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Posts Tagged ‘railroad’

Today we have a variety of jobs and careers, just like they did a hundred years ago. It is difficult to detail all of the jobs back then. I will discuss a few of the more prevalent ones that seem to have disappeared or diminished greatly with the passage of time.

There were still many professionals—such as lawyers and doctors—but not to the extent we have today. Fewer people went on to obtain a college degree.

Inside a Textile Mill

Textile Mills—these were very common in the south. During the industrial revolution in the late 19th Century textiles exploded. This was the ability to make clothes with a machine and not just by hand. Children would leave school at a young age {3rd, 4th, 5th grade} to work in the weaving room. It was also common to find many women working in the mills. My grandparents and great-grandparents did this work and I’ve heard many stories about their experiences through the years.

A normal day farming

Farming—was still very prevalent in the early 20th Century. Large families still existed and each child had their own chores each day. This was in the days before the local supermarket, when you had to rely on your land to supply most of your needs. This would include chickens for eggs and meat, cows for milk, and vegetables and grain planted and harvested throughout the year.

A Mine

Mining—this exploded in the late 19th Century and many prospectors moved out west for the California Gold Rush. Mining wasn’t just for gold, but for other items such as coal, silver, copper, and lead. It also just wasn’t in California, but took place through many areas of the United States. Occasionally we still hear about mine cave ins and have a sense of the danger these men faced on a daily basis. In 1912 they did not have all of the machinery used today.

Laying Railroad Track

Railroad—the first railroad was opened in America in 1830. It exploded from 1850-1890. Even in 1912, they were still laying tracks and the railroad was still a major source of transportation of both passengers and hauling materials. As the rail system increased more track had to be laid and engineers were needed. I had a great-uncle and great-grandfather that made their living working for the railroad.

Vaudeville—this was the earliest start of what we know of as the stage. Vaudeville consisted of animals, dancers, singers, comedians, magicians, acrobats, jugglers, athletes and more. These groups traveled from town to town performing their shows. Vaudeville remained very popular until the 1930s. By the late 1890s, large houses had been established for the acts. It was said that if an act could succeed in Peoria, Illinois, then it could succeed anywhere. You’d hit the big time when you played at New York City’s Palace Theatre {The Palace}.

These are just a few of the occupations that have diminished with the passage of time. I’m sure there are many more, but at least this will give you an idea of how times have changed. What kind of work would you be doing 100 years ago?

A Vaudeville Advertisement

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Today, it is easy to get in our cars and go wherever we want. Depending on traffic and our destination we can often be there within minutes to hours. A century ago only the very rich had a vehicle. If you lived in a rural area, you were more likely to walk or take a horse and buggy into town. Let’s take a look at some of the modes of transportation commonly used a century ago.

1. Walking-—it was very common for people to walk. It cost nothing and you just need to go {as long as you’re physically able}. Children walked to school, mother’s walked to the store and to visit with neighbors. Towns were often in clusters and the people lived close by. If you lived in town you didn’t have far to go, and many of those that lived on the outskirts of town were only a mile or two away.

John Jacob Astor walking with his dog

2. Horse and buggy-—horse and buggy were still one of the common forms of transportation. A man could easily saddle up and head to town. If he was taking the family with him, he would hitch the horses to a buggy. If you wanted to visit a nearby town or haul materials nearby, the horse and buggy was the perfect means of transportation.

old time Horse and Buggy

3. Bicycles—-bicycles were also another form of transportation that was available at this time. You most likely found them more in large cities. In the smaller, Southern towns where many worked in the mills they were not able to afford a bicycle.

1912 bicycle

4. Cars—-1912 was the last year the high-wheel motor buggy was in it’s heyday. It resembled the horse and buggy of the previous century. It was quickly replaced by the Ford Model T. These early vehicles had a pedal based control system. Ford produced 22% of the cars during this decade, with a rate of 26,000 per month. Only the rich were usually able to afford to own a vehicle of their own.

1912 Car

5. Ships—-ships were the common way to travel across the ocean. The most popular ship of 1912, was the Titanic. Many of the aristocrats were using it to return home from their travels abroad in Europe. However, most of those in third class were emigrating to the United States or Canada to start over and have a new life. Times were often hard in their homeland and they longed to make a better life for themselves and their children. The Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic, were the top of the line in luxury ships. Some said the accommodations in third class were as nice as second class and even first class on other ships. Ship travel was popular for both the traveling rich and the poor emigrant looking to improve his/her circumstances.

Titanic: Most Famous Ship of 1912

6. Railroad—-by the turn of the twentieth century the railroad had spread across the country. Many used this as a means of transportation across the country. My great-grandfather used it to move his growing family from Tennessee to South Carolina in 1905. For many years he used it to travel back and forth to visit with family. On one such trip he was talking with the man sitting beside him, only to discover the man was his brother he’d not seen in over thirty years. His brother came out each year after this to visit by using the railway.

Old Timey Train

We take the ease of transportation for granted today. Many of these modes were in their infancy a century ago. Other current standard modes, such as flying, were only accomplished by the birds. Some of these means of transportation have changed over the last decade. Today we walk, horseback ride and bike for exercise and enjoyment. A cruise or railroad journey are a luxury we indulge ourselves with. The horse and buggy are a thing of the past. If things have changed this much in the past century, what will transportation be like 100 years from now?

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