• The First Transcontinental Railroad (known originally as the "Pacific Railroad" and later as the "Overland Route") was a railroad line built between 1863 and 1869 that connected Iowa with the Pacific Ocean at Alameda, California, opposite San Francisco. The road thus connected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States by rail for the first time. The construction and operation of the line was authorized by the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864, during the American Civil War. The Congress supported it with 30-year U.S. government bonds and extensive land grants of government-owned land. Opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869, with the driving of the "Last Spike" at Promontory Summit, Utah, the road established a mechanized transcontinental transportation network that revolutionized the population and economy of the American West. (Vocab.: government bonds : emprunts d’état ; land grants : concessions de terrain ; network : réseau ; railroad line: ligne de chemin de fer)

    The transcontinental railroad served as a vital link for trade, commerce and travel that joined the eastern and western halves of the late 19th-century U.S.A. The transcontinental railroad slowly ended most of the stagecoach lines and wagon trains that had preceded it. They provided much faster, safer and cheaper (8 days and about $65 economy) transport east and west for people and goods across half a continent. (Vocab.: goods : marchandises ; halves : moitiés; stagecoach lines :  lignes desservies par diligence )

    The main workers on the Union Pacific were many Army veterans and Irish immigrants. Most of the engineers and supervisors were Army veterans who had learned their trade keeping the trains running during the American Civil War. The Central Pacific, facing a labor shortage in the West, relied on Chinese immigrant laborers (the “Celestials”). (Vocab.: Army veterans : anciens combattants; labor shortage : pénurie de main d’oeuvre ; trade : métier;

    Completion of the railroad substantially accelerated populating the West, while contributing to the decline of territory controlled by the Native Americans in these regions. The Native Americans saw the addition of the railroad as a violation of their treaties with the United States. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line. Union Pacific responded by increasing security and hiring marksmen to kill American bison, which were both a physical threat to trains and the primary food source for many of the Plains Indians. The Native Americans then began killing laborers when they realized that the so-called "Iron Horse" threatened their existence. (Vocab.: Completion : achèvement; hiring marksmen : engager des tireurs d’élite ; labor camps : chantiers ; a threat to : menaces pour … ; War parties : groupes de guerilla)

    P1030611.jpg SALT LAKE CITY (Ut.): The Gateway.

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  • Needing rapid communication, the companies built telegraph lines along the railroad. The linkage made these lines easier to protect and maintain than the original First Transcontinental Telegraph lines


    In addition to track laying (which typically employed approximately 25% of the labor force), the operation also required the efforts of hundreds of tunnelers, explosive experts, bridge builders, blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, masons, surveyors,  teamsters, telegraphers, and even cooks, to name just a few of the trades involved in construction of the railroad. The Union Pacific laid 1,087 miles (1,749 km) of track, The Central Pacific laid 690 miles (1,100 km) of track. (Vocab.: bridge builders : employés aux ponts ; carpenters : menuisiers ; explosive experts  : spécialistes d’explosifs ; involved in : impliqués dans … ; track laying : pose des rails ; teamster : routier ; tunnelers : employés aux tunnels)


    Asa Whitney, first, Theodore Judah, later, did their utmost to have the railroad built. The
    Pony Express from 1860 to 1861 was to prove that the Central Nevada Route across Nevada and Utah and the sections of the Oregon Trail across Wyoming and Nebraska was viable during the winter. With the American Civil War raging, the apparent need for the railroad became more urgent. (Vocab.: did their utmost to : firent de leur mieux pour …)


    Six years after the groundbreaking, laborers of the Central Pacific Railroad from the west and the Union Pacific Railroad from the east met at Promontory Summit, Utah. It was here on May 10, 1869 that Stanford drove the The Last Spike -- or golden spike, now on display at Stanford University -- that joined the rails of the transcontinental railroad. Travel from coast to coast was reduced from six months or more to just one week.


    Visible remains of the historic line are still in service today, especially through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and canyons in Utah and Wyoming. (Vocab.: golden spike : pointe d’or ; groundbreaking : la première percée ; on display : exposé(-e) à …; Visible remains : les vestiges / témoignages visibles)



    P1030612.jpgSALT LAKE CITY (Ut.): inside view of 'The Gateway'.

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  • Did you know about that ? Just a few miles from the Spanish border, right under Mount Canigou there is a Catalan village who has been, for over a century, a haven for visitors from the UK. It boasts a Church of England chapel, and was a usual Spring and Summer resort for British tourists and thermalists, including such famous names as Lord Edward Grey, Lord Roberts, and Rudyard KIPLING (remember Mowgli ? The Jungle Book ?)

    Another place of interest is the monument dedicated to the Entente Cordiale, a treaty of peace and cooperation between France and Great Britain -- apparently the only one in France, dating back to 1912.

    Unexpected landmarks.

    In 2004, one century after Lord Grey, Denis MacShane, the British Foreign Office minister, attended a ceremony to celebrate the centenary of the Entente Cordiale.This village is known as Vernet-les-Bains (66820, Pyrénées-Orientales).

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  • Here's my translation into Fench:


    Ne t'avise pas d'investir en douceur une pareille nuit.

    Brûler, délirer, ainsi se doit le grand âge d’aller au bout du jour ;

    Enrage, ivre de rage, contre cette lumière à l’agonie.


    La raison est toujours du côté de l’obscur, et proches de leur fin les sages le savent,

    Ceux-là pourtant dont les mots n’avaient pas dérobé la foudre

    N’entrent pas en agneaux dans de telles nuits pour de bon.


    Les hommes de bien, à l’approche de la dernière vague, qui rappellent en pleurant

    De quel éclat leurs frêles actions auraient dansé dans la baie de leurs vertes années,

    Enragent, ivres de rage, contre cette lumière à l’agonie.


    Les fous qui dans leurs chants prirent le soleil en plein vol,

    Pour apprendre, bien tard, qu’ils en ont fait leur deuil et qu'il ne s'arrêtait pas en chemin,

    N’entrent pas en agneaux dans cette nuit pour de bon.


    Près de la tombe les hommes graves qui voient, aveuglante vision, qu'un regard aveugle

    peut parfois s'enflammer tel un météore et s’en réjouir,

    Enragent, ivres de rage, contre cette lumière à l’agonie.


    Et toi, père, en qui culmine tant de tristesse, je t’en prie,

    Maudis-moi, bénis-moi maintenant de tes larmes féroces.

    N’entre  pas en agneau dans cette nuit pour de bon.

    Enrage, ivre de rage, contre cette lumière à l’agonie.


    On the specific difficulties in translating Dylan Thomas's poem, find more details at the following URL-address : http://ambitrad.hypotheses.org/category/essai



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