The time will come when
people will travel in stages moved by steam engines from one city to another,
almost as fast as birds can fly, 15 or 20 miles an hour.... A carriage will
start from Washington in the morning, the passengers will breakfast at
Baltimore, dine at Philadelphia, and sup in New York the same day.... Engines
will drive boats 10 or 12 miles an hour, and there will be hundreds of steamers
running on the Mississippi, as predicted years ago. -- Oliver Evans,
The same year Evans made this statement, he created
the earliest successful non-condensing high pressure stationary steam-engine.
Four years later, in 1804, he built the first steam-powered boat.
is like a lie you have to keep building it to make it stand.
-- Mark Twain
RAILROAD, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us
to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. For this purpose the
railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits him to make
the transit with great expedition. -- Ambrose Bierce
Nothing was more up-to-date when it was built, or is more
obsolete today, than the
railroad station. -- Ada
railroad car is not an acquired taste.
One takes to it immediately. -- Eleanor Robson Belmont (1879-1979)
The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam
to a carriage on wheels will make a great change in the situation of man. --
Thomas Jefferson, 1802
If God had meant for us to fly, he wouldn't have
given us the railways. -- Unknown
Rail travel at high speeds is not possible because passengers, unable to
breathe, would die of asphyxia. -- Dionysius Lardner (1842 - 1914) US
journalist, short-story writer
can see nothing to hinder a steam carriage moving on its ways with a velocity of
100 miles an hour. -- Colonel John Stevens, 1812
Railroad iron is a magician’s rod, in its power
to evoke the sleeping energies of land and water. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Only fools want to travel all the time. Sensible men want to arrive. --
One stretch of track was so crooked we met
ourselves coming back. - Unknown
Quotes Appearing in Books and Newspapers:
"On which side of the platform is my train?"
asked a stranger in a Jersey City depot the other day.
"Well, my friend," replied a gentleman, passing, "if you take the
left you'll be right; if you take the right you'll be left." --
Weekly Mountaineer, The Dales, Oregon,
January 6, 1877
man with long gray whiskers came through the cars selling popcorn, chewing gum
and candy. "Hey!" said one of his customers. "I thought young boys were supposed
to do your job."
"I was a
boy when this train started." -- On A Slow Train Through Arkansas, Thomas
W. Jackson, 1903.
A conductor on the Chicago &
Alton Railroad is reported as having forbidden honeymoon "billing and cooing."
Observing a bridegroom's arm out of place he forbade further demonstrations.
"But I have a right to hug her," said John.
"Not on a
railroad," said the conductor, "there is a law
against all unjust discriminations on
and as I haven't a woman for each man on the train to hug, your action is in
violation of the law and must be stopped." -- Bedrock Democrat,
Baker City, Oregon, March 11, 1874.
The unintelligibility of a brakeman's call when
announcing a station is proverbial. The other day however one called Yuma
plainly enough. There was a sheriff on the train with some prisoners for the
penitentiary, and upon announcing the arrival the brakeman shouted:
"Yuma! Change Clothes; 10 years for refreshments!"
--The Daily Arizona Miner,
Prescott, May 20, 1884
Prohibitions: At one time, these were (and sometimes still are) actual laws or
West Virginia law required that if a
within one mile of a community with 100 or more people, then it was required to
build a station and stop their regularly to pick-up and drop-off passengers.
Illinois law once prohibited eating in a place that was on fire.
After much discussion, a 1912 amendment exempted dining cars on steam trains.
Texas law once said: When two trains meet each other at arailroad crossing:
each train shall come to a full stop and neither train shall proceed until the
other has gone. Huh??
A New York City Ordinance prohibited the shooting of
rabbits from the rear of a Third Avenue street car if it was in motion.
Believe it or not, putting salt on a
in Alabama was once punishable by death.
It is considered a misdemeanor offense to throw
pickle juice at a trolley in Rhode Island..
Washington, women who sit on men's laps on trains without placing a
pillow between them would face an automatic six-month jail term.
It is against the law for a
to remove itself from a town of more than five hundred people in South Carolina.
In Washington state, a dog must have accompanied the cowcatcher to scare
livestock from the tracks.
In West Virginia, it was once illegal to sleep on a train.
If you attack a train in Indiana, you're gonna be
South Dakota, it is illegal to place firecrackers on
railroad track. The fine
doubles if they are lit.
In Rhode Island, it is illegal to operate a passenger car between a locomotive
and a load of dirt.
The state of Minnesota enacted a law that defined all
railroad cars as
buildings, and as such were subject to the same rules and restrictions
listed in state building codes.
It is illegal to place soap on
railroad tracks in Mississippi.
In Wisconsin it was once illegal to kiss on a train.
In South Carolina
railroad companies may be held liable for scaring horses.
A Gary, Indiana ordinance once prohibited anyone from attending a movie house,
theater, or riding on a public streetcar within four hours of eating
Two drunks were walking upgrade between the
railroad tracks. One of them said, "this is is longest stairway I have ever
been on." To this, the other replied, "It's not the stairs that bother me, it's
the low banister."
A large two engined train was crossing America.
After they had gone some distance one of the engines broke down. "No problem,"
the engineer thought, and carried on at half power. Farther on down the line,
the second engine broke down, and the train slowed to a dead stop. The engineer
decided he should inform the passengers about why the train had stopped, and
made the following announcement:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I
have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that both engines have
failed, and we will be stuck here for some time. The good news is that you
decided to take the train and not fly."
A man and a woman, who had never met before, found
themselves assigned to the same sleeping room on a transcontinental train.
Although initially embarrassed and uneasy over sharing a room, the two are tired
and fall asleep quickly -- he in the upper bunk and she in the lower. At 2:00
a.m., he leans over and gently wakes the woman, saying, "Ma'am, I'm sorry to
bother you, but would you be willing to reach into the closet to get me a second
blanket? I'm awfully cold." "I have a better idea," she replies. "Just for
tonight, let's pretend that we're married." "Wow! That's a great idea!!" he
exclaims. "Good," she replies. "Get your own damn blanket."
Two drunks were walking down a New York City street
when one fell down the subway steps. When he got back up top he told his
drinking partner, "...boy you got to see that guy's train set in the basement!"
Compiled and edited by
of America, updated April, 2017.