How Much Do You Know About Legendary Railways of the World?

John Miller

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Before railroads, moving people and products required difficult overland measures or ships, or often a combination of both. When railroads finally emerged in the 1800s, a new era opened possibilities for both business and continental travel. Do you think you really know much about the most famous railroads in the world?

Europeans were the masterminds behind many of the earliest trail systems. Their railways started by carrying cargo like coal, but quickly evolved to carry paying passengers, too. Can you name any of the first operational railways? Those forerunners eventually led to modern icons like the Glacier Express and Orient Express.

From an engineering standpoint, some railroads are simply mind-boggling. Do you know where the longest rail system in the world is located? And do you have a clue as to where it goes? A clue: it’s in an area where you’re definitely going to need heavy mittens.

From the B&O to Union Pacific, America’s history is strewn with iconic companies that helped build memorable train systems. Some were regional. Others were more ambitious, sprawling through the plains, mountains, and canyons of the Wild West. Maybe you think you have what it takes to be an engineer on the frontier?

Stoke your locomotive’s fire, blow the whistle and revel in the roar of a Union Pacific Big Boy. In this quiz we’ll see if you really know famous railroads both old and new!

Where would you find the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway?

The Trans-Siberian Railway is a monstrous Russian railroad, one that stretches across the continent from Moscow to the Far East. It is the longest railroad in the world.

How long is the Trans-Siberian Railway?

The TSB, as it's often called, is about 6,000 miles long. It includes portions that veer often into countries like China and North Korea.

America's First Transcontinental Railroad was originally called _____.

In the 1860s, America began building the First Transcontinental Railroad, but back then it was called the Pacific Railroad, as it stretched toward the ocean of the same name.

Where did the first steam-powered train journey take place?

In 1804, a steam-powered locomotive barreled down tracks in South Wales. It was a monumental event, but commercially viable steam locomotives were still years away.

How many companies worked to complete America's First Transcontinental Railroad?

The First Transcontinental Railroad was a team effort, one that required the combined forces of three railroads. Each stretch of the railway wound up presenting very different challenges for the companies.

The United States' First Transcontinental Railroad connected Omaha, Nebraska with which city?

The First Transcontinental Railroad connected Omaha with Oakland, California. Altogether, the railroad was more than 1,900 miles long.

When did construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway begin?

Construction of the TSB began in 1890, under the audacious guidance of Tsar Nicholas II. The project was meant to invigorate transportation not only in Siberia, but throughout all of Russia.

Which continent was home to the first international railway?

In 1843, in Europe, the first international railway became operational. It connected Cologne with Brussels.

In Peru, tourists take PeruRail from Cusco to ______.

The ancient ruins of Machu Picchu are far and away Peru's biggest tourist attraction. The PeruRail whisks countless tourists from Cusco to the remote ruins. Once you arrive at your destination, you can look forward to hotel rooms that cost upward of $800 per night.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad is the ______ railroad in the United States.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, or B&O, is the oldest railroad in the U.S. The first stretches of track opened for business in 1830.

The very first passenger railroad was called the Swansea and Mumbles Railway. Where was it located?

The Swansea and Mumbles Railway was the first railroad ever to accept paying passengers. It opened for business in Wales in 1807.

True or false: Do tourists now account for most of the passenger miles logged on the Trans-Siberian Railroad?

The TSB is indeed a major Russian tourist draw. But domestic passengers still make up the bulk of the miles logged on this iconic Russian railroad.

Where would you find the legendary "Blue Train"?

In South Africa, you can ride the Blue Train, which is very literally blue. It's essentially a fancy and expensive rolling hotel for wealthy tourists.

The "Golden Spike" was the last spike driven during the construction of which railway?

On May 10, 1869, the ceremonial Golden Spike was driven, signaling the completed First Transcontinental Railroad in America. The West was about to open to settlers and companies in a whole new way.

The original Orient Express started in 1883 and connected which two cities?

In 1883, the Orient Express gained fame for providing a route from Paris to Constantinople. The first trains were known for their relative luxury, especially when compared to traditional means of overland transportation.

During the American Civil War, how did the Union Army react to Confederate attacks on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad?

During the war, the Union paid little heed to the famous railroad, and it suffered under constant attacks from the Confederacy. Union generals felt that they had more important matters to attend to.

The Settle-Carlisle Railway is an amazing way to see some of the most scenic areas of _______.

The 72-mile Settle-Carlisle Railway lets you relax and soak in some of England's most amazing scenery. You'll also spy a lot of Victorian architecture on this famed trip.

The Trans-Siberian Railway passes through how many different time zones?

The Trans-Siberian Railway is so long that it passes through eight different time zones. In Russia, though, all of the railway's time tables stick to Moscow local time to (hopefully) prevent confusion.

Where would you ride a famous train called the Rocky Mountaineer?

The Rocky Mountaineer takes passengers on a breathtaking ride through the Canadian Rockies. Forget sleeping, this train will leave you speechless and restless as you spy some of the most spectacular scenery in North America.

Why did the famous Orient Express temporarily halt its service in 1914?

In 1914, World War I broke out across Europe, halting all sorts of businesses, including the Orient Express. It would be four years before service resumed.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was the first _______ in the United States.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was the first common carrier in America. Essentially, that meant that the railroad would transport people and goods of all kinds for other companies and assume responsibility for the risks that were involved.

How long does it take to make the journey from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian Railway?

The route from Moscow to Vladivostok is a whopping 6,152 miles. It takes roughly seven days to make the entire journey.

In which country would you hop aboard the Glacier Express?

In Switzerland, the Glacier Express rolls through 180 miles of the country's best scenery. You'll spy the Swiss Alps, hit 7,000 feet at Oberalp Pass, and also pass through more than 90 tunnels.

In 1836, Canada's first public railway, the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad, opened for business. How long was its first run?

The Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad's first stretch was 16 miles, between La Prairie and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, providing residents and businesses with a much faster means of local transportation.

Central Pacific and ________ were the two companies that joined their lines at Promontory Summit, Utah, completing America's First Transcontinental Railroad.

Central Pacific and Union Pacific joined their final ties in Utah, completing the First Transcontinental Railroad at long last. Manifest Destiny was a step closer to realization.

On the Trans-Siberian Railway, it takes seven days to go from Moscow to Vladivostok. About how much does it cost for a second-class ticket?

For a measly $700, you can take the Trans-Siberian Railway for more than 6,000 miles, soaking up much of the Russian landscape along the way.

The Belmond Hiram Bingham is a luxury train that takes tourists to which attraction?

The Belmond Hiram Bingham is another train -- an expensive one -- that ferries passengers to Machu Picchu in Peru. You don't even have to ride inside, because one car has an open observation deck where you can get fresh air.

Central Pacific was the company responsible for constructing the westernmost stretch of the First Transcontinental Railroad. It relied heavily on ____ workers for manual labor.

Many Chinese workers toiled to build the difficult stretches of the First Transcontinental Railroad. For their work, they made about $20 per month, far more than most of them could earn in their home country.

In what part of the world would you find the Eastern and Oriental Express?

The Eastern and Oriental Express is a luxury train that rolls between Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. You will never want for anything during your ride, because the train features 24-hour butler service.

The Palace on Wheels is an ultra-fancy train that operates in which area?

In India, you can get your dose of royal treatment thanks to the Palace on Wheels, a luxury train that began operation in 1982. If you get bored at the bar, just head down to the spa car.

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