National Geographic : 1910 Mar
ROMANTIC SPAIN* BY CHARLES UPSON CLARK, OF YALE UNIVERSITY PAIN is still almost a terra incog nita. The stern and yet fascinating country whose sons once dominated Europe and brought their language and their civilization to the western world has not yet been spoiled by the tourist. Cut off from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees and the sea-forming, in fact, a detached bit of Africa-Spain has gone on through the centuries preserving countless ancient traits which give her life and people a peculiar stamp. Since Spanish railways and hotels make traveling almost as simple a matter as in Italy, and the people are fully as courteous and honorable as any other, the American need not hesitate to include Spain in his itinerary, and may look for ward to a wonderfully interesting ex perience. He will not, however, get the full benefit of it unless he is at home in Spanish history and not wholly ig norant of the language. Nowhere else does the past, with its great warnings against pride, intolerance, and extravagance, so impress even the casual passer-by; and one is about as likely to find an English-speaking person in Spain as to find one who knows Span ish in New England. Journeying into Spain from France, the traveler is promptly notified by a change of gauge at the frontier that even the railroads in Spain are different. Their gauge is over a foot wider than that of central Europe and of America; so passengers must change cars and freight be transshipped. This wide gauge is a great advantage, and American rail road men sigh for it. It enables more powerful locomotives and more capa cious cars to be used, though the Span iards have not yet risen to their oppor tunities. Their railway equipment is in general behind the times, although one or two through trains are equal to the best elsewhere, and I remember seeing a new Munich locomotive so powerful that it whisked twenty loaded passenger coaches up a grade with little effort. By noticing the plaques on the engines, which tell when and where they were made, one can watch on Spanish rail ways the entire development of the loco motive. They come from everywhere, and seem never to be made into scrap. I have seen engines dating from the 50's still in use, and it was especially interest ing to see machines which announce that they hail from Gravenhausen, Depart ment du Bas-Rhin, thus proving that they date from before 1870, when Alsace became German territory. European railroad practice is far be hind ours in the use of air brakes on freight trains, and Spain is especially backward here, since few of her freight cars have even hand brakes. That leads to amusing methods of switching cars. When a brakeless car is started down its track the brakeman runs beside it and sets pebbles on the rail before it. These soon overcome its momentum. In the Madrid yards one sees a refinement of this system. At the end is a track run ning at right angles across the others; on this moves an electric engine, pushing a large platform on wheels, like one of our turn-tables. By means of a chain and capstan, the engine hauls the car to be switched upon this platform, and then pushes the load to the proper track. The car, when released, has considerable mo mentum; when the brakeman wants to stop it, he sets an ingenious iron shoe on the rail in front of the car. The car mounts the shoe, which is thereby knocked off the track; the brakeman * The illustrations are from photographs by the author unless otherwise indicated.