Iron Horses: The New American Railroad
When you hear the clatter of wheels and a shrill whistle, you know that a train is heading your way. But 200 years ago people wouldn't have known what to make of such sounds because trains weren't around at that time!
At first, people were hesitant to ride on these new vehicles. Trains were noisy and smoky and sped along at a dizzying 20 to 30 miles per hour. Can you imagine how fast that must have seemed to someone who was used to traveling on land at about 3 miles per hour by foot, or 8 miles per hour in a horse-drawn carriage? Why do you think people called the new trains "iron horses"?
Railroad companies wanted to convince people that train travel was safe and fun, and they hired photographers to take pictures so people could see what trains looked like. The photographs also showed the exciting and beautiful sights that one could view from the window of a train as it journeyed across the country. After daring to take a train trip, travelers often liked to buy copies of these photographs as souvenirs to show family and friends.