Announcing a detailed new set of maps illustrating the evolution of the US railroad system and a blog about the Black Death...
Announcing our September Uploads
Our blog about the Black Death recalls a devastating pandemic, which resulted in an estimated 25 million deaths across Europe in the mid-14th century. We've also got something for railway buffs everywhere, with a brand new set of maps tracing the complex development of the US railroad network and examining its impact.
The Black Death
The bubonic plague, or Black Death, was transmitted to humans by rat-borne fleas. The contagion spread from the site of the bite to a lymph node causing a painful bubo, or swelling. Approximately 80 per cent of those infected died. The Black Death was introduced to Europe by the Mongols, who attacked an Italian trading station in the Crimea in 1346, and from there it was carried west in merchant ships. The disease was carried rapidly throughout Europe by its extensive trading networks, especially along maritime routes. Casimir the Great of Poland quarantined its borders, and this 'lockdown' greatly reduced the number of cases entering the country. This devastating pandemic bought economic, social and religious upheaval in its wake, and it took 200 years for population levels to recover.
Our new set of maps traces the development of the US railroad system, from the 1830s when the South Carolina Canal and Railroad company operated the first steam engine in the US to the 1970s. Our map of 1916, (top left) shows the US rail network at its peak, with a track mileage of over 254,000 miles. We also examine the fluctuating fortunes of different rail companies, such as the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, established in 1856 (top right), with the motto 'Everywhere West'.
The railroads are an integral part of US history from the Indian Wars (bottom left) of 1860–93, when the 'iron horse' of the railroad accelerated settlement and development, bringing devastation in its wake, to the US Civil War, when the railroads played a important role in the movement of men and material. Petersburg, Virginia (bottom right) was at the junction of five railroads, making it of vital strategic significance.