Transportation

The Donner Summit tunnels and 13 others in the Sierra Nevada built by Chinese railroad workers remain a testament to ingenuity and industry. 

The Quest to Protect California's Transcontinental Railroad Tunnels

Built by Chinese immigrants in the 1860s, the caverns cutting through Donner Summit helped unite the country

Bound for Chicago with a hold full of Christmas trees, the Rouse Simmons was lost with all hands in a November gale in 1912.

The Newest National Marine Sanctuary Is in Lake Michigan. Here's How to Explore It

Covering 962 square miles, the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary includes 36 known shipwrecks

Surveys yielded numerous burial sites along the planned train route.

Cool Finds

Thousands of Pre-Hispanic Structures Found Along Route of Controversial Railway in Mexico

Critics of the planned high-speed railroad point to its potential damage to archaeological sites and the environment

Chinese railroad workers near the Secret Town Trestle in Placer County, California, around 1869

Cool Finds

Artifacts Used by Chinese Transcontinental Railroad Workers Found in Utah

Researchers discovered the remains of a mid-19th century house, a centuries-old Chinese coin and other traces of the short-lived town of Terrace

Barbara Kruger's rendering of exhibition entryway at the Art Institute of Chicago, 2011/2020

Major Barbara Kruger Exhibition Spills Out Into the Streets of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago's new show adorns the city's buses, trains, billboards and more with the feminist artist's creations

An early example of stylish appeal: the 1940 Chevrolet 
half-ton.

The Rugged History of the Pickup Truck

At first, it was all about hauling things we needed. Then the vehicle itself became the thing we wanted

An installation view of "Automania" at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. The red car in front is a Cisitalia 202 GT Car (1946) designed by Italian firm Pininfarina; the green car in the background is a German "Beetle," a.k.a. a Volkswagen Type 1 Sedan (1949).  The lithograph on the wall is Watch the Fords Go By (1937) by A. M. Cassandre.

How the Automobile Changed the World, for Better or Worse

New MoMA exhibition explores artists' responses to the beauty, brutality and environmental devastation of cars and car culture

Visionary executive William Barstow Strong led the second transcontinental line, the Santa Fe, in the 1880s, paving the way for thousands of miles of track.

How the Santa Fe Railroad Changed America Forever

The golden spike made the newspapers. But another railroad made an even bigger difference to the nation

Before the highway's construction, Claiborne Avenue was known for its towering oaks.

The Highway That Sparked the Demise of an Iconic Black Street in New Orleans

Claiborne Avenue was a center of commerce and culture—until a federal interstate cut it off from the rest of the city in the 1960s

Passengers ride the New York City subway on May 24, 2021.

New Research

Thousands of Unknown Microbes Found in Subways Around the World

A team of more than 900 scientists and volunteers swabbed the surfaces of 60 public transit systems

"You can never safely operate a flying bomb," says historian Dan Grossman.

Cool Finds

Watch Newly Resurfaced Footage of the Hindenburg Disaster

A PBS documentary investigates the cause of the infamous 1937 explosion that tanked the airship industry

Virgin's hyperloop system uses magnetic levitation technology to reduce friction and low-pressure sealed vacuums along the track that minimize air resistance.

Futures

Smithsonian's 'Futures' Exhibition to Feature Virgin Hyperloop's Record-Breaking Transportation Pod

Virgin Hyperloop's Pegasus vehicle will be on display for viewers to take a closer look at its interior this fall

The Dollar lift was 2,360 feet long and rose 634 feet in elevation.

How a Railroad Engineer From Nebraska Invented the World's First Ski Chairlift

The device was part of an elaborate plan on behalf of Union Pacific to boost passenger rail travel in the American West

(Top row) Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg, Barron Ryan, Arturo Elizondo, (middle row) Samantha Pratt, Gitanjali Rao, Anitra Belle Henderson, (bottom row) Kennyjie, Andrea Ponti and Brett Phaneuf

Innovation for Good

Ten Innovators to Watch in 2021

These visionaries are imagining an exciting future with chicken-less eggs, self-piloting ships and more

A new chemical process uses an iron-based catalyst to turn carbon dioxide into jet fuel. So far the process has only been proven effective in lab settings, but if researchers can scale it up it could lessen the climate impact of air travel.

New Research

Scientists Use Iron to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Jet Fuel

If the chemical reaction at the heart of the process can be scaled up, it could help reduce the carbon footprint of air travel

Denali's dogsled teams mush for weeks at a time to the far-flung corners of a park that stretches over 6 million acres.

How Denali National Park's Sled Dogs Prepare for Winter

For nearly a century, park rangers have relied on dogsledding to patrol the public land and collect data for scientists

U.S. Air Force Captain Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound in this airplane, the Bell X-1, on October 14, 1947. The aircraft is currently housed at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Remember Chuck Yeager by Exploring the Plane He Flew to Break the Sound Barrier

In 1947, the pilot—who died Monday at age 97—made history by flying the Bell X-1 faster than the speed of sound

On November 2, a metro train shot through a stop block at the De Akkers metro station outside of Rotterdam but narrowly missed catastrophe.

In Fluke Accident, Sculpture of Whale Tails Saves Train From 33-Foot Plunge

Aptly named "Saved by the Whale's Tale," the art installation prevented a potentially deadly accident in the Netherlands

Pirsig’s 1966 Honda Super Hawk motorcycle, featured in his novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values.

Why Robert Pirsig's 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' Still Resonates Today

The author's meditation on technology treads a whole new path in the modern, digital world

A two-page spread in a 1903 Brooklyn Daily Eagle supplement shows an aerial depiction of the "Brooklyn of the Future," complete with ferry lines and projected bridges, subways, tunnels and elevated roads.

Virtual Travel

Explore Centuries of Brooklyn's History With These Newly Digitized Maps

The Brooklyn Historical Society recently launched a portal featuring almost 1,500 documents dating back to the 17th century

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