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30 April 2008 @ 09:29 am
 
In case anyone was interested, this is what I do with my life. Here is a paragraph that I had to turn in for a class I am in right now. It is a small portion of a current thought I am having in my historical career. Maybe I'll post the entire paper when it's done--and if it's good.


While travelling on the Transcontinental Railroad, passengers constructed a narrative in which pioneer travel was considered manlier, virile, and more dangerous when compared to the “charming jaunt” that was railway travel; they could not help but to observe the “contrast between then and now.” Many Americans travelling West by railroad worried about the effects that such travel would provide men and their relationship to pioneer life. They often fretted that “we shall have no Far West, no border, no Civilization in line of battle, pressing back hostile savages, and conquering hostile nature.” As the American West seemingly disappeared, so did the male bravado that coincided with overland travel to these once untamed territories. On the train, men could be observed bickering over first-class accommodations (refusing to ride on anything lower), leaving many to “wonder” if they could even cross “the Plains with ox teams,” like so many travelling West before them. Others were perplexed as to why so many “able-bodied men” preferred railway travel, when “they would have found more solid enjoyment” in travelling and camping the way the pioneers used to do. Even for many women it was “a pathetic sight” to watch the “rough men” who rode the railroads picking up “blade(s) of grass or a clover-blossom” whenever they stepped off of the train. Ultimately, as men and women travelled on the railroad, most agreed that “there has never been a sturdier manhood, a ruggeder resolution…than marked the career of the pioneers to the West.”


Unknown, “Across the Continent: The George Mortimer Pullman Excursion,” New York Times, June 28, 1869, in Riding the Transcontinental Rails: Overland Travel on the Pacific Railroad, 1865-1881, ed. Bruce C. Cooper (Philadelphia: Polyglot Press, 2005), 216, 211.
Albert D. Richardson, “Through the Pacific,” in Ibid, 121.
Ibid, 73.
Robert L. Harris, “The Pacific Railroad—Unopen,” Overland Monthly, September 1869, in Ibid, 183.
Helen Hunt Jackson, “Bits of Travel at Home,” in Ibid, 299.
Benjamin F. Taylor “Between the Gates,” in Ibid, 329.