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Showing posts from February, 2010

Firsts and Lasts

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The year was 1827, the date February the 28th. American railroad history was made with the incorporation of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad through an act of the Maryland Legislature. It was a date that would begin an era of expansion and industrialization in the New World. With the explorations of Lewis and Clark only two decades before, the entire country was opening before an onslaught of settlers and progress moving west.
For its part, the B&O would remain one of the dominant forces in the railroad and transportation industry for more than a century. In the era of streamliners and profitable eastern lines, its slogans proclaimed its stature with memorable lines like, "Linking 13 Great States with the Nation" or, "Timesaver Service."

The era of expansion across the American frontier would eventually see the construction of several transcontinental railroads spread out over key northern, central, and southern corridors. Famous lines like the Central Pacifi…

Juxtaposition

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On a quiet Sunday afternoon, a small group of worshipers gathers in a small traditional looking church. The A-frame design bespeaks years of expectation and American church culture. The singing inside follows a tune that is familiar to some, albeit mostly those from older generations. Words ring out with a chorus of, "This is my savior, this is my song. Praising my savior, all the day long." The old hymn's title: "Blessed Assurance."
The small group concentrates on the harmony of the old hymn and memories of Sundays that have played out over the many years before. "This is my song," they sing as the chorus again rolls around. It's a scene from countless churches sprinkled out across the great landscape of the American countryside. It recalls similar gatherings sprinkled back across the years of the small American churches as well. Little has changed in many of these places. Change seems reserved for a few added creases in the bindings o…

Great Plains and Big Sky

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The world is a big place...but on some levels it doesn't seem so large any more. Communication has made contact with other cities, states, and countries unremarkable. Yet 100 years ago, the system we take for granted today was unthinkable and unheard of. In 1910 roads were poor, autos were for the wealthy and well-to-do, and telegrams were a normal means of fast communication. Many rural stations had Western Union offices for that very reason. 100 years ago, the world was a very big place indeed.
Interestingly, the world itself hasn't changed all that much. The wind blows across the plains of the West, the tall grasses whisper and bend beneath its howling, the clouds still roll quickly across the big skies. While much of the country has connected itself to everything, the land it inhabits still shows many of the constants it always has. We've done our best to carve it up and parcel it out but that original beauty of what was is still there somewhere. Somewhere b…