Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Impact on travel time from the transcontinental railroad and average transportation speeds

An exhibit at the Huntington Library called Visions of Empire: The Quest for a Railroad Across America, 1840-1880 had a display describing coast-to-coast travel time:

  • 6 months – before the trans-continental railroad. ( I think that was before the stage coach lines were in place.)
  • 1 week – after the railroad was completed

Twenty-six weeks versus one week. That would be a 96% reduction in travel time.

The exhibit also had a display listing the average speed of travel in miles per hour:

  • 3 mph – foot
  • 10 – horse – (obviously a single rider)
  • 4-7 – wagon – (multiple passengers and a large load)
  • 5-10 – ship (no further explanation on the display – presumably this would be for sail driven ships of the mid 19th century)
  • 15 – train, mid-19th-century steam
  • 20-70 – automobile (obviously this would be into the 20th century)
  • 600 – airplane

The alternative to the train was a wagon.  An increase from 4 or 7 mph to 15 mph.  That is a doubling or tripling of travel speeds over an established route.

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