Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(1,213 words)

1. General

Rails are long, thin pieces of wood, and later (late 18th century on) cast or wrought iron, that were laid longitudinally along roadways to facilitate the movement of vehicles like carts by reducing friction on their wheels. A horse pulling a wagon full of coal on wooden rails could replace 24 packhorses or two or three four-horse wains (Cart).

The first wooden rails were used in the German and Austrian territories of central Europe in the 15th century to transport metal ores in small hand-prope…

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Dougherty, Carolyn and Popplow, Marcus, “Rail”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 10 June 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_027071>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20210107

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