here's one great example, if you've heard about it: Mother Teresa (yes, THAT Mother Teresa) was inspired to further help India's poor while riding a train.

Another story, unconfirmed, is about how two members of a commission charged with investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster rode the subway together and helped uncover the Challenger's launch day o-ring failure because of their relationship. 

So, does your town historian remark at least once a year about the time the train brought the right goods (medicine, food, water, fuel) during a crisis? Did a toy train ever inspire great achievements or innovations or serve as a dastardly working model for something sinister? Do you know of a passenger train schedule quirk that kept a disaster from happening — or of a train that saved countless lives?

I'm looking for those stories and their cousins.

Can you help me find them by posting about them in the comments below?

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