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THE Invention of the Locomotive Engine and its application to the worki'g of Railways, is one of the most remarkable events of the present century.
Within a period of about thirty years, railways have been adopted as the chief means of internal communication in all civilized countries.
The expenditure involved in their construction has been of an extraordinary character. In Great Britain alone, at the end of the year 1856, not less than 308,775,894l. had been raised and expended in the construction of 8,635 miles of railway, which were then open for public traffic.
This great work has been accomplished under the eyes of the generation still'living; and the vast funds required for the pur— pose have been voluntarily raised by private individuals, without the aid of a penny from the public purse.
The system of British Railways, whether considered in point of utility or in respect of the giganti: character and extent of the works involved in their construction, must be regarded as the most magnificent public enterprise yet accomplished in this country,—far surpassing all that he; been achieved by any government, or by the combined efl'orts of society in any former age.
But railways have proved of equal importance to other countries, and been adopted by them to a large extent. In the United States, there are at present not less than_ 26,000 miles in active operation; and when the Grank Trunk system of Canada has been completed, that fine colony will possess railroad communications 1500 miles in extent.