The Railroad Brings People



With the completion of the first transcontinental railroad just a few years after the end of the Civil War, what was a steady stream of settlers quickly became a flood. This section documents those who financed the rails, planned them, built them, resisted them, and worked on the trains they carried.


Here two contemporary fonts based upon faces from the period work in concert and contrast. American Type Founders' classic Hellenic Wide was often seen on railroad boxcars from the late 19th century onward, as slab serifs are highly readable at large sizes from a distance.

I paired Veer's digital recut of Hellenic (a serviceable contemporary rendition) with David Occhino's more playful Big Thunder; this face is actually based on signage from the famed attraction at Disneyland. Spanish is set in Bitstream's Engravers' Gothic.

Here robber barons of the railroad era are displayed with incendiary quotes about their determination for expansion, no matter what the cost to the land or those living on it.

The railroad lockers interactive allows visitors to engage with personal stories of those who worked on the railroads during this time, from conductors and linemen to chefs and stewards.

Each locker niche contains artifacts from the museum's collections, occasionally accompanied by sound effects such as a whistle or telegraph machine.

Again the "collaged universe" seen in earlier sections helps put visitors directly into era of the stories being told. Designs for these locker panels were finalized with the assistance of Auburn Leigh.

Not everyone who opposed the railroads went quietly. Modesta Avila's act of defiance made her Orange County's first convicted felon and first state prisoner. She blocked the rails near her house and demanded payment for right-of-way. Her words and arrest documents are displayed as embedded text on hung laundry and wood planks laid across the tracks. 

Four sections of the history gallery contain large format scrapbooks which are similar to my Gold Rush Miner Journals. Although this railroad book was designed by Auburn Leigh, I contributed the title lockup based on my typographic treatment for the section. Binding and finishing by The Key.