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Appendix B. Frank Julian Sprague Honors and Awards

William D. Middleton Indiana University Press ePub


Gold Medal, Paris Exposition, 1889, “presented to the Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company for the most perfect system of Electric Rail Way Equipment.”

Elliott Cresson Medal, The Franklin Institute, 1904, for the development of the multiple unit system of electric traction.

Grand Prize, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, 1904, for Invention and Development on Electric Railways.

Edison Medal, American Institute of Electrical Engineers, 1910, “for Meritorious Achievement in Electrical Science, Electrical Engineering, or the Electrical Arts.”

The Franklin Medal, The Franklin Institute, 1921, “in recognition of his many and fundamentally important inventions and achievements in the field of electrical engineering; notably contributions to the development of the electric motor and its application to industrial purposes, and in the art of electric traction, signally important in forming the basis of world-wide industries and promoting human welfare.”

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Neil Peart ECW Press ePub


JUNE 2012

MY FIRST PRINCIPLE OF ART IS “Art is the telling of stories.” What might be called the First Amendment is “Art must transcend its subject.” However, sometimes art’s natural subject—life—transcends even the mightiest attempt at conveying it.

Despite the love and respect I have for words, I know too well that there are occasions for which words are, alas, hopelessly inadequate. Even the combination of words and pictures, as I have worked into these stories for some years, has its limits. There are depths and heights of experience and emotion that the most accomplished arts of man only rarely capture.

Grief is one; joy is another.

But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And a moment like the one above must be one more example—in two senses: in the surreality of the circumstances, and in my own failure to speak as eloquently as I wished I could. I tried, but … words failed.

It was the evening of April 11, 2012, at the Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. The occasion was the Revolver magazine Golden Gods Awards, at which Rush was presented with the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award.

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6 Frank Sprague and the Multiple Unit Train

William D. Middleton Indiana University Press ePub

In 1890 when Frank Sprague turned his attention to the development of highspeed electric elevators, he had by no means given up his interest in electric railroads. As early as his 1882–1883 visit to London, he had developed ideas for the electrification of the city’s steam-powered subway. In 1885 he had developed and presented a plan for the electrification of New York’s steam-powered elevated lines, and by 1886 had developed and tested electric equipment for the Els. With the elevated companies still not interested in electrification, he had turned his attention to street railway electrification, which led to his great success at Richmond and a boom in electric railways in the latter 1880s. By 1890 he was pursuing opportunities for electrification of elevators.

But Sprague did not set aside his interests in rapid transit for long. By 1891, New York’s Board of Rapid Transit Commissioners was struggling with the problem of extending the already existing elevated railway system or beginning the development of an entirely new subway system. Frank Sprague, in a long interview with the Commercial Advertiser on February 16, 1891, spelled out how he believed the city could best solve the increasing urgency of an expanded transit system. New York, he said, should build a four-track independent way and express tunnel service, using electricity as a motive power, which he assured the reader would “be capable of satisfying in the highest degree the most exacting demands of the service.”1

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13 The End

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

So things stood as the twentieth century rolled around. Although inert, overgrown, and mostly forgotten, the South Pennsylvania Railroad still existed with its original charter intact, and thus still potentially dangerous to the Pennsylvania should some outsider manage to get his hands on it. While Jay Gould himself was no longer a threat, having died in 1892, his son George was proving to be a large piece of loose artillery, with grandiose dreams of expanding his father’s holdings into a coast-to-coast empire. By the early 1900s the junior Gould and his allies were building a railroad into Pittsburgh from the west, acquiring the Western Maryland as a future connection to the East Coast at Baltimore, and were also maneuvering to get into Philadelphia. Even forgetting Gould, the age of competitive railroad building was not quite over, and some other poacher might always show up for a try. (And in fact, the dream of a new trans-Pennsylvania railroad was still alive in 1925, when Delaware & Hudson Railroad president Leonor Loree proposed building a “super railroad” across the state, although on a different route from the South Penn’s.) Still, the Pennsylvania Railroad could do nothing on its own to put the company out of its misery. The best it could do legally was to claim ownership of the two segments just mentioned, but even that was not assured protection; the PRR’s subsidiaries had done nothing with the properties, and if a revived South Penn came back, it might be able to reassert its charter rights.

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13 Booted Off the Property

RushJr. Loving Indiana University Press ePub

As he had watched Penn Central unravel from his post at the Federal Railway Administration, Jim McClellan had continued exploring ways to relieve Penn Central of its passenger losses. He and the staff of the ICC had found that while the railroads were overstating the losses, the railroad labor unions and politicians who advocated continuing passenger trains were understating them by a significant margin. Moreover, not only Penn Central but all the nation’s railroads were losing more and more cash every month on passenger services.

Their report had been sent to Congress in July 1969, sparking a Senate hearing two months later when Stuart Saunders had traveled down to urge immediate government action. Some senators had responded with open skepticism. “This house is on fire now, and it has been on fire for some time!” Saunders had retorted.

The problem was lack of revenue and high costs. The railroads had a market share of only 7.5 percent, and train after train was leaving the station nearly empty. For example, two Penn Central trains between Harrisburg and Buffalo were carrying an average of only 17 passengers apiece. Just after its merger, Penn Central was allowed to discontinue two trains that ran between St. Louis and the Indiana/Ohio border that carried an average of only seven passengers a day at a loss of more than a half-million dollars a year. The passenger business had once been as profitable as it was glamorous. Twenty-six percent of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s operating revenues in 1900 had come from passenger service. Except for those people who journeyed by river or coastal steamer, the railroad industry’s market share of intercity travelers had been essentially 100 percent. Forty years later, private automobiles had accounted for nearly 90 percent of the mileage traveled by intercity passengers, and railroads had provided only 7.5 percent. Cars would retain pretty much that share of the market for the decades to come.

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