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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... the joining of the Central and Union Pacific railroads at Promontory Summit, Utah, 129 years ago. Will new high speed trains rekindle America's romance with railroads?


CURWOOD: A hundred and thirty years ago this month, a golden spike was hammered into a railroad track at Promontory Summit, Utah. The message engraved on the spike declares, "May God continue the unity of our country, as this railroad unites the two great oceans of the world." The joining of the Central and the Union Pacific completed a rail link across the continent and paved the way for settlement of the West. Today, the thrill is gone from America's romance with the train, and the car is king. But concerns over pollution and sprawl caused by cars and highways have sparked a renewed interest in rail. A recent surge in Federal funding has spurred plans for super-fast trains. Amtrak is scheduled to begin its high-speed service between Boston and Washington, DC, later this year. The train will be America's fastest, traveling up to 150 miles per hour. And California is considering a bullet train to click at speeds of up to 310 miles per hour. But for now, the fastest train in the world is in Japan, the magnetic levitation or maglev train. Its top speed: 340 miles per hour. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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