Showing posts from 2023

Pinhook, Missouri (1927-2011): A Black Ghost Town

Pinhook, Missouri , a small town situated approximately 8 miles west of the Mississippi River, holds a significant place in history as a black community founded by sharecroppers in 1927. Due to limited options for settlement from white landowners refusing to sell their land, these determined individuals settled in low-lying land that would later prove perilous during flood seasons. ( Location on our Ghost Towns Map ) The status of Pinhook is both a story of ongoing climate change as well as the lackluster emergency response from the government, who in fact made Pinhook's perilous situation even worse. Image: Steve Zumwalt/FEMA via Vox Magazine . Five years after its foundation, the Army Corps of Engineers built the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway to ease the annual flooding along the Mississippi River, in an attempt to save the then-prosperous City of Cairo downstream. The floodway, when used, put the excess waters directly in the path of the town. ( ProPublica ). At its peak, the

When Weather Changed Railroad History: The Story of the Overseas Railroad

The Overseas Railroad was spanned over 156 miles and connected mainland Florida to Key West, a chain of islands at the southernmost tip of the state in an absolute marvel of engineering. The railroad was constructed in the early 1900s by the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) and was completed in 1912, after years of grueling labor and numerous setbacks. ( Right of way ) A vintage FEC Postcard showing the Overseas Railroad  at Long Key Viaduct. Palm Beach Florida Weekly The idea for the Overseas Railroad was conceived by Henry Flagler , a businessman and entrepreneur who was instrumental in developing Florida's tourism industry. Flagler recognized the potential of the Florida Keys as a tourist destination and saw the need for a reliable transportation system to connect the mainland to the islands. The FEC Key West Extension Map (Mike's Railroad History) Construction of the railroad began in 1905 and was one of the most ambitious engineering projects of its time. The railroad wa

From Theseus to 66: What the Ship of Theseus Problem Can Teach Us About Highway Identity

The Ship of Theseus is a classic philosophical thought experiment that asks whether an object that has had all of its parts replaced over time is still fundamentally the same object.  The problem takes its name from the ship that Theseus, a legendary Greek hero, used to sail to Crete to slay the Minotaur. Bing AI Image The story goes that after returning to Athens, Theseus' ship was preserved by the Athenians, who gradually replaced all of its parts as they decayed over time. The question then arises: if all of the parts of the ship have been replaced, is it still the same ship? Or is it a new ship altogether? The Ship of Theseus problem has puzzled philosophers for centuries and raises fundamental questions about the nature of identity and change. Is identity based on the object's material composition or on its function? If all of an object's parts are replaced, does it lose its identity and become a new object? These questions have real-world implications beyond philosop

On Undersea Cables, Historic Routes, Railroad Gauges and Horses' Asses

I once read a story sent through an email chain which I've seen pop up every now and again, which asserts the fact that two horses standing side by side are roughly 5 feet apart is the reason that is the standard gauge of railroad tracks is 4'8 1/2". Created with Bing AI It isn't true , or at the very least there's far more that can be said on how standard gauge came into being. For example, the Southern Railway had a 5' gauge originally . I found this from a Trains forum posts which is one of a few of these stories to go around. I apologize in advance for the rough editing. Railroad gauge     Fascinating Stuff . . .   Railroad Tracks   The U.S. Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.   That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?   Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates designed the U.S. Railroads.   Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail li

Runaway Train: The Manitowoc and Two Rivers Story

On March 7, 1958, a routine freight train departed from Manitowoc, WI headed for Two Rivers, about 8 miles northeasterly along Lake Michigan.  The train consisted of nine cars loaded with a variety of goods, including lumber and sand. What should have been a simple journey quickly turned into a the plot of a movie when the crew decided to take an early morning breakfast break. Thankfully, other than the sinking of the engine and two box cars, there were no injuries. The crew that stopped for breakfast had not properly secured the train before leaving. As a result, the train began to move on its own, picking up speed as it traveled down the tracks. Despite efforts to catch up with the train and bring it to a stop, the crew was unable to do so. "This photo shows Chicago and Northwestern Switch Engine 1083 after it was recovered from the bottom of the Two Rivers Harbor. The front trucks (wheels) are missing because the engine was stuck in 12 feet of mud and when the lift was made to

The St. Lawrence and Industry Village Railroad, 1847-1881 by Alain Bernier

Guest blogger Alain Bernier returns to us to discuss another forgotten part of Quebec's railroad heritage, the St Lawrence & Industry Village Railroad ! Once again, i f you'd be interested in doing a guest blog yourself, feel free to reach out, we always appreciate those willing to help add relevant content to our site!  The St. Lawrence and Industry Village Railroad, 1847-1881 © Alain Bernier, 2023 In Canada, as in many other countries, up until the second half of the 19th century, rivers and canals provided the main routes for long distance travel for goods and people.  Yet, the course of rivers did not always provide the shortest or most practical route between two destinations.  For example, to ship goods from Montreal, QC to upstate New York in the early 19 th century, ships and barges had to navigate down the St. Lawrence River to Sorel, QC where they would enter the Richelieu River, going upstream to Lake Champlain.  The first part of the journey up the river would