What was thought of Rail Roads Forty years ago.
The following Letter, in reply to a suggestion about Rail Roads, written forty years ago, by Chancellor Livingston, who had been associated with his Brother-in-Law, Robert Fulton, in application of steam to Vessels, shows the state of improvement of that day:
Albany, March 11, 1811
"Dear Sir: - I did not till yesterday receive yours of the 25th of February; where it has loitered on the road I am at a lost to say. I had before read of your very ingenious proposition as to the railway communication. I fear, however, on mature reflection, that they will be liable to serious objection, and ultimately more expensive than a canal. They must be double, so as to prevent the danger of two such heavy bodies meeting. The walls on which they are placed, must be at least four feet below the surface, and three above, and must be clamped with iron, and even then would hardly sustain so heavy a weight as you propose moving at the rate of four miles an hour on wheels. As to wood, it would not last a week. They must be covered with iron, and that too, very thick and strong. The means of stopping these heavy carriages, without great shock, and of preventing them from running upon each other - for there would be many running upon the road at once -would be very difficult. In cases of accidental stop, or the necessary stops to take wood and water, &c. , many accidents would happen. The carriage of condensing water would be very troublesome. Upon the whole I fear the expense would be much greater than that of canals, without being so convenient. R. R. Livingston.