Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum


Rights & Permissions; Homework

Click on any image or link to ACCEPT the USER AGREEMENT.
Click any image or link to accept the User Agreement.

© 2014 CPRR.org. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the User Agreement which permits personal use web viewing only; no copying; arbitration; no warranty.

“Effect of Railroads on the Weather”
Credit Where Credit is Due?

Lightning Scene on the Prairies
From The Pacific Tourist, J. R. Bowman, 1882, p. 83.

With the opening of the Pacific Railroad on May 10, 1869, the nation’s press soon began giving credit to the newly completed transcontinental artery of commerce and western emigration for almost every improvement in the nation’s economy, development, and national life that occurred in the months and years that followed. Much of that credit was clearly deserved, of course -- but not all.  An amusing example of such misplaced “credit” is the following item which appeared in Boston six months after the railroad opened.  —BCC

From the Boston Traveller, November 30, 1869

The opinion seems to be gaining strength that the Pacific Railroad is working a great change in the climate of the Plains.  Instead of continuous droughts, all along the railroad rain now falls in refreshing abundance. This result has been remarked upon in other sections of the West.  In Central Ohio, it is said, the climate has been completely revolutionized since iron rails have formed a network all over that region.

Instead of the destructive droughts formerly suffered there, for some four or five years these has been rain in abundance — even more than enough to satisfy the wants of farmers.  The change is thought to be a result of an equilibrium produced in the electrical currents, which has brought about a more uniform dispensation of the rain.  It is a fact within the observation of all who remember ante-railroad times, that we have few or no such thunderstorms as we formerly had in New England.

The iron rails which touch and cross each other in every direction, serve as conductors and equalizers of the electrical currents, and so prevent the terrible explosions which used to terrify us in former years.  The telegraphic wires which accompany the iron rails everywhere, also act an important part in diffusing electricity equally through the atmosphere, thus preventing the occurrence of severe thunder storms.

Courtesy of Bruce C. Cooper Collection ;-)

Images courtesy of:

Copyright © 2000, CPRR.org.  All Rights Reserved.  [Last Updated 9/3/2000]
Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the User Agreement;
Click any image or link to accept.