I Hear the Train a Comin’

Hallidie U.S. Patent 110,971For more than two centuries, trains have traversed the American landscape altering how and where people live and work. This is why, in 2008, Amtrak created National Train Day to be celebrated on the Saturday closet to May 10th, the anniversary of the pounding of the Golden Spike in Promontory, Utah which marked the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

The first locomotive was built in 1804 by a Cornish inventor named Richard Trevithick. It was powered by steam. A steam locomotive burns fuel, usually coal. The heat then passes though tubes inside a large water-filled boiler creating steam. The steam then passes through high-pressure tubes to cylinders which engage piston rods connected to the locomotive’s wheels, thus driving the train.1

The steam engine remained popular until the early 1900s when diesel and electric began replacing it. A German mechanical engineer, Rudolf Diesel, invented the diesel-powered locomotive. A diesel engine operates when a cylinder piston squeezes and heats air trapped inside; at the top of the stroke, the system injects oil; the air and oil mixture burns and drives the piston down which turns a crankshaft connected to a generator making eletricity for storage in large batteries. The wheels are powered by motors that draw from the batteries. 2

On January 17, 1871, Andrew Smith Hallidie, an American engineer and inventor, was granted a patent for an “improvement in endless wire ropeways” which became the basis for the first cable car system.3 Soon, however, electricity changed city transportation. In 1897, Boston opened an electric subway system. New York City soon followed in 1904. The all-electric locomotive requires either an overhead pickup or a third-rail carrying a high-voltage of electricity to power the engine. Electric trains are easier and cheaper to maintain and last longer than diesels.4

Now coming down the track are hybrid trains which use a battery to store energy temporarily for when the train is idling or stationary; “bullet trains” which run on steel rails at accelerated speeds; magnetic levitation trains which hover above rails suspended by powerful magnets; and the futuristic Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s vision for transporting people in high speed capsules through a series of tubes.

The world’s fastest passenger train, the Maglev, owned by the Central Japan Railway Company, made history last month by hitting a top speed of 366 mph surpassing its previous record of 361 mph set in 2003.

The Federal Railroad Administration was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. The U.S. agency regulates the manufacturing and safety of the train transportation industry. A few of the more widely known train manufacturers are National Railway Equipment Company (NREX) headquarted in Mt. Vernon, IL. This company is known for its N-ViroMotive engine which is used for light duty road switching in yards and urban areas where noise and exhaust emissions are to be reduced. GE Transportation Systems (GETS), a division of General Electric, is headquartered in Chicago while its main manufacturing plant is located in Erie, Pennsylvania. This company is the largest producer of diesel-electric locomotives. Its Dash9 series has an electronic fuel injector and a 4-stroke diesel engine.

GE Dash 9 Series. Source: Wikipedia

GE Dash 9 Series. Source: Wikipedia

Gomaco Trolley Company, located in Ida Grove, Iowa, manufactures trolley cars which look vintage but have state-of-the-art technology. Streetcars or cable cars are used in cities such as Portland, San Diego, San Francisco. Rapid transit commuter trains, known as the metro or subway, are a primary means of transportation in Atlanta, Washington D.C., and New York. U.S. Manufacture of Rail Vehicles for Intercity Passenger Rail and Urban Transit documents several companies which manufacture parts for high-speed, rapid transportation.







Train: riding the rails that created the modern world by Tom Zoellner.

Train: riding the rails that created the modern world by Tom Zoellner.

Sinclair, Angus. Locomotive Engine Running and Management, 21st edition. New York: J. Wiley & Sons, 1899, Engineering Library TJ607 .S6 1899

Wolmar, Christian. Blood, Iron & Gold: how the railroads transformed the world. New York: PublicAffairs, 2010. Engineering Library HE1021 .W78 2009

Zoellner, Tom. Train: riding the rails that created the modern world. New York: Viking, 2014. Engineering Library HE1021 .Z64 2014

Federal Railroad Administration. U.S. Department of Transportation


Facebook: National Train Day 2015

Brasor, Philip and Tsubuku, Masako. How the Shinkansen bullet train made Tokyo into the monster it is today. The Guardian, September 30, 2014

Vartabedian, Ralph. “Work starting on the bullet train; Construction begins Tuesday in Fresno on the first 29-mile segment of the $68-billion fast train..” Los Angeles Times. (January 5, 2015 Monday ): 1252 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2015/05/07.

Upbin, Bruce. Hyperloop is real: meet the startups selling supersonic travel. Forbes, March 2, 2015

Blood, Iron, & Gold by Chrisitan Wolmar

Blood, Iron, & Gold by Chrisitan Wolmar


1. Langone, John. The New How Things Work. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2004, p.84. Engineering Library FOLIO T47 .L2923 2004

2. Langone, John. The New How Things Work. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2004, pp.86-87. Engineering Library FOLIO T47 .L2923 2004

3. Hallidie, A.S. U.S. Patent 110,971. Improvement in Endless Wire Ropeways. Assigned January 17, 1871.

4. Langone, John. The New How Thinks Work. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Soceity, 2004, pp.88-91. Engineering Library FOLIO T47 .L2923 2004

Get ready for finals @Hardin Library with free coffee, free popcorn, longer hours, and therapy dogs!

Hardin Library wants you to succeed in your Spring Finals. 

photo from kristinhiggins.com

photo from kristinhiggins.com

The library is open later–until Midnight Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9.

Spend more time studying or finish up that group project.

We have lots of room.

picture of coffee, book, highlighter

photo by Furya @flickr

 Free coffee from 6pm Friday, May 8 –  8pm Friday, May 15!


photo by Alllsonmseward12 @Flickr

 Grab some popcorn Friday night and all day Saturday!
 reindeer Find our reindeer!

Ed will be hidden in the library each morning, starting on Monday, May 11 – Friday, May 15.
If you are the first person to find Ed, you win a Hardin Library coffee mug.

image by Zief @Flickr

image by Zief @Flickr

Pet a therapy dog!
Dogs will visit on Saturday, May 9 from 5-7pm.

Manage your references and speed up your writing with our EndNote Desktop workshop – Tuesday, May 5, 2-3pm

EndNote is a reference management tool that helps you to easily gather together your references in one place, organize them, and then insert them into papers and format them in a style of your choosing. This session will walk you through the basics of using EndNote to collect and format your citations. The class will be hands-on and there will be time for questions at the end.


Our next session is:
Tuesday, May 5, 2-3pm, Information Commons East, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences

No time for class?  Use our guide or request a personal training session.

Database of the Week: Global Commodities

Each week we will highlight one of the many databases we have here at the Pomerantz Business Library.

The database: Global Commodities: Trade, Exploration & Cultural ExchangeGlobal_Commodities

Where to find it: You can find it here, and under G in the databases A-Z list.

From their website: “This resource brings together manuscript, printed and visual primary source materials for the study of global commodities in world history.”

Use it to find:

  • Primary source material
  • Price data visualizations, Energy data visualizations, Interactive maps, Historical maps
  • Thematic areas include: Advertising & Consumption, Art & Literature, Cultivation, Ecology & Environment, Exploration & Discovery, Health & Welfare, Politics & Empire, Production, Social Practice, Trade & Commerce, and Transportation
  • Commodities explored include: Chocolate, Cotton, Coffee, Fur, Opium, Oil, Porcelain, Silver & Gold, Spices, Sugar , Tea, Timber, Tobacco, Wheat, Wine & Spirits.

















Tips for searching:

  • Use the tabs across the top to explore: Documents, the Chronology, Data & Maps, Visual Resources & Further Resources
  • Use the search bar in the top right hand corner
  • There are also Advanced Search and Popular Searches options





 Energy Visualization

Want help using Global Commodities? Contact Willow or Kim and set up an appointment.

We expect to start on our march to Washington in the morning

Joseph Culver Letter, April 29, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Reg. Ills. Vol. Infty.
Raleigh, N.C., April 29th 1865
My Dear Wife

We expect to start on our march to Washington in the morning at 5 o’clock, & though the last mail went out for the Corps, yet I will try & mail this in the 23d Corps which is to remain here for the present.1 It is raining to-night & bids fair to be a wet day to-morrow. I was in hope that we would rest until Monday morning [May 1], but, though we do not see it, doubtless the necessity exists for our immediate departure.

We are in good health & all ready for this our last campaign. The cannon have been booming at intervals of 30 minutes throughout the day, & all Officers of the Army assume the badge of mourning for 6 months. We have not yet learned the particulars of the negotiations. Many vague rumors are afloat, but we must wait until we get through to the north for more definite information.

Chris [Yetter] has not been well for a couple of days, but I think it is only a slight cold. Nate [Hill] has had headache for two days. Allen Fellows in playing with Billy Perry this evening received a severe cut in his hand from a knife Perry was whetting.2 His hand is doing quite well to-night, & I think will be well in a few days. I saw Bro. John Lee this evening at Church. We had a good meeting.

We were inspected & mustered to-day; only once more, & we hope to be done. Every day & every hour of the day, you may hear the boys talking of “Home Sweet Home.” I have been so busily engaged with papers that I could not enter into their enjoyment as much as I would like.

By the time this reaches you, we will be doubtless at Richmond, Va., or beyond it. I hope to receive several letters from you there. I would like very much if our house could be vacated so that we might go immediately to housekeeping on my return, yet I can give no definite idea of the time we will reach home. If convenient for Mr. Mathis, ask him to leave by the 1st of June.

It is getting quite windy, & the light will not last much longer, so I will close. Remember me kindly to all our friends. Tell Maggie Gutherie that I did not get time to answer her letter here. Kiss Howard for me. May the richest of Heaven’s blessings rest upon you & preserve us for future enjoyment in this life. With much love, I remain, Ever,

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. General Grant, on the 29th, wired Washington that four corps would march from Raleigh to Alexandria, passing near Richmond. General Mower, during the day, informed his XX Corps that they would “commence the march to-morrow.” The First Division would take the lead, followed by the Second and Third. Mower hoped the march would be so regulated that the corps would be across the Neuse when it halted for the night. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 345, 348.
  2. William W. Perry, a 20-year-old drayman, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. Private Perry was detailed as regimental ambulance driver on Dec. 2, 1862, and did not rejoin the company until May 5, 1864. On Aug. 28, 1864, he was detailed for duty in the regimental medical department, where he remained until mustered out on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D.C. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.

Patent Searching in Scopus

Similar to Web of Science, Scopus is a multidisciplinary database that covers journal articles, conference proceedings, and books and allows citation analysis. A lesser known feature in Scopus is patent searching. There are about 23 million patent records in Scopus, derived from five patent offices, including the US Patent & Trademark Office, the European Patent Office, the Japan Patent Office, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the UK Intellectual Property Office*.

For patent searching, conduct your search as you normally would either using the default Document Search or using other options such as Author Search and Affiliation Search. On the results page, you will see the number (7,655 in the example showed in the screenshot) of Documents Results listed on the upper left side of the screen. To the right of this number, there is a link that says “View 358 patent results”. This link will take you to a separate page with patents listed. Note that the patent link will only appear if there are patent results that matched your search terms.

Patent searching in Scopus screenshot

To know more about patents and how to find them, visit the Patent guide created at the Lichtenberger Engineering Library. You can also take a patent class at Hardin Library; for more information, visit the Hardin Open Workshops website at http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/workshop/.

*Source: Elsevier. Scopus Facts & Figure Factsheet. http://www.elsevier.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/148714/3859-Scopus-Facts-and-Figures-LO.pdf  Accessed April 28, 2015.

Calling All Sleuths! 2015 Nancy Drew Iowa Convention

Nancy Drew BungalowUniversity of Iowa Libraries, Special Collections Dept.

Come check out the 2015 Nancy Drew Iowa Convention, celebrating the 85th anniversary of Nancy Drew and the 110th anniversary of Iowa native and Nancy Drew author, Mildred Wirt Benson!

9:30am, Friday, May 1
University of Iowa Main Library, Room 2032.
This event is free and open to the public.

You can read about this event in the Iowa-City Press Citizen, and come learn even more about the life and work of Mildred Benson by exploring her papers at the Iowa Women’s Archives.

I closed up my last letter on Sunday night to go foraging

Joseph Culver Letter, April 26, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs., Co. “A”, 129th Ills.
In the fields near Holly Springs, N.C.
April 26th 1865
My Dear Wife

I closed up my last letter on Sunday night [the 23d] to go foraging. We left camp at 6 o’clock & moved in the direction of Cape Fear River. The country is much finer than any we have passed through lately. When we were 23 miles from the city, we recd. orders to return to camp immediately as our corps was to march early next morning.1 It was then 4 o’clock. We fed the train & started back, arriving in camp about 2 o’clock yesterday morning after 46 miles travel. We had 4 officers & 200 men of the Regt.

Early yesterday morning we broke camp & marched to this place. It is 13 miles from Raleigh & near Holly Springs. I have not seen the Springs yet. We will remain in camp to-day, but how much longer, I do not know.2

The rumors are so numerous & so vague that we have no idea of the condition of affairs. Genl. Grant is in Raleigh. We hear one hour that Johnson has surrendered which is discredited the next. Our movement in such haste rather implies an effort to intercept him if he attempts to turn our flank. We are marching light prepared for fight & are on half rations for 30 days. The boys are out foraging to-day to make up the deficiency.3 There has been a rumor afloat for the last two days that Genl. Sherman is relieved for halting at Raleigh & capitulating with Johnson instead of pressing forward. It will be a sad hour for this Army if it prove true.4

We met a great many of Lee’s army on their way home while we were out foraging Monday. I begin to think we have accomplished much more than we ever anticipated in this war, i.e., the subjugation of the South. Their spirit is certainly broken.

We are all in good health. This is a splendid country much resembling Northern Georgia. Large fine oak timber. It is a relief from the pine forests that have lined our march all the way through from Atlanta.

I recd. your letters of the 14th & 15th on my return Tuesday morning. I am happy to hear that your health is improving. Your letter of the 15th is the first intelligence I have recd. of Leander’s [Utley] success in his suit. Is he satisfied with the amount or does he value the mare at more; if so, find out the amount & I will pay it.

Father’s estate was settled April 1st, & the money should reach you by the 15th or 20th, yet it might be delayed a couple of weeks longer. Bro. John Miller will doubtless inform you when he pays over the money.5 If we stay here a few days & get fixed up a little, I will write again. Remember me kindly to our friends. Kiss Howard for me. May Our Father in Heaven bless you. Good Bye.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. General Grant, who hand carried the message from the government that the agreement Sherman had negotiated with Johnston and Breckinridge was unacceptable, had reached Raleigh on the morning of the 24th. Word was immediately sent by Sherman to Johnston, notifying him that “the truce or suspension of hostilities agreed to between us will in forty-eight hours cease after this is received at your lines.” Sherman at the same time notified his army commanders of the situation and alerted them to have their troops ready to resume the offensive at noon on the 26th. The movement against the foe would be governed by “the plan laid down in Special Field Order, No. 55, of date of April 14, 1865.” To facilitate operations, the army commanders on the 25th would marshal their corps ready to cross the truce line at the time indicated. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 208-09, 293, 295.
  2. The XX Corps, with the First Division in the lead, had marched at 7 A.M. to Jones’ Cross-Roads. This was on the road to Avens’ Ferry, where it was to cross the Cape Fear River at noon on the 26th. Ibid., pp. 297-98.
  3. On the evening of the 25th, Sherman had received a message from General Johnston, announcing receipt of Sherman’s dispatch of the 24th, reading “I am instructed to limit my operations to your [Johnston’s] immediate command and not to attempt civil negotiations, I, therefore, demand the surrender of your army on the same terms as were given General Lee at Appomattox.” It and a dispatch received the next morning indicated that Johnston was agreeable to an agreement for surrender on the terms drawn up by Sherman on the 18th for “disbanding this army, and a further armistice and conference to arrange these terms.” Sherman accordingly agreed to return to the Bennett House at noon on the 26th for another meeting with Johnston. This resulted in orders for the army commanders to suspend their advance across the truce line and for the troops to remain in camp until receipt of further orders. Ibid., pp. 294, 303-306.
  4. Although General Grant did not do so, he was under orders to supersede Sherman in command. Grant did not have the heart to tell his friend this, nor of the instructions from the War Department directing the troops in the South not to obey Sherman’s orders. Barrett, Sherman ‘s March through the Carolinas, pp. 267-68.
  5. For additional information about John Miller, see J.F.C.’s letter of February 10, 1865.

Database of the Week: Alexander Street Press Video

Each week we will highlight one of the many databases we have here at the Pomerantz Business Library.

The database: Alexander Street PressAlexxander_Street_Press

Where to find it: You can find it here, and under R in the databases A-Z list.

From their website: “Alexander Street Press is a publisher of award-winning online collections and videos for scholarly research, teaching, and learning.”

Use it to find:

  • Videos + audio, text, and web resources
  • Includes materials in the following disciplines: Social Sciences (Business & Economics, Educations, Psychology, Religion & Thought, etc.), Art & Design, Diversity Studies, Health Sciences, History, Literature & Language, Music & Performing Arts, Science & Engineering, etc.
  • Business & Economic topics include:  Consumer Behavior, Corporate Communication, Corporate Governance, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Human Resource Management, International Business, Marketing Strategy, Strategic Management, Supply Chain Management

Tips for searching:

  • Use the search bar at the top, and select a discipline from the drop down menu.
  • Browse by disciplines, collections, titles, publishers, playlists, or clips



Want help using Alexander Street Press? Contact Willow or Kim and set up an appointment.