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Early Twentieth Century Railroads


Early Twentieth Century Railroad Timeline
Conductors and brakemen on freight and passenger trains once relied exclusively on hand and lamp signals to communicate with each other, the engine crew, and station agents. This Pullman lantern was typical of the 1880s-1900s.
Conductors and brakemen on freight and passenger trains once relied exclusively on hand and lamp signals to communicate with each other, the engine crew, and station agents. This Pullman lantern was typical of the 1880s-1900s.
John B. Corns

1898:

Spain and the United States go to war over Cuba's right to independence.

1900:

Casey Jones' famous train wreck occurs at Vaughn, Mississippi. Jones pays for his miscalculation with his life, but no passengers are killed, and the engineer becomes an American legend.

1901:

The federal government files suit against Northern Securities, a giant rail holding company, for restraint of trade.

1902:

Diesel power is on the rise, operating the entire Corliss Engine Works manufacturing operation. Street railways, meanwhile, carry five billion passengers nationwide.

1906:

Two-thirds of U.S. railroad mileage is controlled by a handful of rail magnates. Congress strengthens the regulatory power of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

1908:

Henry Ford introduces his Model T gas-powered automobile.

1909:

Milwaukee Road joins the ranks of transcontinental railroads.

1910:

Penn Station opens in New York City.

1914:

World War I breaks out in Europe.

1916:

America's peak year for railroad mileage -- 254,037 -- and employment -- 1,701,000. U.S. industrial activity picks up for the war effort.

1917:

The United States formally enters World War I. The federal government assumes control of American railroads as a wartime measure on December 28.

1918:

Armistice is signed on November 11. U.S. Railway Administration Director-General advocates five-year "test" of government control.

1919:

President Wilson announces that railroads will be returned to private control within a year.


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