Journal of A Railroad Builder

by That 1 Guy

Chapter 1: Foreword

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It’s hard to believe it’s already been a hundred and thirty one years since the golden spike was driven.

It’s also just as difficult to believe that in all that time, next to nothing has been found regarding the railroad builders’ lives during its construction. I’m sure plenty of records are still around. It’s still weird to think I’m the first worker to talk about what happened to us while working. Nothing extremely controversial happened, though there were more than a few problems

Given the circumstances under which this journal was written, I think it would be best to explain some stuff. First off, I’m the author. My name’s Wayward, I’m communicating this foreword to a scribe through a spirit summoning, and yes, everything in here is true. I didn’t make anything up or omit anything out of fear of the Royal Guard knocking down my door or possibly getting lynched. Equestria was different back in 967.

That was one of the biggest differences between the book and the current era. It was written more than a hundred years ago. Racism against non-pony species was a problem at the time, and schisms with the deer, buffalo, and zebra were all too common. Despite this, foreign species workers were welcomed just as warmly as the rest of us.

That’s enough of that, though. Let’s move on to the railroad itself, the reason I’m sure you picked up this little book for. The Transequestrian Railroad runs for roughly 500 miles in each direction (North, South, East, and West), and that’s not counting the branch offs from the major railways. Altogether, every meter of track laid adds up to a little over 2000 miles of railroad. The original plan for the railroad was for it to be constructed in 4 major sections (called Trunk Lines), each of which would be built by the hooves of 200 or more volunteer workers. That’s right, everyone who joined up did so out of their own will. No one was forced into it, and everyone was allowed to leave should they find the task too grueling. Luckily though, very little of the latter took place, at least on the crew I was part of. Each section would run from its city of origin to a single connecting point at the exact center of Mt. Canterlot. The railroad leading up to the marble city was actually a branch off, unlike what most believe.

The original plan was that through teamwork, sheer will, and the desire to succeed, the Trunk Lines would be completed by 968 RCO (Reign of Celestia Only). Unfortunately, due to events I’m sure everyone’s learned at least once in history class, that wasn’t the case. Miraculously though, the whole thing was completed, branch lines included, by New Year’s Day 969.

Now for a bit on me. I was a drifter of sorts (I still enjoying travelling, in both this world and the next), wandering from town to town in a simple effort to see the next sunrise with both eyes intact. Despite what you folks may think of the whole “drifter equals gruff, handsome, muscular stallion” stereotype, get it out of your head now. Not even ten of the folks I worked with fit that description. We were all just Average Joes trying to help out the nation and earn a few bits in the process.

I can’t remember for the (after)life of me why I bought this journal in the first place, but it was a good thing I did. As for why the first entry in this thing seems like a story opening in the middle, it kind of is. I didn’t decide to start writing in it until after I joined the crew, after I met the three ponies who would become my closest friends, and after the first day of construction was complete. After that, I only wrote in it after some time had passed or something interesting happened. I never put a date in the damned thing, but despite the low amount of entries, they cover a little over two of the better years of my life.

In short, I had seen a poster plastered on the side of a skyscraper in Manehatten and, with literally nothing better to do, I decided to sign up. I mean, travel the world, help out the kingdom, and get paid? It seemed like a good idea, and it was, more or less.

So, I headed out to the recruiting station near where the first track of the Manehatten Trunk Line was destined to be laid. Looking back on it, it seemed like the only 3 requirements for a unicorn to join were:

A: knowledge of simple telekinesis spells.
B: a belief in racial equality amongst all sentient species.
C: the ability to produce forward momentum without assistance.

The entire interview took about half an hour, and then after getting my first month’s pay in advance (I couldn’t help but think that was a bad sign), the recruiter pointed me in the direction of a skyscraper that had been temporarily purchased for use as a home for workers who didn’t already have one. I had a feeling that there would be a significant amount of Ibex and Zebra on the crew, but it was almost shocking to actually see so many in the flesh. They were equines too, but my parents were never the best receiving of the striped guys, much less the ones with two horns. There were even a few donkeys onboard, and the ponies I saw didn’t seem like they were interested in a fellow member of their species.

Somehow though, another unicorn spotted me out of the crowd and just about dragged me by my tail to meet her friends. Said unicorn was a mare by the name of Swan Song. She was cheerful beyond belief, and had a singing voice that never failed to impress. Her brother was a workhorse by the name of Rook. I still wonder to this day if he had some sort of genetic anomaly that made him as big as he was. His collar was custom made to fit him, and despite his brutish figure, he was a gentle giant and loved chess. The last individual I met that day was almost the exact opposite of the first two. His name was Jack of All Trades (though he just preferred “Jack”), and he redefined the term “skittish”. I’m pretty sure that if I dropped a safety pin at one end of an empty warehouse and had him sit at the other side, he would’ve heard it and ran for cover. He was a nice guy though; a good heart, smart, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out that he had serious affections for Swan. I got the feeling though that he didn’t want anybody to know about it, so I stayed silent.

We talked for a long while, and then the four of us went out to dinner together. I had never been the subject of better hospitality before in my life. We split the check four ways before heading back to the apartment complex and spending the night playing cards and chess. We were friends in a day, and I still meet with them every once in a while (there’s a lot to do in the afterlife, believe me).

We had a few days before the entire thing kicked off, and the first spike of the Manehatten Trunk Line was driven by the local investor on the first day of Spring. I’ll let my journal entries take it from here. I hope you enjoy reading through my adventures as much as I did writing them.

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