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Jump Back in Time The New Nation (1790-1828)
 
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Byron Coffin sings "Casey Jones" in 1939

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First U.S. Railway Chartered to Transport Freight and Passengers
February 28, 1827

Baltimore and the Ohio River were connected by rail in 1852, when the B&O was completed at Wheeling, West Virginia. Later extensions brought the line to Chicago, St. Louis, and Cleveland. In 1869, the Central Pacific line and the Union Pacific line joined to create the first transcontinental railroad. Pioneers continued to travel west by covered wagon, but as trains became faster and more frequent, settlements across the continent grew larger and more quickly.

Train travel continues to hold a romantic appeal for many people. Songs, stories, poems and plays have been written about the railways. Here you can listen to Byron Coffin sing about engineer Casey Jones and his fateful last ride on the rails.

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AUDIO CREDIT: Coffin, Byron, Sr., vocals, and Mrs. Byron Coffin, Sr., piano. "Casey Jones," Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell, April 6, 1939. California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties, American Memory collections, Library of Congress.