A form of transportation invented in the early 19th century. Vehicles called locomotives travel on iron or steel tracks spaced approximately four feet apart. The rails are kept separated by spikes driven into timbers.

Called the iron horse by the Indians, railroads were an essential part of the settling of the Wild West. Much of their funding came from Europe, particularly the Dutch. They were built by huge teams of laborers, often immigrants.

Railroads affected the way Americans experienced the world by no longer restricting them by physical obstacles, they were no longer limited to time of year for travel, and it seperated man from his/her environment.

A Civilization advance.
Originally developed in Britain and the eastern United States as as method of hauling heavy mining ores and frieght, railroads outshone canals in their ability to operate across any ground and in nearly any weather. When railroads started carrying passengers as well as goods, the potential for safe, fast, inexpensive transport became clear. Railroads led to a dramatic increase in the amount of cargo, passengers, news, and troops that could move quickly over great distances.
Prerequisites:Bridge Building and Steam Engine.
Allows for: Industrialization.

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Rail"road` (rAl"rOd`), Rail"way` (- wA`), n.


A road or way consisting of one or more parallel series of iron or steel rails, patterned and adjusted to be tracks for the wheels of vehicles, and suitably supported on a bed or substructure.

⇒ The modern railroad is a development and adaptation of the older tramway.


The road, track, etc., with all the lands, buildings, rolling stock, franchises, etc., pertaining to them and constituting one property; as, a certain railroad has been put into the hands of a receiver.

Railway is the commoner word in England; railroad the commoner word in the United States.

⇒ In the following and similar phrases railroad and railway are used interchangeably: --

Atmospheric railway, Elevated railway, etc. See under Atmospheric, Elevated, etc. --
Cable railway. See Cable road, under Cable. --
Ferry railway, a submerged track on which an elevated platform runs, for carrying a train of cars across a water course. --
Gravity railway, a railway, in a hilly country, on which the cars run by gravity down gentle slopes for long distances after having been hauled up steep inclines to an elevated point by stationary engines. --
Railway brake, a brake used in stopping railway cars or locomotives. --
Railway car, a large, heavy vehicle with flanged wheels fitted for running on a railway. [U.S.] --
Railway carriage, a railway passenger car. [Eng.] --
Railway scale, a platform scale bearing a track which forms part of the line of a railway, for weighing loaded cars. --
Railway slide. See Transfer table, under Transfer. --
Railway spine (Med.), an abnormal condition due to severe concussion of the spinal cord, such as occurs in railroad accidents. It is characterized by ataxia and other disturbances of muscular function, sensory disorders, pain in the back, impairment of general health, and cerebral disturbance, -- the symptoms often not developing till some months after the injury. --
Underground railroad or railway.
(a) A railroad or railway running through a tunnel, as beneath the streets of a city.
(b) Formerly, a system of coöperation among certain active antislavery people in the United States, by which fugitive slaves were secretly helped to reach Canada. [In the latter sense railroad, and not railway, was used.] "Their house was a principal entrepot of the underground railroad." W. D. Howells.


© Webster 1913

Rail"road`, v. t.

To carry or send by railroad; usually fig., to send or put through at high speed or in great haste; to hurry or rush unduly; as, to railroad a bill through Condress. [Colloq., U. S.]


© Webster 1913

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