May 05 201679 Cecelia Otto on the Music of the Lincoln Highway

Before the interstate highway system spread over the US, the country was knit together through a network of railroads and auto trails. One of the longest of these was the Lincoln Highway, a coast-to-coast collection of roads that linked New York to San Francisco at the dawn of the 20th century, and could take weeks for early automobiles to traverse. Given that this was a huge tract of land, people wrote songs about it.

Cecelia Otto is a classically trained singer who recently toured the remains of the Lincoln Highway and performed turn-of-the century popular music about the highway at various venues along the way. Otto wrote a book about and released an album after the tour, and is currently crowdfunding a project on the songs of World War I. I talked to her about her experience, how you crossed the country in an old automobile, and how popular music was distributed before electronic recording.

CeceOtto

Jan 22 201514 Nellie Bly Versus Phileas Fogg

Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days is not strictly science fiction, but it is a book that speculates about technology (specifically steamships and railroads) and what it’s capable of. Verne’s 1973 novel made the eighty day time look like something of an impossible feat, but in 1890 Nellie Bly, a reporter for the New York World beat fictional record set by Phileas Fogg. Bly set out to best Verne’s protagonist, and circumnavigate the globe in 75 days. She did even better than that, though, and went all the way around the planet in 72 days, doing Fogg better by more than a week.

The World front page

Related Links:

Read Around the World in 72 Days online.

Phineas Fogg Outdone in the Daily Alta California

View a┬ámap of Bly’s journey from American Experience.