Quick, what was the first transcontinental railroad? If you guessed the Union and Central Pacific’s combined route across the United States then I’m sorry, but technically you’re not correct. The original Panama Railway completed the first route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in 1855. I recently had an opportunity to ride the Panama Railway’s modern successor, the Panama Canal Railroad Company.
As a student at Ohio State, I take particular interest in our local railway history. Nothing is more local than a railway that runs right through the center of campus. While I was aware that at one point a long coal spur ran to the power plant, I never had been able to find the right resources to write a more substantial article.
That changed the other day when I discovered the Lantern’s on-line archive. The Lantern, Ohio State’s Student Newspaper, has been continuously published since 1881. I found a number of articles describing key features of the school’s private, industrial railroad and was able to piece together enough for this article.
This Friday is the premiere of the movie Unstoppable. Staring Denzel Washington, the movie tells the story of an unmanned runaway train and the attempts made to stop it. You can watch the trailer for the movie here. While there’s no doubt that inaccuracies will abound (it is Hollywood after all), it should be at least remotely entertaining.
What many of the general public do not realize, is that Unstoppable is a dramatic retelling of real life events. On May 15, 2001 CSX #8888 escaped from Stanley Yard in Toledo, OH. It quickly began a high-speed journey south along the Columbus Subdivision through the communities of Findlay, Bowling Green, and Kenton. The 47 car train reached speeds upwards of 50 miles per hour while authorities made multiple attempts to stop it. Eventually, through the actions of second locomotive and crew the train was safely brought to a stop, 2 hours and 66 miles later. Miraculously, there were no injuries.