It seems that this colourfully familiar but often misunderstood term was intimately associated with the ambitious project of the building of the Union Pacific Railroad in the mid-1860s.

As noted in the Dictionary of the Range, Cow Camp and Trail (1946): "This expression originated during the building of the Union Pacific Railway in 1867. As the rails were laid westward, the honkytonks, gambling halls and harlots were loaded on flatcars and moved to the new terminals."

Now, the term tends to be used for those drivers of automobiles (or other wheeled implements of transportation, such as bicycles, motocycles or inline skates) that proceed recklessly and without heed of their own safety or the safety of others.

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