| Builders of Our Country: Book II|
|by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth|
| A lively account of American history told through 31 biographies, beginning with Patrick Henry at the start of the Revolution and ending with Andrew Carnegie at the close of the 19th century. The biographies are so chosen as to acquaint the reader with the chief personages and events in our national life, by including many vivid pictures of each. Ages 10-12 |
LAND TRAVEL BEFORE 1830
 AS late as the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth
century a land journey of any length was a matter not
lightly to be undertaken. One had to go either on foot, or
by horse. In the modes of travel the people of that time
were no better off than the Romans under Caesar, more
than eighteen hundred years before.
In early colonial times two or more persons traveling
in the same direction often used the "ride and tie system,"
as it was called. That is to say, one would start on
horseback, the other following on foot. The one on horseback,
after riding about a mile would dismount, tie the horse,
and walk on. The one on foot, coming to the horse, would
 mount, ride past the one ahead for a distance, tie the horse,
and walk on in his turn, leaving the horse once more for
the first rider.
In 1776 a coach took thirteen days to journey from
London to Edinburgh; and in this country in the same
year a coach between New York and Philadelphia, the
weather favorable, took two days for the trip.
TRAVELING BY STAGE COACH.
Now we travel at the rate of over fifty miles an hour
and think nothing of it. This great change in the method
of transportation is due, in large measure, to the genius
and ability of George Stephenson.
THE MINE ENGINE AND THE COAL ROADS
GEORGE STEPHENSON was an Englishman. His father
was a poor worker in the coal mines, and as a boy, he too
worked in the mines. He did not know how to read or
write till he was past seventeen, yet he became one of the
most prominent men of his country.
England has always been
celebrated for its coal mines;
and in the years of Stephenson's childhood, the need of a
quicker and a cheaper method
of transporting the coal had
long been felt. In some of the
mines rough rails had been
used, the loads being pulled by horses.
Stephenson was put to
work as engine boy for the
stationary engines used in lifting the coal. He had a
mechanical mind and was fond of machinery. So he soon
 became familiar with the construction of machines, and at
an early age was an expert engineer.
By studying after his working hours he learned to
read and write. He was so poor that in order to increase
his earnings, he made and repaired shoes in the evening.
Later he gained quite a local reputation from the skill with
which he cleaned and repaired clocks.
As he matured and his knowledge of mechanics
increased, he became more and more interested in solving
the question of transporting coal more cheaply. As early
as 1815 he had built an engine which was used in drawing
coal from a mine to the place of shipment several miles
A few years later he constructed another road, the
Stockton and Darlington Railroad. At that time no one
supposed that travelers would care to be carried in this
way; for, as an English newspaper of those days said,
"What person would ever think to pay anything to be
conveyed...in something like a coal wagon...and
to be dragged...by a roaring steam engine?" At the
celebration of the opening of this road a rider on
horseback with a flag led the procession in front of the engine.
You see that the train was not expected to go very fast.
BUT the Stockton and Darlington Railroad proved
successful and led to the construction of the Liverpool
and Manchester Road. In order to decide the best
engine to be adopted on this new road, a contest was held
in which four engines took part, and the prize of five
hundred pounds was won by Stephenson's engine, the
The Liverpool and Manchester Railroad was opened
 in the summer of 1830; and the occasion was honored by
the presence of the Duke of Wellington, many members of
Parliament, and other prominent men. At this opening
the first railroad accident is recorded, Mr. Huskisson, a
distinguished member of Parliament, being killed.
The famous little Rocket is still preserved in London in
the Kensington Museum. It weighs only four and a
quarter tons and is a great contrast to the monsters of
to-day, some of which weigh one hundred and twenty tons.
But small though it be, it is, so to speak, the grandfather
of the present locomotive.
In the United States, railways were quickly introduced.
The first one was only about thirteen miles long and ran
from Baltimore, Maryland, to Ellicott's Mills. Over its
rails in 1830 went the first American locomotive. Ten
years later there were nearly three thousand miles of
rail-  rad in the different states. On May 10, 1869, the last
spike was driven in a railroad that ran clear across our
country from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And to-day one
can travel the 3,322 miles between New York and San
Francisco in about five days, the same length of time it
took the early colonists to journey from New York to
RAILROAD TRAVEL IN NEW YORK STATE IN 1831.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics