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Railway town

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Title: Railway town  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Dawsonville, Kenya, Ølgod, Railway towns in England, Skjern, Denmark, Hammel
Collection: History of Rail Transport, Types of Towns
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Railway town

Bereket (Kazandzhik) in Turkmenistan. The town originated from a railway station built in 1885. The city is now an important crossroad of the old Trans-Caspian Railway and new North-South Transnational Railway.

A railway town, or railroad town, is a settlement that originated or was greatly developed because of a railway station or junction at its site.


  • United Kingdom 1
  • North America 2
    • Role in land speculation 2.1
  • Europe 3
  • Asia 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

United Kingdom

In Victorian Britain, the spread of railways greatly affected the fate of many small towns. Peterborough and Swindon became successful due to their status as railway towns; in contrast towns such as Frome or Kendal remained small after being bypassed by main lines.[1] Some entirely new towns grew up around railway works. Middlesbrough was the first new town to be developed due to the railways, growing from a hamlet of 40 into an industrial port after the Stockton and Darlington Railway was extended in 1830.[2] Wolverton was fields before 1838 and had a population of 1,500 by 1844.[3] Other examples of early railway towns include Ashford (Kent), Doncaster and Neasden.[4]

  1. ^ a b Dyos, H. J.; Wolff, Michael (1999). The Victorian City. Routledge. p. 292.  
  2. ^ "Complex birth of first railway town". The Northern Echo. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Darby, Henry Clifford (1973). A new historical geography of England 3. CUP Archive. p. 220.  
  4. ^ a b c d Armstrong, John (2000). "'Railway Town': Swindon". In Philip J Waller. The English urban landscape. Oxford University Press. p. 217.  
  5. ^ a b Redfern, Allan (1983). "Crewe: leisure in a railway town". In John K. Walton. Leisure in Britain, 1780-1939. Manchester University Press.  
  6. ^ a b c Charles Harvey, John Turner, ed. (1989). "British railway workshops, 1838-1914". Labour and business in modern Britain. Routledge.  
  7. ^  
  8. ^ a b Athearn, Robert G. (1962). Rebel of the Rockies: A history of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. pp. 104–105. 
  9. ^ Seyfarth, Jill. "The Rise and Fall of Animas City". The Animas Museum, La Plata County Historic Society. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Auer, Peter; Hinskens, Frans; Kerswill, Paul (2005). "Process of standardisation in Scandinavia". Dialect change: convergence and divergence in European languages. Cambridge University Press. p. 189.  
  11. ^ Kristensen, Peer Hull (July 1989). "Denmark: an experimental laboratory for new industrial models". Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, (Routledge) 1 (3): 245–55.  
  12. ^ Sewell, Bill (2002). "Railway Outpost and Puppet Capital: Urban Expressions of Japanese Imperialism in Changchun, 1905-1945". In Gregory Blue, Martin P. Bunton, Ralph C. Croizier. Colonialism and the modern world: selected studies. M.E. Sharpe.  
  13. ^ Buck, David D. (2002). "Railway City and National Capital: Two Faces of the Modern in Changchun". In Joseph Esherick. Remaking the Chinese city: modernity and national identity, 1900-1950. University of Hawaii Press.  


See also

Changchun in China was built by the Japanese, then occupying Manchuria, as a 'model town' as part of Japan's imperialist modernisation. The first railway town at Changchun was begun by the Russians in 1898, but it excluded Chinese residents. A second major railway town was designed and built from 1905 by the South Manchuria Railway, inspired by Russian railway towns such as Dalian. It was based on a rectangular system that contrasted with the circular walled town of old Changchun, and grid patterns became the standard for Chinese railway towns. The SMR developed dozens of railway towns in north-east China from 1906-1936, such as at Harbin and Mukden.[12][13]


In Denmark, Sweden and Norway, a related concept is the stationsby or "station town". Stationsbyer are rural towns that grew up around railways, but they were based on agricultural co-operatives and artisan communities rather than on railway industries.[10][11]


When the railroad arrived in August 1881, the train stopped in a jubilant Durango, not Animas City. The railroad pushed on up the Animas River, reaching Silverton in July 1882,[8] passing through Animas City without a stop. Animas City subsisted as a de facto suburb of the Durango area before annexation by Durango in 1948.[9] The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a heritage railroad and successor to the Rio Grande in La Plata County, still passes by the townsite.

Such is the case with Durango, Colorado. In the spring of 1880, William Bell of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad scoured the La Plata County area in the vicinity of Animas City, located on the Animas River. When negotiations to acquire land through the local homesteaders fell through, Bell acquired property downstream to the south under more favorable conditions in the name of the Durango Land and Coal Company. By the end of the year, a Durango newspaper reported all of "Animas City is coming to Durango as fast as accommodations can be secured."[8] The population, at the time estimated between 2,500 and 3,000 people, crammed into the little "box town," where the only permanent structures were saloons, dance halls, restaurants and stores.

In some cases, a railroad town would be started by the railroad, often using a separate town or land company, even when another town already existed nearby. The population of the existing town would shift to the railroad town. This would create a boon for the town company and its railroad founder, which would sell off lots near the station at a substantial profit, often before the railroad ever arrived at the new townsite.

Role in land speculation

In western Canada, railway towns became associated with brothels and prostitution, and concerned railway companies started a series of YMCAs in the late nineteenth century in response.[7]

company towns created by railroads in places where no settlement already existed.

Becoming rail hubs made Chicago and Los Angeles grow from small towns to large cities.

In the 1870s successive boomtowns sprung up in Kansas, each prospering for a year or two as a railhead, and whithering when the rail line extended further west and created a new endpoint for the Chisholm Trail.

North America


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