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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19171

Title: Railroad Crossings: The Transnational World of North America, 1850-1910
Authors: Berkowitz, Christine Ann
Advisor: Halpern, Rick
Department: History
Keywords: labour
North America
Issue Date: 1-Mar-2010
Abstract: The last quarter of the nineteenth century is often referred to as the “Golden Age” of railroad building. More track was laid in this period in North America than in any other period. The building of railroads was considered synonymous with nation building and economic progress. Railway workers were the single largest occupational group in the period and among the first workers to be employed by large-scale, corporately owned and bureaucratically managed organizations. While there is a rich historiography regarding the institutional and everyday lives of railway workers and the corporations that employed them, the unit of analysis has been primarily bounded by the nation. These national narratives leave out the north-south connections created by railroads that cut across geo-political boundaries and thus dramatically increasing the flows of people, goods and services between nations on the North American continent. Does the story change if viewed from a continental rather than national perspective? Railroad Crossings tells the story of the people and places along the route of the Grand Trunk Railroad of Canada between Montreal, Quebec and Portland, Maine and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (and later of the Southern Pacific) between Benson, Arizona and Guaymas, Sonora. The study first takes a comparative view of the cross-border railroad development followed by a consideration of emerging patterns and practices that suggest a broader continental continuity. The evidence demonstrates that this broader continental continuity flows from the application of a certain “railroad logic” or the impact of the essence of railroad operations that for reasons of safety and efficiency required the broad standardization of operating procedures that in many ways rendered place irrelevant.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19171
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of History - Doctoral theses

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