When he’s not taking care of a majestic marshaling of toy trains, Graham Claytor gets to play with the real thing

The spare and vigorous gentleman on the opposite page, William Graham Claytor, Jr., superintending the departure of a local out of South Sun-Porch Station, D.C., at his brick house in Georgetown, is the only man in Washington, or anywhere else in the country for that matter, who runs two big passenger railroads. His other layout is the twenty-five thousand miles, more or less, of Amtrak, with headquarters a few miles away at the newly restored Union Station.Read more »

How Railroads Forever Changed the Frontier

They created towns and became the center of Western life, enabling wheat, cattle, and minerals to flow out of the West

Half a century after engines touched pilot to pilot at Promontory, Utah, to complete the first transcontinental railroad, the imprint of the Iron Road was nearly everywhere in the American West. Some enthusiastic real estate promoters and railway officials even claimed that the railroads invented the West—or at least the national image of the West.Read more »

To Plan A Trip

For information about golden Spike, visit the official Web site of the National Park Service ( ), or call 435-471-2209. To learn more about Union Station, visit , or call 801-393-9886. The railroad museum shares the station with other attractions, including the Browning Firearms Museum, dedicated to the work of Ogden’s own John M. Browning (1855–1926), inventor of a number of famous guns.Read more »

Grand Junction

Where Two Lines Raced To Drive The Last Spike In Transcontinental Track

If you were asked to name pivotal meetings in American history, the linking of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads might not immediately come to mind. But it was perhaps the most important. Before the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, it took months to get from coast to coast, and more than $1,000. After these two lines met at Promontory Summit in northern Utah, a New Yorker could travel to California in a week for as little as $70. Read more »

Business Scandal

Overrated For a hundred years the armor-plate scandal of the 1890s has been offered up as a definitive example of corporate greed. In fact it’s a better example of government incompetence. Read more »

The Myth Behind The Streetcar Revival

Light rail was an attractive, economical, and environmentally sound technology— until the auto companies crushed it. That, at any rate, is what a lot of people believe, and now the nation is spending billions to re-create an imaginary past.

In a crucial scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit , the murderous Judge Doom reveals a “plan of epic proportions” for transforming metropolitan Los Angeles. He boasts to private detective Eddie Valiant that his Cloverleaf Industries has bought the Red Car electric railway network so that he can dismantle it. Read more »

It Was Bad Last Time Too: The Crédit Mobilier Scandal of 1872

The S&L crisis has been described again and again as the worst case of business and government corruption since the Crédit Mobilier scandal of the Grant administration, and the similarities extend far beyond the staggering amounts of money involved. In both cases the U.S. government virtually gave the businessmen involved license to loot the Treasury; the looting went on for years, and when it finally came to light, it was apparent that close attention by Congress or the administration could have prevented it.

When Our Ancestors Became Us

In 1820 their daily existence was practically medieval; thirty years later many of them were living the modern life

It is a commonplace that the American Revolution determined the political destiny of the country. Far less noted is the fact that the Revolution’s consequences, profound as they were, had little, if any, impact on the daily existence of most Americans. The social structures and economic realities that had determined the everyday lives of the British subjects living in the colonies continued to determine the existence of the American citizens of the new Republic.Read more »

Post Haste

The urge to move documents as fast as possible has always been a national pre-occupation, because it has always been a necessity. Fax and Federal Express are just the latest among many innovations for getting the message across.

Reaching out and touching someone hasn’t always been easy—especially if it was necessary to hand that person something in the process. Yet there have always been Americans who absolutely and positively had to have it the next day, week, month, at any cost, and this in turn has always drawn others with the dollars and determination to make it happen.Read more »

Gods Of Pennsylvania Station

A trackside album of celebrities from the days when the world went by train

A person used to enter New York City “like a god,” said the art critic Vincent Scully, but “one scuttles in now like a rat.” Read more »