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European Capital, British Iron, and an American Dream

The Story of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad

By William Reynolds

The Atlantic & Great Western Railroad was one of the earliest and largest east-west railroad projects in the United States. It was the dream of American builders William Reynolds of Pennsylvania and Marvin Kent of Ohio. By using the non-standard six-foot gauge, these men helped construct a trunk line connecting the Atlantic tidewater with the Mississippi River "without break of gauge." Money for the construction came principally from European investors, like Don Jose de Salamanca of Spain, while Great Britain furnished the iron. A strong English support group included James McHenry, Sir Samuel Morton Peto, and the brilliant engineer, Thomas Kennard. This American-European enterprise represented a unique example of intercontinental cooperation in railroad history. Reynolds was the first president of the Pennsylvania and New York divisions of the A&GW. This published history is the first published source on this important railroad. With a memorable talent for detail and authority, Reynolds demonstrates how difficult it was to build a railroad against a backdrop of the Civil War. The lack of capital and resources, the scarcity of labor, the control of the oil market, and the endless struggle against hostile public opinion and fierce competitors like the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central posed challenges that were not easily overcome. Yet, as Reynolds states, "in the face of all these formidable obstacles, the enterprise was crowned with success."

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Evolution of the American Diesel Locomotive

J. Parker Lamb

The diesel locomotive sent shock waves through rigid corporate cultures and staid government regulators. For some, the new technology promised to be a source of enormous profits; for others, the railroad industry seemed a threat to their very livelihoods. Evolution of the American Diesel Locomotive introduces the reader to the important technological advances that gave rise to diesel engines, examining not only their impact on locomotive design, but also their impact on the economic and social landscapes. J. Parker Lamb describes the development of these technologies, allowing the reader to fully understand how they were integrated and formed a commercially successful locomotive. Like its companion volume, Perfecting the American Steam Locomotive (IUP, 2003), this book emphasizes the role of the leading engineers whose innovations paved the way for critical breakthroughs. Rail fans will appreciate this authoritative work.

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Expanding the Envelope

Flight Research at NACA and NASA

Michael H. Gorn

Expanding the Envelope is the first book to explore the full panorama of flight research history, from the earliest attempts by such nineteenth century practitioners as England's Sir George Cayley, who tested his kites and gliders by subjecting them to experimental flight, to the cutting-edge aeronautical research conducted by the NACA and NASA.

Michael H. Gorn explores the vital human aspect of the history of flight research, including such well-known figures as James H. Doolittle, Chuck Yeager, and A. Scott Crossfield, as well as the less heralded engineers, pilots, and scientists who also had the "Right Stuff." While the individuals in the cockpit often receive the lion's share of the public's attention, Expanding the Envelope shows flight research to be a collaborative engineering activity, one in which the pilot participates as just one of many team members.

Here is more than a century of flight research, from well before the creation of NACA to its rapid transformation under NASA. Gorn gives a behind the scenes look at the development of groundbreaking vehicles such as the X-1, the D-558, and the X-15, which demonstrated manned flight at speeds up to Mach 6.7 and as high as the edge of space.

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Flying the Beam

Navigating the Early US Airmail Airways, 1917–1941

by Henry R. Lehrer

With air travel a regular part of daily life in North America, we tend to take the infrastructure that makes it possible for granted. However, the systems, regulations, and technologies of civil aviation are in fact the product of decades of experimentation and political negotiation, much of it connected to the development of the airmail as the first commercially sustainable use of airplanes. From the lighted airways of the 1920s through the radio navigation system in place by the time of World War II, this book explores the conceptualization and ultimate construction of the initial US airways systems. The daring exploits of the earliest airmail pilots are well documented, but the underlying story of just how brick-and-mortar construction, radio research and improvement, chart and map preparation, and other less glamorous aspects of aviation contributed to the system we have today has been understudied. Flying the Beam traces the development of aeronautical navigation of the US airmail airways from 1917 to 1941. Chronologically organized, the book draws on period documents, pilot memoirs, and firsthand investigation of surviving material remains in the landscape to trace the development of the system. The author shows how visual cross-country navigation, only possible in good weather, was developed into all-weather “blind flying.” The daytime techniques of “following railroads and rivers” were supplemented by a series of lighted beacons (later replaced by radio towers) crisscrossing the country to allow nighttime transit of long-distance routes, such as the one between New York and San Francisco. Although today’s airway system extends far beyond the continental US and is based on digital technologies, the way pilots navigate from place to place basically uses the same infrastructure and procedures that were pioneered almost a century earlier. While navigational electronics have changed greatly over the years, actually “flying the beam” has changed very little.

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Forging the “Bee Line” Railroad, 1848–1889

The Rise and Fall of Hoosier Partisans and the Cleveland Clique

In the 1830s, as the Trans Appalachian economy began to stir and Europe’s Industrial Revolution reached its peak, concerned Midwesterners saw opportunities and risks. Success of the Erie Canal as a link to East Coast economic markets whetted the appetites of visionaries and entrepreneurs, who saw huge opportunities. Amid this perfect storm of technology, enterprise, finance, location, and timing arose some of the earliest railroads in the Midwest.

By the late 1840s three such vision-driven railroad ventures had sprung to life. Two small railroads carrying goods to Midwestern markets—the Indianapolis & Bellefontaine in Indiana and the Bellefontaine & Indiana in Ohio—spawned early enthusiasm, but few citizens would look beyond the horizon. It was the admonition of Oliver H. Smith, founder of the Indiana line, who challenged the populace to look farther: “to decide whether the immense travel and business of the west should pass round or go through central Indiana.”

Soon, the two local lines would crystallize in the minds of people as the “Bee Line.” In Cleveland, meanwhile, a clique of committed businessmen, bankers, and politicians came together to finance the most prosperous of all early Midwestern railroads, extending from Cleveland to Columbus. Their aspirations expanded to control the larger Midwestern market from Cleveland to St. Louis. First by loans and then by bond purchases, they quickly took over the “Bee Line.”

Hoosier partisans’ independence, however, could not be easily brushed aside. Time and again they would frustrate the attempts of the Cleveland clique, exercising a degree of autonomy inconsistent with their dependent financial underpinnings. Ultimately, they acquiesced to the reality of their situation. After the Civil War, even the group from Cleveland fell victim to unscrupulous foreign and national financiers and manipulators who had taken their places on the boards of larger trunk lines expanding throughout the Midwest.

Exhaustively researched and meticulously documented, Forging the “Bee Line” Railroad, 1848–1889 is the first comprehensive scholarly work on this most important of early Midwestern railroads.

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Forty Years Master

A Life in Sail and Steam

Daniel O. Killman

During Daniel O. Killman’s more than fifty years at sea, he was shipwrecked off Coos Bay, discovered gold in Alaska, was dismasted in a hurricane near Fiji, lost a rudder en route to Adelaide, had run-ins with bureaucrats, officials, and seamen, and found himself in court facing charges of murder, all the while remaining in impeccable standing with the owners of his vessels. His thrilling life at sea during the last decades of sailing ships and the emergence of steam vessels in the Pacific is chronicled in Forty Years Master: A Life in Sail and Steam.

Edited and annotated nearly forty years after Killman’s death by prominent Pacific Coast maritime historians John Lyman and Harold D. Huycke Jr., Killman’s memoir has been compiled by Rebecca Huycke Ellison from her father’s papers. Now with an introduction by maritime scholar Brian J. Rouleau and an afterword by David Hull, Killman’s rollicking narrative of storms, surly mates, bustling ports, and the business of navigating the high seas will entertain and inform scholars, students, and general readers interested in nautical and maritime history, late nineteenth–early twentieth century trade and commerce, and West Coast/trans-Pacific maritime history.

 

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From a Nickel to a Token

The Journey from Board of Transportation to MTA

Andrew J. Sparberg

Streetcars “are as dead as sailing ships,” said Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in a radio speech, two days before Madison Avenue’s streetcars yielded to buses. LaGuardia was determined eliminate streetcars, demolish pre-1900 elevated lines, and unify the subway system, which became reality in 1940 when the separate IRT, BMT, and IND became one giant system under full public control._x000B__x000B_In this fascinating micro-history of New York’s transit system, author Andrew Sparberg examines twenty specific events between 1940 and 1968, bookended by subway unification and the MTA’s creation. From a Nickel to a Token depicts a potpourri of well-remembered, partially forgotten, and totally obscure happenings drawn from the historical tapestry of New York mass transit. Sparberg deftly captures five boroughs of grit, chaos, and emotion grappling with a massive and unwieldy transit system_x000B_ _x000B_During these decades, the system morphed into today’s network. The public sector absorbed most private surface lines operating within the five boroughs, and buses completely replaced streetcars. Elevated lines were demolished, replaced by subways or along Manhattan’s Third Avenue, not at all. Beyond the unification of the IND, IRT, and BMT, strategic track connections were built between lines to allow a more flexible and unified operation. The oldest subway routes received much-needed rehabilitation work. Thousands of new subway cars and buses were purchased. The sacred nickel fare barrier was broken, and by 1968 a ride cost twenty cents._x000B_ _x000B_From LaGuardia to Lindsay, mayors devoted much energy to solving transit problems, keeping fares low, and appeasing voters, fellow elected officials, transit managements, and labor leaders. Simultaneously, American society was experiencing tumultuous times, manifested by labor disputes, economic pressures, and civil rights protests._x000B__x000B_Featuring many photos never before published, From a Nickel to a Token is a historical trip back in time to a multitude of important events.

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Gateway to the Northern Plains

Railroads and the Birth of Fargo and Moorhead

Carroll Engelhardt

In the 1860s, land speculators in Minnesota and the Dakota Territory expected that a great city would rise where the railroad crossed the Red River of the North. In 1872, after the Northern Pacific Railroad laid its first tracks across the river, it brought settlers, capital, and access to Eastern markets and gave birth to the twin cities of Moorhead and Fargo.

 

Historian Carroll Engelhardt’s Gateway to the Northern Plains chronicles the story of Fargo and Moorhead’s birth and growth. Once just specks on the vast landscape of the Northern Plains, these twin cities prospered, teeming with their own dynamic culture, economy, and politics. Moorhead was the first, boosted by railroad manager Thomas Hawley Canfield, who touted it as superior to Fargo. Amid disputes and deals with entrepreneurs, the railroad company provided land for public schools and churches to speed the refinement of the settlement. Despite Moorhead’s earlier start, Northern Pacific Railway chose Fargo as its headquarters, and it became the “Gateway City” to North Dakota.

 

Development in the cities was not always harmonious. As the population increased, so did the pressure to conform to middle-class values. Residents joined together to create community churches and schools, clashing with migratory harvest workers, usually single men, who patronized saloons, brothels, and gambling dens. Outraged citizens worked to eliminate such antisocial behavior and establish moral order.

 

Though the dominant Twin Cities to the south limited Fargo and Moorhead’s size and success, settlers from far and wide poured in, creating a diverse population and vital culture. There are many histories of major U.S. cities, but in Gateway to the Northern Plains Engelhardt reveals how the small cities of the plains have made their mark on the country as well as on the reality—and the myth—of the American West.

 

Carroll Engelhardt is professor emeritus of history at Concordia College, Moorhead. He is the author of On Firm Foundation Grounded: The First Century of Concordia College (1891–1991).

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Grand Central's Engineer

William J. Wilgus and the Planning of Modern Manhattan

Kurt C. Schlichting

Few people have had as profound an impact on the history of New York City as William J. Wilgus. As chief engineer of the New York Central Railroad, Wilgus conceived the Grand Central Terminal, the city’s magnificent monument to America’s Railway Age. Kurt C. Schlichting here examines the remarkable career of this innovator, revealing how his tireless work moving people and goods over and under Manhattan Island’s surrounding waterways forever changed New York’s bustling transportation system. After his herculean efforts on behalf of Grand Central, the most complicated construction project in New York’s history, Wilgus turned to solving the city’s transportation quandary: Manhattan—the financial, commercial, and cultural hub of the United States in the twentieth century—was separated from the mainland by two major rivers to the west and east, a deep-water estuary to the south, and the Harlem River to the north. Wilgus believed that railroads and mass transportation provided the answer to New York City’s complicated geography. His ingenious ideas included a freight subway linking rail facilities in New Jersey with manufacturers and shippers in Manhattan, a freight and passenger tunnel connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn, and a belt railway interconnecting sixteen private railroads serving the metropolitan area. Schlichting’s deep passion for Wilgus and his engineering achievements are evident in the pages of this fascinating work. Wilgus was a true pioneer, and Schlichting ensures that his brilliant contributions to New York City’s transportation system will not be forgotten.

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Graveyard of the Lakes

Mark L. Thompson

For the first time, a historian and seasoned mariner looks beyond the specific circumstances of individual shipwrecks in an effort to reach a clearer understanding of the economic, political, and psychological factors that have influenced the 25,000 wrecks on the Great Lakes over the past 300 years. Looking at the entire tragic history of shipwrecks on North America's expansive inland seas, from the 1679 loss of the Griffon to the mysterious sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975, Mark L. Thompson concludes that a wreck is not an isolated event. In Graveyard of the Lakes, Thompson suggests that most of the accidents and deaths on the lakes have been the result of human error, ranging from simple mistakes to gross incompetence. In addition to his compelling analysis of the causes of shipwrecks, Thompson includes factual accounts of more than one hundred wrecks. Graveyard of the Lakes will forever change the reader's perspective on shipwrecks.

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