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Digital Railroad Materials, Part 2
Is there anybody out there who does not like trains? OK, perhaps more than a few people are fed up with their daily commute. Also, trains do sometimes fail us. It was very unfortunate that during the March Snowstorm of 1888 about seventy-five miles of the Long Island Railroad system was blockaded by the snow and that the street railroad system of Brooklyn became useless.
But perhaps in different circumstances Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World : From the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief on a luxary train with food served on board would not be such a bad idea. (By the way, please see some of the train menus that we have digitized and which were transcribed with the help of crowdsourcing ). Also you may consider following William D. Middleton On Railways Far Away.
We could make a business case here using data from IBISWorld database (available at SIBL). The Scenic and Sightseeing Transportation industry (not only trains) registered a revenue of $2.7 billion in 2013 in the United States alone. The general Rail Transportation had revenue of $73.6 billion in the U.S. in 2013 ($61.6 billion in China). Train, Subway and Transit Car Manufacturing industry earned $14.4 billion in the U.S. in 2013 ($24.5 billion in China). In other words, these are formidable industries.
If scenic rides, food and economic impact of trains are not good enough for you, one can always offer a philosophical perspective on trains. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) in his Human, All Too Human. A Book for Free Spirits wrote: "The press, the machine, the railway, the telegraph are premises whose thousand-year conclusion no one has yet dared to draw."
I'm not quite ready yet to provide a thousand year conclusion but instead let's have a closer look at a small segment of digitized NYPL periodicals that deal with trains and railroads in one way or another and are served via HathiTrust website. Several railroad titles are listed below. Dates indicate ranges of dates covered by the combined print and digital versions. Please see our records for precise information on which years have been digitized and have a great railroad adventure. James Jerome Hill (1838-1916), known as The Empire Builder who was the chief executive officer of a family of lines headed by the Great Northern Railway, once said: "Most men who have really lived have had, in some share, their great adventure. This railway is mine."