You can be excused if you are beginning to feel a little numb from all of the technological progress which engulfs you in your daily life. It was only a few years ago that flat screen televisions were a new sensation. Now, they’re talking about making them work in 3D, using special glasses. A decade ago, we didn’t have any smartphones (unless you count the original BlackBerry devices) and no one was even thinking about what a tablet could do, until Apple surprised us five years ago with the first iPad. Things seem to be moving so fast, that you can be excused for thinking you could not possibly keep up with it all. But it wasn’t always so. It wasn’t that long ago that progress moved along at what we would consider today a snail’s pace. It is hard to believe that it was just over 200 years ago that our modes of transportation were revolutionized, when the steam locomotive was introduced.
The Romance of a Bygone Era
While today’s trains are fast, silent and efficient, the earliest steam locomotives and the carriages that they took with them were noisy, dirty and made a terrible clatter. But for many of that period, all the commotion was part of the romance of traveling by train. The UK was in many ways the birthplace of the modern railroad. Before the steam engine had been invented and improved by various enterprising fellows, such as Thomas Newcomen and James Watt, right in the middle of the 18th century, there were some crude railways, which used horses to draw a few carriages along. Actually, they were painfully slow, at least when compared to today’s standards. But by the early part of the 19th century, a steam engine which could be successfully used with a steam locomotive was introduced. In short order, rails were laid out across the UK and also in the US, which basically imported British locomotives until they developed their own.
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An Imposing Presence
While today’s latest generation of electric or diesel powered engines move trains along at speeds that would have been unimaginable 100 years ago, they are also quite sleek and aerodynamically shaped so as to create as little resistance to the wind as possible. But the original steam locomotives were anything but graceful. They were big, powerful beasts which snorted and grumbled any chance they got. When pressure was released from the boiler, they gave off a loud hiss which would scare any child, as well as most adults that stood near. The collective impression that they have left on our national conscience is evidenced by the celebrations surrounding this year’s 150th anniversary of the Highland Main Line. However, while these old locomotives have a fascination all of their own, rail transportation today is arguably a lot simpler, faster and more efficient way to travel. Going to places such as Hull from London using the services of www.hulltrains.co.uk/, are a delight, as they can provide you with extremely comfortable and fast transportation.
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Are We in Love with Our past?
Somehow, those big snarling steam locomotives remind us in many ways of a time when life moved at a far more tranquil pace, when we weren’t bombarded with information every second of our lives and when, some would argue, the quality of life was better. But, like every civilization that has come before us, we’re moving resolutely forward. It is hard to imagine exactly what the future will bring.
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