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Uncle Sam takes a moment out of his busy day to bore a kid (and us) to death – Rails Across America

August 20, 2014


Not all that long ago we featured a little bit of railroad industry propaganda here on the blog, in the form of a slim newsprint comic entitled Railroads Deliver the Goods!. It was nothing more or less than what you’d imagine, i.e. fairly dry, rather straightforward agitprop cast in the four color form of sequential art, brought to you by the kindly people at the Association of American Railroads. It lacked one thing, though, which surely would drive home how red, white and blue and uncommunist railroads are. And that thing is a man — Uncle Sam!Rails Across America is a similar if slightly different summation of what sacred, holy creatures trains are. Whereas RDtG focused more on the gross tonnage hauled by the iron horse, this one is a history of trains and the roads they roar over. How does Uncle Sam come into this, you ask? He just shows up, that’s how:


Note to all wide-eyed children of America: Chances are the man who looks and is dressed like Uncle Sam who sneaks up behind you as you watch trains go by and who claims to be over a hundred years old isn’t actually Uncle Sam. He’s likely an eccentrically dressed hobo serial killer, who will in moments lure you back to his riverside lair, where he’ll chop you into pieces and feed you to mangy curs he’s adopted, named Lucifer and Blind Bob.

Fortunately for young Jimmie Wilson, this Uncle Sam is the real deal — or at least isn’t in a killing mood. He proceeds to go on a comic-long spiel detailing the evolution of the rails. I’ll admit that there were a few things in here that I didn’t know — for instance, that super-old-timey railroad cars looks like stagecoaches, which actually makes sense when you think about it. What else would they look like?:


Senses-shattering cameo by that defender and promoter of railroads, the Great Emancipator himself, rasslin’ Abe Lincoln:


Hey, we got our time zones from railroads:


And it goes on. And on. And on. There are moments when Uncle Sam almost morphs into Bubba from Forrest Gump, listing shrimp uses in a droning monotone:


Okay, enough, we get it! We’ll worship trains at the Union Pacific Church from now on, we promise!

Then, mercifully, it ends:


Railroads: blameless, holy creatures.

Jimmie made it through without being chopped to pieces or committing ritual seppuku. and the railroad industry has drilled some more factoids into fertile young American minds. Not sure if you can call it a great story, though. Sorry, Jimmie.

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