Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

The Railroads


[Bengal-Nagpur Railroad Construction, Photograph No. 9]  by J.C. Townshend

This picture illustrates roughly 10-13 people during a long, day constructing a railroad tunnel. We can see some of the workers hold tools such as hammer type tool and others on the move as the photo was taken. There are tons of supplies necessary for the job, as there are wood planks, bricks, baskets and other materials scattered around the building site. Judging from this picture, I would believe that the two lighter skinned men are in charge or supervising because of the era of this picture and they are also dressed very differently from the others. As we can easily see they are many levels to building the cave and the track inside as there are ladders leading to many different stories of the cave.

Looking at this picture the following questions came to mind. Were they made to work on the railroad or is it a job in exchange for currency? And how efficient are these men while they are working? Do they need more workers to help?

Torreon and Lerdo Electric Ry by Charles Betts Waite

From this picture, we can take away the true popularity of this constructed railroad system because of the fully packed couple of cars sitting at the station waiting to depart. It looks fairly simply to operate as we only see two men dressed in the conductor uniform meaning there isn’t a big crew needed to drive the train. One of the men looks as if he is checking tickets or helping people in and off. Judging by the people sitting inside the train cars, they look of lighter skin, meaning the train was probably meant for the wealthier and higher class. The town around the train looks fairly empty as the only thing covering the surrounding environment, besides the one building in the back that might be the station, is a bunch of trees and bushes showing us the train isn’t running through a town.

Looking at this picture, the following questions came to mind. Where are these people headed? How difficult is it to get a spot on board?

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