Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Connecting a Nation, More than Just Physically



Laying track for a railroad is obviously necessary, but it takes countless hours of hard labor. In this photograph, created by Townshend Phot. in 1890, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people constructing the framework for a railroad. This photo depicts the rolling hills of India and provides a good sense of the difficulty involved in the construction of a railroad. The amount of labor required to build this transportation mechanism is immense. However, connecting India, and the impacts that a railroad could have clearly motivated the people enough to complete the great task. This photo represents the workers’ ability to work as a group, carrying large chunks of track and connecting the track to a tough landscape. The construction of a railroad in India, and linking this nation represents a larger theme. Unifying India is constantly seen as an issue, and this railroad represents a critical link in achieving this great task.




The construction of railroads in Mexico is portrayed as very advanced. This image, created by Schlattman Hermanos in 1897, is part of a series titled “Inaugural celebration of the Mexico, Cuernavaca and Pacific Railway”. This collection is quite important to Mexico’s history in the late 19th century, especially when it is tied to the idea of colonization. Throughout Spain’s dominion over Mexico, transportation and travel was always an issue. In this picture, workers and other Mexicans are portrayed as accomplished. By the way the men are standing and dressed, it is easy to tell that they are proud of these beautiful trains, not only because of the practicality of trains at the time, but also the idea of connecting Mexico. As the nation tries to break all ties from its former name “New Spain”, connecting all of Mexico is crucial, and this photograph shows how the new railroad system will provide this connectivity. The “Presidential Train” in this photo is large, and is decorated to fit its grand name. Also, these trains seem to be much more advanced than those in India, another nation that is trying to shake off the heavy colonization that it had been through.

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