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   xoxoxoBruce  Monday May 23 11:43 PM

May 24th, 2016: First US Commercial Railroad

In 1825, when architect Solomon Willard found a granite ledge in Quincy, MA, he found the perfect stone for what would become the first monumental obelisk erected in the United States, the Bunker Hill Monument. A 221-foot obelisk require some 6,700 tons of granite. Moving the blocks from quarry to the site of construction was the challenge.
Quincy to Charlestown, was 12 miles of swamp, forest, and farms. The stone needed to travel four miles to Neponset River, then barged through Boston Harbor to Charlestown. Willard said move the stones on sledges during winter, but Gridley Bryant, an engineer, suggested a more efficient method, a railroad.

With the support Boston businessman and state legislator Thomas Handasyd Perkins, Bryant ended up designing what would become the first, commercial railroad in the United states. Rather than steam locomotives, Bryant used horses to pull the railcars a distance of three miles from quarries to the Neponset River. A single horse could pull three cars loaded with 16 tons of rock over wooden rails plated with iron. Later, the wooden rails were replaced with granite rails. The iron plates were retained.
Although, Bryant benefitted from developments already in use on railroads in England, he did modify his design to allow for heavier, more concentrated loads and a three-foot frost line. The Granite Railway also introduced several important inventions, including railway switches or frogs, the turntable, and double-truck railroad cars. Gridley Bryant never patented his inventions, believing they should be for the benefit of all.

In 1830, after four years of operation, a new section of the railway called the Incline was added to serve a new mine, the Pine Ledge Quarry. The incline was 315 feet in length and rose to a level of 84 feet. At the top was the new mine while at the bottom was the railroad system. Wagons moved up and down the incline in an endless conveyor belt, delivering loads to the bottom and returning to the top empty. The incline continued in operation until the 1940s.

The new railroad soon started to attract tourists who journeyed out from Boston to watch the mechanical and technological marvel in action. Tourists would step into the empty wagons and would be pulled up the incline. During one such tour, the cable broke and a wagon derailed throwing its occupants over a cliff. One person was killed and three other passengers were badly injured. The accident which occurred on July 25, 1832, became one of the first fatal railway accidents in the United States.
In 1871 the Granite Railway was acquired by the Old Colony and Newport Railway. The new management replaced the granite tracks with contemporary construction. Steam trains then took granite from the quarries directly to Boston without need of barges from the Neponset River. During the early twentieth century, metal channels were laid over the old granite rails on the Incline and motor trucks were hauled up and down on a cable.
Today, a section of this railroad is preserved as a trail and its famous incline is listed on the National Register.
Yeah, a little long, but so is history, bitches.


Scriveyn  Tuesday May 24 04:36 AM

Although, Bryant benefitted from developments already in use on railroads in England, ...
Yep, here's the one that came to my mind when reading the title, as I've been walking along part of it:

Snakeadelic  Tuesday May 24 08:18 AM

...and in the end, a major transportation system still used for all kinds of overland shipping was introduced to the US because of pretty rocks.

Next person who gets condescending about my addiction to collecting minerals is going to get this URL and if they don't get the hint they won't be talking to me again .

Clodfobble  Tuesday May 24 11:06 AM

A single horse could pull three cars loaded with 16 tons of rock over wooden rails plated with iron.
One horse can pull 16 tons? That's astounding.

xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday May 24 12:05 PM

That struck me too, but on a level smooth track, good traction, and well greased wheels, I can believe it. Of course these weren't just horses, these were HORSES, with bloodshot eyes and hairy knuckles.

Diaphone Jim  Tuesday May 24 01:25 PM

That sling mode of transport was used to move huge redwood logs, again by horse (or oxen) power. I've always thought they would make great battering rams.
As for "a level smooth track, good traction, and well greased wheels," hasn't that been the point of rail transport all along?

Is "Rrailroad" really clever?

xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday May 24 08:18 PM

Not the level part.
No, it's a misspelling.

BigV  Wednesday May 25 07:27 PM

Originally Posted by Clodfobble View Post
One horse can pull 16 tons? That's astounding.
And what did they get?

Another day older and deeper in debt.

SPUCK  Thursday Jun 9 03:27 AM

Steel wheels on steel rails is uber efficient!

Union Pacific moves 1 ton 456 miles with one gallon of fuel. Try that with your lameoid rubber tires on ass fault.

xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Jun 9 04:00 AM

That's great if you want to take that ton to someplace on the rails, but no detours, you can't swing by the Mustang Ranch for lunch.

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