OVERVIEW Students gain an understanding of how the railroad impacted many facets of American life.
Did you know that before the invention and popular use of the railroad, Americans told time by the position of the sun in the sky? After the development of the railway system, consistent, accurate time became necessary. In 1883, Standard Railway Time was adopted. Shortly after that, the four time zones – eastern standard, central daylight, mountain standard, and Pacific daylight – were adopted. Who knew that an invention in transportation could drastically alter how Americans told time?
BEFORE YOU GO• Call ahead/research online for maps and information about the railroad and its location.
• Encourage students to list the many things that they can do besides talk to a friend since the invention of the phone. They will come to realize that this one single invention made possible many other things besides what it was invented to do. Their list will also help them begin to understand how the railroad not only helped transport people from place to place, but impacted other areas of American life as well.
WHAT TO WONDERQuestions to ask staff: When was this railroad built? Who used/uses this railroad? Why was/is this railroad used?
Describe what the train looks like; the sounds the train makes; how the train makes your body move and feel.
Observe the scenery from outside the window of the train.
Opinion: Would you enjoy traveling by train as your primary mode of transportation? What would you like/dislike about it?
Compare what it would be like to travel to the same place by train, by car, by place.
Challenge: Consider the work and labor that went into designing, creating, building, and maintaining a railway system. What specific jobs would have needed to be done? What skills would the laborers have needed to possess?
Discuss the reasons why citizens would have been for or against the development of a railroad near their homes.
Project: Write letters or journal entries from the point of view of a train passenger.
Research how the railway system has changed over time.
Social Impact: Many railroads are in danger of being abandoned. Write an editorial that persuades readers about the importance of preserving or eliminating the remaining railroads.