Opinions of railroad expansion viewed through the medium of song.
Although the first rail lines were built over 150 years ago, the railroad continues to remain an integral part of American society. Often, historical studies of the railroad overlook the songs that developed as a reaction to this new technology. It is my belief that these songs provide another medium for viewing the context in which the railroad was built. Today, railroads are met with indifference in our society, but the "Iron Horse" was initially met with great enthusiasm. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the foremost philosopher and essayist of the time, eventually described the railroad as an involuntary blessing, and many songs generated from this era reflect this sentiment. With this in mind, the goal of this thesis aims to expose the reader to a selection of songs composed as a reaction to the railroad while placing them in the perspective of their historical context.