Early American Railroads
This is the first English translation of a monumental account of American railroads (and canals) in the years 1838-1839. Its author, Franz Anton Ritter von Gerstner, was Europe's leading authority on railroad construction, and he conducted his study at the behest of the Russian government, which rightly felt that the United States would provide a more suitable model for the construction of a Russian railroad system than England. For a century and a half, Gerstner's Die innern Communicationen has been recognized as by far the most comprehensive and detailed work on the development, construction, finance, and operation of early American railroads and canals, enriched by accounts of the pioneering men who were involved in the enterprise that was to transform the century.
Most of the technological data presented is to be found nowhere else; for example, virtually every technique for constructing the various kinds of track is explained and illustrated by line drawings. Gerstner supplemented his first-hand observations of every railroad in the United States with data from transportation companies and government documents, including the amounts, dimensions, and kinds of rolling stock, personnel, funds dispersed, revenues collected, ton-miles of freight, and seat-miles of passengers. Throughout, Gerstner's insights and commentary reflect his vast experience and knowledge of railroads (he built what is often called the first railroad on the European continent and the first Russian railroad).
Gerstner went beyond technology to examine the management and organization of railroads and canals and to review the structures and responsibilities of state boards for the oversight of transportation firms. In addition, he included vivid accounts of many aspects of American culture, such as early "Jim Crowism," with blacks traveling in baggage cars rather than coaches, and the horrific working conditions of both free laborers and slaves (the highly profitable Tallahassee Railroad owned its own slaves for working on the line). All in all, the publication in English of Gerstner's encyclopedic work is a major event in the economic and transportation history of the United States.
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Introduction to the English Edition
Map of Canals and Railroads in the United States
One The Canal System in New York State
Two Railroads in New York State
Three Railroads and Canals in the Eastern States
Four Canals and Railroads in the State of Ohio
Steamship service on the inland lakes History List of
O L U M E T W
Six Canals and Railroads in the States of New Jersey
Wilmington Baltimore Philadelphia Reading
Seven Railroads in the States of Delaware Maryland
Delaware Chesapeake Delaware Canal New Castle
Eight The Internal Communications of the States of Georgia
Georgia Railroad Banking
Glossary of German Terms used in the Plates
highways and railroads undertaken by the state Description
branch road to Havre State canals Railroads undertaken
addition Albany amount annual average baggage cars Baltimore boats Boston branch canals bridge Buffalo building built carried cents per mile Champlain Canal charter Chenango Canal coal completed construction costs crossties curves Delaware depot distance embankments entire line Erie Canal expenditures feet long feet wide Franz Anton freight cars Gerstner gross revenues Hence horses Hudson River inches thick inches wide inclined planes iron Lake Erie land latter length loaded loans Lockport locks locomotives maintenance mile traveled miles long Mississippi months navigation number of passengers Ohio Ohio River opened operating expenses Oswego Canal paid passenger coaches Philadelphia Plate profit radius railway repairs road roadbed rolling stock route runs Schenectady Schuylkill shipped steam engines steamboats stock capital stone strap rails stretch stringers superstructure Susquehanna Table Tennessee River tolls ton-mile track structure traffic train trip Utica weight wheels width wood wooden York