Before the 1800’s, people judged the time of day by the position of the sun, but railroad builders saw that the sun’s position changed depending upon what part of the country you were in—thus time zones were established in the U.S. “The expansion of transport and communication during the 19th century created a need for a unified time-keeping system.”
The program covered railway travel of every kind from city subways to mountain rail lines—from the Atlantic to the Pacific through 4 time zones. A 3,000-mile journey that was traveled in 6 months, now takes only 5 days.
The program showed how the building of train routes affected everything: the traveling “towns” which followed the trains, mining, the contributions of the Chinese, the harm to the lifestyle of Native Americans, the effect of the outcome of the Civil War, etc. In 1846 Truckee, California, there was a winter so bad that the travelers (Donner and Reed wagons) through their mishaps and mistakes (starting late, taking a shortcut, etc.) had to resort to cannibalism to make it.
“Tough Trains: The Transcontinental Railroad, USA”, traveler Zay Harding, Globetrekker, http://www.globetrekkertv.com, (2017), WETA UK
Evan Andrews, “10 Things That You Should Know About the Donner Party”, April 14, 2016, http://www.history.com
“Why Do We Have Time Zones?”, http://www.timeanddate.com.
“Railroads Create the First Time Zones”, November 18, 1883, http://www.history.com
Written by Rosa L. Griffin