Off The Rails November 13 2014

This print of government land grants is dense with information about railways, canals, and wagon roads. The map itself is neat-looking, but it's also surrounded by bar graphs, some of which contain pretty bewildering data.

First off, the bars for America, the United States, and Europe go waaay farther to the right. But let's have a look at those numbers. The United States, which saw a huge boom in railroad-building beginning in the 1830s, is the clear winner here, with 93,671 miles of railway in 1880. That's more than four times as much as Germany, its nearest competitor (with 20,991) and nearly as much as all of Europe put together (104,820).

So if you do the math (don't worry; I did it for you) it turns out that as of 1880, the U.S. had more than forty percent of the world's railways. And you could travel them in style, too: these were the days of the Pullman sleeping car.

For more on railways in 1880, check out the print!