Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/771

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THE ELECTRIC RAILWAY.

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be such a horrible thing as a collision between two ponderous trains, not only because of the lightness of the electric cars, but also because they do not carry steam and fire as locomotives do. Another advantage of the lightness of the cars lies in the fact that they will exert less "wear and tear" upon the tracks, and therefore occasion less outlay for repairs.

When the present mode of traveling in Pullman cars is compared with the mode in use not very long ago, by which people were cramped for hours and even days in a coach without springs worth calling by that name, and were jolted and tossed about over uneven roads, we conclude that traveling at the present time is a very luxurious thing. But what will it be when we can sit at an open window, and glide along at the rate of sixty miles an hour, without the fear of smoke or cinders; when electric bells are at hand leading to the inaccessible retreats where porters now secrete themselves safe from discovery; when we can start from our homes to take a car for Boston, as we now start to take an elevated train, knowing that, if we miss one car, another will be soon at hand; when electric incandescent lamps, which can not, in case of accident, scatter burning oil in all directions, shall fill the car with a mild and steady light; when dispatches can be received on board a train in motion as well as at an office; when the cars shall be heated and meals prepared by electric stoves which can not, in case of accident, set fire to the car—all the electricity needed for these and numberless other purposes being derived from the same convenient source—the conductor carrying the current which furnishes the propelling power?

That any such ideas as to what electricity can accomplish are visionary and impracticable may seem to be the case to some; that they are so in reality is not believed by many who have given the subject impartial study. Some of these believe that, in the very near future electric cars will supplant horse-cars; and upon short lines like elevated roads, steam-locomotives; but that it will not be practicable for many years to run electrical cars upon long lines. Such may be the case. But it should be remembered that, in most instances in the history of industrial progress, the practical developments of meritorious systems have surpassed in rapidity and extent the expectations of even impartial men. A very high scientific authority in England once spoke very favorably of the idea of using steam-vessels for accomplishing short distances, and for river navigation, but laughed heartily over the suggestion of their ever going to sea, and offered publicly to eat the boilers and engines of the first one that should cross the Atlantic. Probably there are not many men who, in the light of what has recently been accomplished, would promise to eat the motor of the first electric car that should run from New York to Chicago.