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Jump Back in Time Gilded Age (1878-1889)

A screen shot from 'Fast Mail Northern Pacific Railroad.'

Watch the Northern Pacific Railroad speed across the country in "Fast mail, Northern Pacific Railroad" from 1897

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Four Standard Time Zones for the Continental U.S. Were Introduced
November 18, 1883

Before the U.S. had time zones, how did people traveling across the country know what time it was? Until the invention of the railway, it took such a long time to get from one place to another, that local "sun" time could be used. When traveling to the east or to the west, a person would have to change his or her watch by one minute every 12 miles in order to always have the correct time.

When people began traveling hundreds of miles in a day by train, calculating the time became a problem. Railroad lines needed to create schedules for departures and arrivals, but every city had a different time!

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VIDEO CREDIT: Edison Manufacturing Co. “Fast mail, Northern Pacific R. R. / Thomas A. Edison, Inc. ; producer, James White.,” 1897. Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress. Call Number Box 7077 LC 45.