Monday, July 27, 2009

America's Resourceful Railroad

Doing a lot of research for a possible article on electrification has taught me so much about how green the westward extension was.  It is amazing how inventive Laurence Wylie was in creating electrification.  To me, I see electrics as a type of hybrid car, both are friendly to the environment.  The Milwaukee Road was ahead of its time with electrics and going green.  I am sure the first thing on their minds was the amount of time and money going to be saved.  However, fast forward 95 years and the Road would be praised for what their doing to help the environment.  It is nice to see hoe creative people were.  Bill Brautigam was another legend on the electrification line.  I think he stole the thunder from Wylie when he invented regenerative braking.  It wows me how inventive they were in the early 1900's, but maybe that is just me being naive.  The braking system was able to put 40-60% of energy back into the trolley wires when descending a grade.  I read that on a trip the Road only had to pay $1.66 because so much energy was returned.  I yet again think and have to compare this to a hybrid car and could be compared to solar panels (since both are all natural).  After being part of the Milwaukee Road for almost 60 years it was sad to know it came to an end.  I can see where people were going when members decided to move into the diesel era.  Milwaukee Road members felt that having to repair the electrification lines and upgrade them would be too costly.  Many felt that the elimination of electrification led to the final downfall of the Road.  Members felt they would save more money, but in the end it did not make a big difference since new diesel engines had to be purchased.  If we could only see into the future and what electrics did to help out environment it would be amazing.  I like to believe that the Milwaukee Road paved the way for all the electric trains today.  If you have ever been to Europe then you probably know a lot of their train system is ran on electrification, lets sure hope they said thank you to the Road!  Some might like to think the electrics system was the best years on the Road.  For me the electrics simply make me think of the Road as America's resourceful railroad.

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