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The superstitions about railways

Although one of the passions of the human being is to decipher the unknown, it is not less certain that when we are for the first time face to face with it we tend to recede. There is a certain fear of the unknown that can manifest itself in the form of superstitions. This has happened with various inventions and new technologies: we have impregnated them with a patina of distrust and insecurity.

When the railway first arrived in peninsular Spain in 1848, the year in which the first railway line (Barcelona-Mataró) was inaugurated, we welcomed it with fear. This fear was based on various speculations and superstitions. It was said that the rails were greased with children’s fat, that the passage of the train could generate sparks that would burn the surrounding fields, that the gases expelled by that steel creature would contaminate the corn and cause deadly respiratory pathologies.

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Even prestigious scientific journals published communiqués from researchers concerned about the arrival of the first trains. Personal archive

Doctors and psychologists feared the physical and psychological damage that traveling at such dizzying speed could have. Abortions in pregnant women, traumas, respiratory diseases, chronic anxiety… Even a series of correspondence addressed to the prestigious The Lancet (February 15, 1862) warned about this very thing. However, time has taken away their reason and has demonstrated the effectiveness and importance of a means of transport that revolutionized the world at all levels.

THE DATUM

The fear or phobia of trains or anything related to them gets a name: siderodromophobia

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