Friday, June 4, 2010

A Week in Review

Hi. It’s Friday. This was a short work week with the holiday Monday, so Friday came quickly. And I was very ill (I’ll spare you the details) Tuesday through Thursday, which leaves me now realizing that I don’t remember much of the week…? I know that people say that getting sick is a blessing because it gives you a greater appreciation for good health. I think that I’d be ok with never getting this again, and just having a general liking of good health.

Let’s do a week in review.

Trains, No Planes, and One Automobile
Melissa and I drove the beloved Ford Taurus to the Golden Spike National Site on Monday. It’s about 30 or 40 miles west of Brigham City, a pleasant and easy drive. The site is the place where, in 1869, the construction of the Central Pacific railroad coming from California and the Union Pacific railroad coming from Iowa met. The last spike was driven here, finishing the first transcontinental railroad line. They had a ceremony highlighted by the placing of The Golden Spike. I kind of thought that, at the original ceremony, they drove a real golden spike into the rail tile and left it there, but they didn’t. The golden spike was ornamental, symbolic, and not to be driven with a huge sledge hammer into a wood tile. Only real spikes are in the tiles. I suppose that makes more sense.

Anyway, there was a reenactment of the ceremony, and then a demonstration on how the locomotives worked (they always said “locomotive” in the demonstration, not train). There were two things that I found very interesting. When the last spike was driven (again, not an actual golden spike), a telegraph message saying “DONE” went out to cities all over the country, and those cities held huge celebrations – fireworks, cannons, all kinds of tom foolery. When you think about it, having a transcontinental railway was a huge achievement for the country and well worth the attention.

The second interesting thing we learned was that the locomotives were powered by steam (I kind of knew that before). Water was held in a 2,000 gallon tank that went along the back part of the engine, and then they burned either wood or coal to create the steam. I don’t really know how to accurately describe how much wood they stocked up. They said that it was 5 cords, but really what does that mean to the average person? I’d say the pile was about 4 feet high 20 feet wide and 40 feet long - pretty big. That much would and water created enough steam to power the engine – for 30 miles. 2,000 gallons of water got them 30 miles. I couldn’t believe it! Burning coal instead of wood got them about 100 miles because coal burns more efficiently. I think that trains then went about 30 miles an hour, which meant that once an hour they had to stop for more water and wood. Geesh ,that sounds like a lot of work. But still, traveling by train would have been easier for people than walking along side a wagon or pulling a handcart across the plains. And the break gave them a chance to use the bathroom and get a big gulp at the local 7-Eleven.

Here are some photos.

I’m reading a novel called the "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society", and I love it! What a good book. It’s set on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands between England and France in 1946. The whole story is written in letters to and from the different characters. It’s lighthearted and fun, and yet there are sad pieces when the people are remembering their lives during the War. The sadness is real, but it’s not so heavy that it weighs down the whole book. There's a good balance of depth and humor. I highly recommend it.
I think that's it for today. Thanks, as always, for keeping in touch.
You are loved.


Kelli said...

That is one of my favorite books! I loved it. I just started rereading it and then my mom saw it and took it home with her... Someday I will have to sing you my song about the wedding of the rails! 4th grade (about 1.5 millions years ago) and I can still remember it.

Tiffany said...

I've been a little behind, but I'm here! My favorite line: " I know that people say that getting sick is a blessing because it gives you a greater appreciation for good health. I think that I’d be ok with never getting this again, and just having a general liking of good health."