By Christian Wolmar
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Extra resources for Blood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World
The main lines of Europe, showing today’s borders and country names. The main Andean railways at their peak – showing connections into Argentina – some of which have now been closed. The transcontinental routes in the United States and Canada: despite the closure of many minor lines, the main transcontinental routes have survived largely unscathed. The main lines of Australia. The Ghan railway – the north–south transcontinental line through the centre linking Adelaide and Darwin – was not completed until 2004.
In fact, progress inland was slow as result of opposition, not least from some legislators, and it would actually take a quarter of a century for the line to reach Wheeling, the original planned destination, by which time the east coast was peppered with railways (see Chapter 4) and the great project to link the two coasts would have started. By then, too, the Baltimore & Ohio was linked with various other railways including a branch to Washington opened in 1835 which, interestingly, was partially funded by the state government.
There is, for example, far more on the American railroads than on those of many other countries. But there are good reasons for this. At its peak, the US railroad system represented about a third of the world’s total mileage and, as explained in Chapter 4, contributed to the very creation of the globe’s most powerful nation. Admittedly, too, there is a more comprehensive and accessible literature on US railroad history than on any other country’s, and the availability of good studies on various railways has meant that on occasion I have given them disproportionate coverage.