It’s hard to grasp now how much the introduction of railroads and railway services during the late 18th century and early 19th century forever changed the way we commute, travel, and transport our stock and goods.
It was a grand leap of faith into a new future, similarly to how the picture changed decades later with the introduction of commercial flights. In both cases, the world went faster, stronger, better.
Depending on the decade, different combustible resources such as timber, coal, or oil helped power the locomotive machinery.
During the 20th century, the appearance of the first streamliner locomotives, which are now the epitomes of the era, was of utmost importance.
Of the thousands of streamliners that entered services across America, only a small fraction were employed for passenger train operations. Their sound boomed from the one end of the continent to the other.
The Hudson 4-6-4 locomotive is now recognized as a classic of the New York Central Railroad. (4-6-4 refers to it’s wheel arrangement of four leading wheels, six driving wheels, and four trailing wheels.) Its design was out there by the mid-1920s but the new machine had to wait at least a decade before it officially started operations.
The Hudson model developed because the New York Central was in dire need of a stronger and more powerful steamliner, one which could more efficiently move the ever-growing number of travelers from the east to the west. Devising the Hudson was no mistake by any means and the company added almost 300 in its inventory. They hauled the railroad’s flagship trains including the 20th Century Limited and the Empire State Express.
With the supersonic trains we have today, the Hudson locomotives may seem to be of little use. Except they treat us with their beauty and allow us to muse on everything they symbolized back in the day: progress, faith in technology, civilization, and new journeys.
There were other models that were introduced by the New York Central Railroad after the Hudson, such as the 4-8-2 Mohawk steam locomotive. This one looked as if it were a twin of the 4-6-4 type and it was also initiated.
The Milwaukee Railroad was widely praised when they introduced the first Hiawatha streamliner in the spring of 1935. The Hiawatha became the Milwaukee Railroad’s success story, and dozens of these were employed for its services. The machine was able to maintain an average speed of 80 mph.
The streamliners snaked across the country, fast enough that they are even credited with helping the Allies win World War Two. Their usage continued well after the war.
In 1910 an extraordinary conversation took place at the House of Representatives, when Congressman Robert F. Broussard of Louisiana opened up discussion of H.R. 23261, or to give it a more familiar title, the “Hippo Bill.”
The bill was designed to address a make or break issue for the future of America, namely the “Meat Question.” With a burgeoning population, the U.S. had eaten its way through the national beef supply.
The days of the cow seemed to be numbered, and hippopotami were being eyed as the next item on the menu.
There was a slight problem, however, in that they weren’t on the same continent as hungry Americans.
The plan was to bring the animals over from Africa and add this juicy new staple to the food chain. A quarter of a million dollars would be needed to set the plan in motion.
The scheme sounded strange, but compelling. It also took care of another tricky situation for the enterprising Congressman.
At that time Broussard had a major problem in his backyard: water hyacinths.
The Japanese introduced the persistent plant to New Orleans as a present in the late 1800s, but this soon turned from a blessing into a curse. The hyacinths had spread and were now clogging up the rivers.
Fish were being wiped out. Something had to be done.
Thankfully for Broussard, a man was waiting in the wings with a bold concept. American Frederick Russell Burnham was a true adventurer and a major inspiration for the international Scout movement. A decorated soldier and a fearless spy, Burnham had spent his fair share of time in inhospitable situations and eaten some weird meals as a result.
As quoted by author Jon Mooallem (author of American Hippopotamus) in his piece for Atavistmagazine, Burnham reasoned that “man’s stomach, like his hand, can be trained to adapt itself to many strange uses.” Burnham believed the hippo was the United States’ salvation, and associated its arrival with a new chapter in the American story.
Some may have thought the plan sounded crazy, but to him it was bold. The media took to his idea, depicting the roaming creature in cozy, familiar terms. The most famous description came from the New York Times, which somewhat optimistically labeled hippos as “lake cow bacon.” Conveniently for Broussard, this bacon source also liked to munch on water hyacinths.
Broussard had brought Burnham to the House in order to talk up the Hippo Bill. However, Burnham wasn’t the only voice in the room. Another expert had been consulted on the matter, and he too spoke in the corridors of power about the benefits of importing African animals.
His name was Fritz Duquesne and he was from South Africa. Like Burnham, he’d served in the military and was renowned for his deadly skills. The pair were certainly aware of one another. In fact they’d spent a lot of time trying to kill each other during the Second Boer War, under orders from their respective governments.
The two men were different in many ways. Burnham was steady as a rock, the “King of the Scouts,” whereas Duquesne was regarded as calculating in his methods. He was referred to by the menacing title “Black Panther of the Veld.”
Having them under the same roof could have been catastrophic for Congressman Broussard. Yet despite this rivalry, the pair had a common goal, and it revolved around the unlikely subject of hippopotamus exploitation.
As Jon Mooallem explained: “These two men will seem larger than life, but they lived at a time, a hundred years ago, when, I would argue, life in America seemed larger than life—when what was unimaginable still felt feasible and ideas that looked ridiculous could still come true.”
Burnham, Broussard, and Duquesne formed a company, the New Food Society, with the aim of promoting their exotic agenda and making H.R. 23261 a reality for American dinner tables. The two soldiers formed a respect for each other in business, putting their professional hatred aside.
It helped that the group’s endeavors had backing from the highest places in government. As detailed by Mooallem, “Theodore Roosevelt, a friend of Burnham’s, had been so impressed with the idea a few years earlier that, newspapers reported, he’d pledged ‘his hearty approval and promise of cooperation.’”
Duquesne had his own association with the former President. When he came to live in America, he advised Roosevelt on hunting tactics for a forthcoming trip to Africa. Then he used his skills as a journalist to write columns for newspapers about what the Commander in Chief might be shooting at over there.
He was adept at self-publicity, developing the theme into a series of lectures. It was natural that Broussard would hear about him, and invite him to become part of his national drive alongside Burnham. Duquesne became the public face of the operation.
Meanwhile, Burnham and Broussard were devoting time to their respective and somewhat busy lives. At that point, a new figure entered the fray for the New Food Society, a writer and inventor by the name of Eliot Lord. Unfortunately, his forward style was not to Burnham and Broussard’s liking, and he operated more in partnership with Duquesne.
It appeared the men were diverging as a team, and that hippos would never wind up on the plates of needy patriots.
There was, of course, another factor that put a fly in the African ointment… the outbreak of war. Duquesne was carrying with him the trauma of the Second Boer War. His family had reportedly been brutalized and murdered by British soldiers. At least that was the picture painted by Clement Wood in a 1932 account, researched by Mooallem.
Duquesne had a reputation for embellishing his personal history, though. His partners were ardent Americans, but Duquesne’s loyalties were more divided.
World War One saw him adopt the alias of Captain Claude Stoughton, a British military man. The “Black Panther of the Veld” was back in action as a saboteur. In 1917 he was investigated by the New York City Police’s bomb squad, who uncovered a network of secret identities and evidence of violence happening in the name of German supremacy.
He was arrested but famously pretended to be paralyzed, using this subterfuge to escape to Europe. Eventually he was caught as ringleader of the Duquesne Spy Ring in 1941, one war later, and sent down for 18 years. Peter Duffy’s 2014 book Double Agent focused on William Sebold, who worked with the FBI to topple the ring.
The Daily Mail published a piece on the book, in which the writer observed that “The timely arrests served to deprive Adolf Hitler of the help of spies at the time he would need it the most, the convictions coming down on December 12, 1941, one day after war had been formally declared against Germany and Italy by the United States.”
By this point, the idea of hippos as a solution to the food crisis had been kicked into the long grass, along with the water hyacinths. Factory farming and mass production processes had given the cow a new lease of life, or should that be death?
The dreams of Burnham and Broussard would go unfulfilled. All three principal players in the saga had made achievements following different roads. However, that one strange chapter featuring hippos will remain a fascinating footnote in their biographies.
Reno is a city in the U.S. state of Nevada. It is in Northern Nevada, approximately 22 miles (35 km) from Lake Tahoe.
Known as “The Biggest Little City in the World”, Reno is famous for its hotels and casinos and as the birthplace of Harrah’s Entertainment (now known as Caesars Entertainment Corporation). It is the county seat of Washoe County, in the northwestern part of the state.
Reno sits in a high desert at the foot of the Sierra Nevada and its downtown area (along with Sparks) occupies a valley informally known as the Truckee Meadows. It is named after slain Union general Jesse L. Reno.
Reno is the most populous Nevada city outside the Las Vegas Valley, and part of the Reno–Sparks metropolitan area, which consists of all of both Washoe and Storey counties.
These amazing photos from Barb Henry were taken by her parents that captured everyday life of Reno from the early 1960s.
These amazing photographs were all taken in the 1840s using the daguerreotype which had just been invented. Images show various people from 1840s New York and bring to life how people looked and dressed in that era. They believed to have been taken by legendary early American photographer Matthew Brady, show a selection of 11 portraits taken as daguerreotype images.
The American veterans who dedicated their lives to serve their nation deserve nothing short of thanks, gratitude, and support.
There is no doubt that what they did for their country is a debt that can never be repaid, but it is the duty of American citizens to honor their sacrifice and show them the respect they earned.
Speaking of respect, here is a story of a man named Andrew Lumish, who spends every Sunday cleaning the forgotten tombstones of military veterans in Florida.
In today’s hard-working world many of us would probably spend the weekend relaxing in front of the TV, or maybe in the countryside away from crowded cities. This is not the case with Lumish, who uses his one day off to honor the veterans by patiently cleaning their decaying tombstones.
The process seems to be quite complicated. Lumish sometimes spends up to four months cleaning some of these tombstones.
Aside from this unusual hobby, Lumish is a history buff and also enjoys photography. He told the Tampa Bay Times that it all started in Oaklawn Cemetery, where he went to take photos of historic graves. He found out that many of the tombstones for military veterans were practically destroyed.
Lumish works six days a week as a carpet and upholstery cleaner but still loves spending his day off scrubbing forgotten tombstones. He made this his life mission.
What started as his hobby eventually transformed into his passion. Uncovering the names on veterans’ tombstones became his life goal. It earned him the nickname “the Good Cemeterian.”
In 2016, he told CBS News that what disturbed him the most was that veterans resting beneath the tombstones were forgotten. He couldn’t properly thank them and understand who they were.
The Good Cemeterian started his mission back in 2013. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he had restored around 300 tombstones by November 2015. But Lumish is not just uncovering the names of the military veterans; he is also uncovering the history behind the names. His goal is to bring their memory and resting place back to life.
When Lumish finishes cleaning the grave markers he shares a before and after photo on his Facebook and Instagram page, adding important historical facts about the veterans.
The tombstone of a Civil War veteran named Henry J. Fletcher was the first Lumish restored. He also cleaned another one the same day.
Although he is a professional cleaner, Lumish had never cleaned tombstones before. He managed to develop his own unique method and from what we can see, it works pretty well. The results are stunning.
Many people were interested in learning how exactly Lumish restores tombstones so that they could also join his mission and follow his steps. On his Facebook page titled The Good Cemetarian, he shares some important instructions about the process of cleaning tombstones.
He notes that the product he uses is called D/2 Biological Solution and that it can be used for cleaning granite, marble, and sandstone monuments.
Many veterans and their families from all over the country thank him for what he does, but as Lumish told CBS News, he feels that he is unworthy of the same respect as the veterans who choose to serve the United States.
Keeping the memories of American veterans alive is what Lumish truly loves and what inspires him to continue his mission. He’s done a great job so far, and he has taught us how important it is never to forget the sacrifices of the veterans and to always show them the respect they deserved.
Most depictions of pirates in contemporary popular culture are based on the actions of pirates who operated during the golden age of piracy, which lasted from the beginning of the 1650s until the late 1730s. The period between 1650 and 1680 is known as the “buccaneering period”: during that time, English and French pirates on Jamaica and the famous island of Tortuga attacked Spanish colonies and merchant ships in the Caribbean.
The 1690s were known as the “pirate round”; many pirates from the Caribbean and the Americas ventured to the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to attack Muslim merchants and the supply ships of the East India Company. The final wave of booming piracy, which lasted from 1716 to the late 1730s, was triggered by the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. After the war, many English and American sailors were left unemployed and turned to piracy, usually targeting ships in the Caribbean, the North American eastern seaboard, the Indian Ocean, and the coast of West Africa.
Some of the most famous pirates, including Edward Thatch, known as “Blackbeard,” Bartholomew Roberts known as “Black Bart,” “Black Sam” Bellamy, and John “Calico Jack” Rackham, operated in the final years of the golden age.
Another notorious pirate of that period was Benjamin Hornigold, who started his brief yet prolific pirating career in the winter of 1713.
In the beginning of his career, Hornigold was a low-level looter who organized small raids off the coast of New Providence, the most populous island in the Bahamas. He and his gang used sailing canoes and a small ship to attack merchant’s vessels. Hornigold progressed quickly: by 1717 he was in command of a 30-gun sailing ship named “Ranger” that was at the time the most heavily armed in the Bahamas. Also, he gathered a gang of around 350 tough men who were all eager to wreak havoc and pillage merchant ships.
Hornigold was the captain and his second-in-command was none other than Edward Thatch, the notorious pirate who later became known as “Blackbeard.” The two of them organized thoroughly planned raids during which they seized several cargo ships and formed a small pirate fleet that became the scourge of the Bahamas. At one point during 1717, the Governor of South Carolina sent a heavily armed ship to find and capture Hornigold. The pirates attacked the ship so fiercely that she ran aground on the island of North Cat Cay and her crew fled for their lives.
Also in 1717, Hornigold and his crew attacked a merchant ship off the coast of Honduras. As terrified merchants begged for their lives, Hornigold’s crew explained that they had gotten drunk the night before and had thrown their hats into the sea, so they had attacked the merchant ship only to steal the hats of her crew. After they took the merchants’ hats, Hornigold and his crew allowed them to continue with their journey. Some historians believe that this curious endeavor was nothing more than Hornigold’s and Thatch’s wish to display their power.
Hornigold never attacked British ships and claimed that he defended British economic policies by attacking the ships of the enemies of the British Empire. However, in November of 1717, Hornigold’s crew decided to overthrow him and attack ships sailing under any flag. Since Thatch was in command of his own ship at the time, he wasn’t around to help Hornigold quell the mutiny. Hornigold was overpowered and forced to flee for his life with a small ship and several of his most loyal men.
Several months later, he sailed to Jamaica and received a pardon for his criminal activities from the then governor of Jamaica named Woodes Rogers. In 1717 and 1718, King George I issued proclamations known as the “King’s Pardons,” which granted an official pardon to all pirates who surrendered to any colonial government under the domain of the British Empire. Governor Rogers granted Hornigold’s request for a pardon, but he also recruited him as a pirate hunter.
In his final years, the once powerful and feared Hornigold was forced to try and hunt down his former associates, including Blackbeard. Although he sailed around the Bahamas for 18 months, he never managed to catch any of his former allies. During one particularly severe storm, his ship crashed into an uncharted reef between the Bahamas and New Mexico, and Hornigold and his new pirate-hunting crew were never seen again.