In the years following the Civil War, the land west of the Mississippi River was being settled and the Pacific Northwest explored. There remained, however, a large portion of Montana, Idaho, and Washington that contained enormous quantities of timber and minerals, but was not accessible by rail. By far the most grueling stretch was the Stevens Pass area in the Cascade Mountains.
"May God continue the unity of our Country as this Railroad unites the two great Oceans of the world."
- Inscription on the ceremonial Golden Spike
The symbolic Golden Spike, staked in Promontory, Utah in 1869, marked the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, joining the Union Pacific Railroad from the East and the Central Pacific Railroad from the west.
One of the earliest and most impressive of America's great railroad engineering feats, the Horseshoe Curve was built as a means of overcoming a straight-line grade over the geological feature known as the Allegheny Escarpment or Allegheny front, which separates the ridge-and-valley section of Pennsylvania (on the east) from the Allegheny Front (on the west). Such a straight-line route would have made commercial railroad operations unfeasible from both and economic and technical standpoint.
When first proposed in 1819, the Hoosac Tunnel seemed so logical. It would provide an efficient and direct route for the Boston and Albany Railroad, whose pathway meandered 20 miles along precipitous grades. Early proponents, however, could not have imagined that blasting a 4.75 mile tunnel through the Hoosac Mountain would require over 20 years of labor. The project took so long to complete that it was commonly referred to as "The Great Bore."
The Granite Railway Company of Quincy was the first commercial railway in the United States. Incorporated in 1826 and designed by Gridley Bryant, the railway relied on horses, rather than steam locomotives, to draw the cars along the tracks. Its primary purpose was to transport granite from Quincy to build the Bunker Hill Monument.
The Dublin to Belfast Rail Link established a vital connection between the capitals of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The line's most notable engineering feature was the 1,760-foot-long Boyne Bridge; it represented one of the earliest uses of calculated stresses, the first large-scale use of wrought iron latticed girders, and the first full scale test of continuous beams. Tests performed on the wrought iron columns and struts were published and provided invaluable information for engineers who would design similar structures in the future.
State: Tokyo-to Zip: 100-0005 Country: Japan Website: https://www.asme.org/about-asme/who-we-are/engineering-history/landmarks/211-tokaido-shinkansen Creator: Shima, Hideo
In 1964, Shinkansen (which means "new trunk line" and is also known as the bullet train) between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka became the world's first high-speed railway system, running at a maximum business speed of over 200 km/h (130-160 mph).
New Orleans State: LA Zip: Country: USA Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/history/landmarks/topics-m-z/rail-transportation---2/-101-st--charles-avenue-streetcar-line-%281835%29, https://www.asme.org/getmedia/40ef6e7c-697d-4f77-8daa-059a37f698b3/101-St-Charles-Avenue-Streetcar-Line-1835.aspx Creator: Perley A. Thomas Car Company
The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line is the oldest surviving interurban-urban passenger rail transportation system in the United States. Originally incorporated as the New Orleans Carrollton Rail Road in 1833, service began in 1835. A variety of motive power had been used including horses, mules, overhead cable, steam engines, and ammonia engines before electrification in 1893. The 900-series cars presently in service were designed and built by the Perley A. Thomas Car Company of High Point, North Carolina, in 1923 to 1924.
In the late 1920s, the automobile cut railroad passenger service by more than half. The debut of the Pioneer Zephyr heralded a comeback in 1934, touring the country and being seen by some two million people in 222 cities.
605 Alpnach State: Zip: Country: Switzerland Website: https://www.asme.org/about-asme/who-we-are/engineering-history/landmarks/220-pilatusbahn, https://www.asme.org/getmedia/8c4b369d-83fd-4b9e-9248-b6d78b28628c/220-Pilatusbahn-1882.aspx Creator: Locher, Eduard , Locher Systems
The Pilatusbahn—the steepest rack railway in the world—has operated successfully since its opening in 1889 over a route of 4.62 kilometers (2.87 miles) between Alpnachstad on Lake Lucerne and Pilatus Kulm, rising 6,791 feet (2,070 meters) above sea level. This results in a gradient of 48%, or a rise of nearly one meter in two meters of run on the steepest sections of the line, which amounts to about a quarter of its length.