While I’ve been working on Camp NaNoWriMo (slowly, but surely is my motto this month!), I’ve come across some interesting research that I thought I’d share! This novel is Book 2 of my Colton Fen series, and takes place in the 1890s. My characters first have to take a train from western Texas to New Orleans, which at the time took 3 days. (If you want to see the detailed research I had to dig up for that calculation, check out my post on Maps and Trains of the 1880s,probably one of the most popular posts on this blog).
Here’s a quick run-down:
- Traveling on an Emigrant Train, 1879 – Omg, is that David Thewlis I see on the side there?
No, it’s just Robert Louis Stevenson, the same gent who penned Treasure Island. (Maybe I’ve been watching too much Harry Potter lately? Nah!) It turns out he also documented his train ride from Chicago to California to be with a married woman ten years his senior who he was madly in love with. He talks about the newsboy, who goes around selling books, fruit, lollipops, and cigars on the trains. He ended up being given the nickname of Shakespeare. Most notably he talks about the difficulty of bathing on the train.
There he knelt down, supporting himself by a shoulder against the woodwork; or one elbow crooked about the railing, and made a shift to wash his face and neck and hands-a cold, an insufficient, and, if the train is moving rapidly, a somewhat dangerous toilet.
I was looking for details on how toilets were used on trains, but this was the closest I got. Certainly quite useful all the same, and it makes me glad for the conveniences we have today.
- 3 Ways to Survive a Dust Storm or a Sandstorm – Now you might think that sandstorms don’t happen in western Texas, but you would be very wrong. In fact there’s video of one that just happened a couple of years ago.
Oh and here’s a photo from one rolling into Midland, Texas in 1894. It’s terrifying just seeing it from inside a building with glass windows. I can’t imagine what it must have been like back then.
Either way, it can’t hurt to know how to survive one of these things, right? Oh and those people driving in the sandstorm still probably didn’t read the section about how to survive when you’re in a car. They’re a rare occasion in Texas at least, thank goodness.
These are just a couple of teasers on the sort of things I’ve been writing about!