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[Detail] Pinus scopulorum Reproduction, Jemez Springs, New Mexico

Railroads and the Changing Landscape

A Lumber Train

A Lumber Train, Glen Haven, Michigan.

Moffatt Railroad, Colorado

Moffatt Railroad, Tolland, Colorado.

The importance of the railroad in the continuing expansion of settlement and development into remote places in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is clearly evidenced in this collection. Search on railroad to retrieve images of trains barreling through the stark landscape of the West and across the straits of Florida to the Florida keys.

  • With the expansion of railroads, who was able to access remote areas?
  • How did this new accessibility impact these once remote areas and the people who arrived there in terms of economics and in terms of the environment?
  • How did the railroad impact other industries?
  • How did the construction of the railroad impact the environment?
  • Were the costs and benefits of bringing rail lines into remote areas balanced, or did one outweigh the other?
  • How do these images of railroads reflect the interests of the botanists who took the photographs?
  • Do the photographs as a whole seem to reflect certain opinions?
  • If the photographers had used these pictures to illustrate an academic paper on ecology, what topics and arguments might you expect to have found in such a paper?

For more material on the railroad, refer to the American Memory collection Railroad Maps, 1828-1900.