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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > History of Science and Technology > Transportation History

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November's Fury Cover

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November's Fury

The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913

Michael Schumacher

On Thursday, November 6, the Detroit News forecasted “moderate to brisk” winds for the Great Lakes. On Friday, the Port Huron Times-Herald predicted a “moderately severe” storm. Hourly the warnings became more and more dire. Weather forecasting was in its infancy, however, and radio communication was not much better; by the time it became clear that a freshwater hurricane of epic proportions was developing, the storm was well on its way to becoming the deadliest in Great Lakes maritime history.

The ultimate story of man versus nature, November’s Fury recounts the dramatic events that unfolded over those four days in 1913, as captains eager—or at times forced—to finish the season tried to outrun the massive storm that sank, stranded, or demolished dozens of boats and claimed the lives of more than 250 sailors. This is an account of incredible seamanship under impossible conditions, of inexplicable blunders, heroic rescue efforts, and the sad aftermath of recovering bodies washed ashore and paying tribute to those lost at sea. It is a tragedy made all the more real by the voices of men—now long deceased—who sailed through and survived the storm, and by a remarkable array of photographs documenting the phenomenal damage this not-so-perfect storm wreaked.

The consummate storyteller of Great Lakes lore, Michael Schumacher at long last brings this violent storm to terrifying life, from its first stirrings through its slow-mounting destructive fury to its profound aftereffects, many still felt to this day.

On Railways Far Away Cover

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On Railways Far Away

William D. Middleton

In this lavishly illustrated memoir, William D. Middleton invites readers to climb aboard and share with him 60 years of railroad tourism around the globe. Middleton's award-winning photography has recorded events such as the final days of American Civil War locomotives in Morocco and the start up of the world's first high-speed railway in Japan. He has photographed such great civil works as Scotland's Firth of Forth Bridge and the splendid railway station at Haydarpasa on the Asian side of the Bosporus, while closer to home he has been recognized for his significant contribution to the photographic interpretation of North America's railroading history. On Railways Far Away presents over 200 of Middleton's favorite photographs and the personal stories behind the images. It is a book that will delight both armchair travelers and those for whom the railroads still hold romance.

Rail and the City Cover

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Rail and the City

Shrinking Our Carbon Footprint While Reimagining Urban Space

Roxanne Warren

The United States has evolved into a nation of twenty densely populated megaregions. Yet despite the environmental advantages of urban density, urban sprawl and reliance on the private car still set the pattern for most new development. Cars guzzle not only gas but also space, as massive acreage is dedicated to roadways and parking. Even more pressing, the replication of this pattern throughout the fast-developing world makes it doubtful that we will achieve the reductions in carbon emissions needed to avoid climate catastrophe. In Rail and the City, architect Roxanne Warren makes the case for compact urban development that is supported by rail transit. Calling the automobile a relic of the twentieth century, Warren envisions a release from the tyrannies of traffic congestion, petroleum dependence, and an oppressively paved environment. Technical features of rail are key to its high capacities, safety at high speeds, and compactness -- uniquely qualifying it to serve as ideal infrastructure within and between cities. Ultimately, mobility could be achieved through extensive networks of public transit, particularly rail, supplemented by buses, cycling, walking, car-sharing, and small, flexible vehicles. High-speed rail, fed by local transit, could eliminate the need for petroleum-intensive plane trips of less than 500 miles.Warren considers issues of access to transit, citing examples from Europe, Japan, and North America, and pedestrian- and transit-oriented urban design. Rail transit, she argues, is the essential infrastructure for a fluidly functioning urban society.

Railroad Empire across the Heartland Cover

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Railroad Empire across the Heartland

Rephotographing Alexander Gardner's Westward Journey

James E. Sherow

Best known for his Civil War photographs, Alexander Gardner also documented the construction of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division (later the Kansas Pacific Railroad), across Kansas beginning in 1867. This book presents recent photographs by John R. Charlton of the scenes Gardner recorded, paired with the Gardner originals and accompanied by James E. Sherow’s discussion. Like most rephotography projects, this one provides fascinating information about the changes in the landscape over the last century and a half.

The book presents ninety pairs of Gardner’s and Charlton’s photographs. In all of Charlton’s photos he duplicates the exact location and time of day of the Gardner originals. Sherow uses the paired images to show how Indian and Anglo-American land-use practices affected the landscape. As the Union Pacific claimed, the railroad created an American empire in the region, and Charlton’s rephotography captures the transformation of the grasslands, harnessed by the powerful social and economic forces of the railroad.

Railroad Noir Cover

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Railroad Noir

The American West at the End of the Twentieth Century

Narratives by Linda Grant Niemann. Photographs by Joel Jensen

Culled from the 20 years she spent traveling the American West as a freight brakeman and conductor, Linda Grant Niemann's Railroad Noir delves into the darker side of railroading. The 1990s were a time of crisis for workers caught in the breakup of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Niemann's tales of exhaustion, alcoholism, homelessness, and corporate blundering present a revelatory account of railroading life. Photographer Joel Jensen realizes Niemann's vision of the working West with images of cowboy bars, blue motels, and railroaders working in electrical storms, white-outs, and desert heat waves. The result is an honest, gritty, and striking collaboration.

The Railroad That Never Was Cover

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The Railroad That Never Was

Vanderbilt, Morgan, and the South Pennsylvania Railroad

Herbert H. Harwood, Jr.

Herbert H. Harwood, Jr., tells the story of one of the most infamous railroad construction projects of the late 19th century. This 200-mile line through Pennsylvania's most challenging mountain terrain was intended to form the heart of a new trunk line from the East Coast to Pittsburgh and the Midwest. Conceived in 1881 by William H. Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, and a group of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia industrialists, the South Pennsylvania Railroad was intended to break the Pennsylvania Railroad's near-monopoly in the region. The line was within a year of opening when J. P. Morgan brokered a peace treaty that aborted the project and helped bolster his position in the world of finance. The railroad right of way and its tunnels sat idle for 60 years before coming to life in the late 1930s as the original section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Based on original letters, documents, diaries, and newspaper reports, The Railroad That Never Was uncovers the truth behind this mysterious railway.

Railroads and the American People Cover

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Railroads and the American People

H. Roger Grant

In this social history of the impact of railroads on American life, H. Roger Grant concentrates on the railroad's "golden age," 1830-1930. To capture the essence of the nation's railroad experience, Grant explores four fundamental topics—trains and travel, train stations, railroads and community life, and the legacy of railroading in America—illustrating each topic with carefully chosen period illustrations. Grant recalls the lasting memories left by train travel, both of luxurious Pullman cars and the grit and grind of coal-powered locals. He discusses the important role railroads played for towns and cities across America, not only for the access they provided to distant places and distant markets but also for the depots that were a focus of community life. Finally, Grant reviews the lasting heritage of the railroads as it has been preserved in word, stone, paint, and memory. Railroads and the American People is a sparkling paean to American railroading by one of its finest historians.

Railroad's for Michigan Cover

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Railroad's for Michigan

Graydon M. Meints

Railroads in the Civil War Cover

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Railroads in the Civil War

The Impact of Management on Victory and Defeat

By the time of the Civil War, the railroads had advanced to allow the movement of large numbers of troops even though railways had not yet matured into a truly integrated transportation system. Gaps between lines, incompatible track gauges, and other vexing impediments remained in both the North and South. As John E. Clark explains in this compelling study, the skill with which Union and Confederate war leaders met those problems and utilized the rail system to its fullest potential was an essential ingredient for ultimate victory.

Railroads in the Old South Cover

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Railroads in the Old South

Pursuing Progress in a Slave Society

Aaron W. Marrs

Aaron W. Marrs challenges the accepted understanding of economic and industrial growth in antebellum America with this original study of the history of the railroad in the Old South. Drawing from both familiar and overlooked sources, such as the personal diaries of Southern travelers, papers and letters from civil engineers, corporate records, and contemporary newspaper accounts, Marrs skillfully expands on the conventional business histories that have characterized scholarship in this field. He situates railroads in the fullness of antebellum life, examining how slavery, technology, labor, social convention, and the environment shaped their evolution. Far from seeing the Old South as backward and premodern, Marrs finds evidence of urban life, industry, and entrepreneurship throughout the region. But these signs of progress existed alongside efforts to preserve traditional ways of life. Railroads exemplified Southerners' pursuit of progress on their own terms: developing modern transportation while retaining a conservative social order. Railroads in the Old South demonstrates that a simple approach to the Old South fails to do justice to its complexity and contradictions.

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