Kid-Friendly History: Railroads and Trains!
Trains have shaped the world we live in since their emergence hundreds of years ago! From transporting food and goods to bringing people across entire continents, there is no doubted the importance of the technology associated with locomotives. Each train type serves a specific purpose, using various designs to meet the needs of whatever (or whoever) is aboard.
Because children are fascinated by the massive locomotives moving swiftly across tracks across the globe, we’ve created an all-in-one resource to feed your child’s imagination and help shed some light on the mystery of the railroad!
The First Railroads
In the mid-16th century, German engineers constructed a network on wooden rails designed to transport goods across the country. Dubbed “Wagonways” upon inception, these horse-and-cart driven railways helped to significantly reduce travel times, ensuring that items such as grain could quickly reach their destinations.
However, the Germans were not the first to conceive such a system, as the earliest rail systems have been dated to Ancient Greece. Over time, the concept developed into the trains that we see today! Designs such as “steam engines” played a HUGE role in the westward expansion of the United States.
For more information about early railroads and their impact on the modern world, explore these great resources:
Who is Driving the Train?
One is hard pressed to find a child who is not fascinated with the role of the engineer of a train. While the railway will help to guide the locomotive to its next destination, there are several tasks that require an engineer’s full attention. From monitoring the engine’s speed to ensuring that all of the various systems are performing properly, it is a very important job that requires precision and awareness.
Interested in learning more about train engineers? Check out these links to learn more:
Here is a GREAT video about a day in the life of an engineer:
Parts of a Train
At first glance, trains may look pretty simple: a track, an engine, and the links between cars, right?
But, don’t be fooled! Modern trains are actually quite complex, and have many components that all serve a specific purpose for the safety and effectiveness of the train. From diesel engines to electric alternatives, there are several variations on the classic train design.
For example, did you know that compressed air is what trains use to slow down? You didn’t? Well, then we recommend checking out the following pages for more information:
Fun Train Facts
Did you know…?
- Some trains use a second “engine” to PUSH the train from behind, in addition to the one pulling from the front.
- New train designs use magnets to “lift” the train from the track, eliminating friction and allowing for higher speeds during transit.
- The fastest train in the world is in France. Known as the TGV, it can reach speeds of 322mph (515km/hr).
- New York’s Grand Central Station is the largest train station in the world with 44 total platforms.
- More cargo is transported annually via train today than ever before!
There you have it – our history of trains! Now that you know the information, you’ll never look at the local train station the same way!