Railway Economy: a treatise on the new art of transport (New York, 1850).

According to the dealer’s description, this is the first edition of possibly the most comprehensive book ever written on railways.  The author, Dionysius Lardner (1793-1859) was an Irish-born professor, polymath and prolific writer on astronomy, economics, natural philosophy, and electricity.

Lardner begins with a brief history of transportation through the ages and then focuses on trains, providing many tables and statistics.  He leaves out no detail of railway systems in America, Europe, and the U.K., from the cost of building particular lines, to the operation of the boilers, to the behavior of passengers in stations, to the odds of being killed per mile traveled.  He concludes with a chapter on the politics of railways, a discussion similar to those of today relating to funding of ownership of roads and the Internet.


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