Have you ever considered the invention of the train and how it revolutionized the world?

I never have.  But, consider this:


On a hot August day in 1837, Queen Marie-Amélie—wife of the French King Louis-Philippe—two of her daughters, assorted ministers, and other dignitaries gathered at the newly built embarcadère de Tivoli, at the northern limits of Paris….[They boarded a train and] the train pulled away from the platform and out of Paris, soon speeding through the countryside on the 13 mile, 26 minute journey to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

It was the maiden voyage of France’s first passenger railway line, the most visible sign that the Industrial Revolution had come to Paris. Those on board were fascinated by the experience.

Each of the travelers in the car in which we were sitting expressed his impressions in his own way.

One was surprised that, despite such speed, it was as easy to breathe as if we were walking slowly on the ground; another was in ecstasy at the idea that he sensed no movement and felt as though he were sitting in his bedroom; yet another noted that it was impossible to have the time to distinguish, from three feet, on the sand, an insect of the size of a bee, or to recognize the face of a friend; and finally another noted with glee the surprised attitude of the country people upon the passing of this column of smoke and this long succession of cars without horses, sliding along with a slight buzz, and disappearing in the distance almost immediately.

Others, more grave, declared that the good that would come of this invention was incalculable.

The first major intercity lines, from Paris to the city of Rouen, in Normandy, and to Orléans, south of Paris, were inaugurated on two successive days in May of1842.



Kirkland, Stephane. Paris Reborn, St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.

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