Sunday, 14 July, 2024

In the 200 years since trains first started clattering on the rails, they dramatically changed industry and commerce — and inspired technological innovations that changed the world.

But we like them because they’re romantic and comfortable, allow us to interact with other travelers, and are the most fun way to get out of town.

With the transcontinental railroad in the US — followed about 30 years later by the similar achievements in Canada and Russia — far-flung destinations were connected for the first time. Entire continents were opened up to new trading opportunities, not to mention that people could travel farther and faster than they ever had before.

The world got a bit smaller, but also far grander, and a new era in travel was born. Just about anyone could take a seat in a rail car and find themselves very shortly in a new place. But in just a few decades, luxury trains like the fabled Orient Express offered the curious and the posh opportunities to see the world in opulent comfort. No wonder there are so many great stories set aboard Pullman cars and steam engines.

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In this episode, we briefly explore train history and discuss why train travel might just be the best mode of transportation. Then we share five books we love that capture the innovation and adventure of trains around the world, including a visual encyclopedia, a stirring history, a noir thriller, a murder mystery, and a story of Dame Agatha Christie, but not the one you probably expect. (show notes / transcript)

recommended books

The Lady Vanishes

buy | read review

Nothing Like It In the World

buy | read review

The Train Book

buy | read review

The Woman on the Orient Express

buy | read review

The Woman on the Orient Express

buy | read review

The Edge

buy | read review

The Dining Car

buy | read review

Top image courtesy of olga che/Shutterstock.

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