The Lost Era of Electric Train Travel (To Write and Have Written)

Or, “how equine influenza made your newfangled electric sewing machine run.”

Did you know the United States had a complex and efficient, electric train system that serviced most of the population? Did you know this train system brought electric power to rural communities? Let’s talk about the interurban, and about how transportation affects your worldbuilding. With guest Alena Van Arendonk.

Video (from Twitch and YouTube):

To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
Laura VanArendonk Baugh

<p>Writing is only part of a writing career -- no one warned us that we would need business acumen and entrepreneurship to be an author. Whether you're traditionally published or an independent self-publisher, it's good to have a leg up on accounting, marketing, time management, and other key skills.</p><br><p>These recordings of live discussion on craft and development, on business best practices, on explorations of fascinating and inspiring real life cool stuff, and more will help you along your writing journey and career development. Join Laura VanArendonk Baugh as she shares what she's learned and what she's learning. (Or join the weekly live discussion with your own questions!)</p><br /><hr><p style='color:grey; font-size:0.75em;'> See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' href='https://acast.com/privacy'>acast.com/privacy</a> for privacy and opt-out information.</p>

Transcript:

Laura
Transition. Hey, we’re live. Whee! So Hello, everyone. Good evening. Good morning. Good. Middle of the day. Good midnight, if that’s where you are. Happy time zones. Yeah, I am Laura VanArendonk Baugh. This is To Write And Have Written. And this is the fifth Tuesday in the month, which means it’s a field trip week. So instead of talking about business things or, you know, grown up stuff, we get to go and do something fun this time.

Laura
We’re still technically on topic. This is still going to be a world building theme, but we’re going to — you’ve heard me say multiple times. Your best worldbuilding information is in history, because we’ve had thousands and thousands and thousands of years for people to try things and see how they worked.

Laura
So we’re going to talk about it, period that nobody ever talks about really in US history, but real quickly. Hi, Eerie Hollows, which is, by the way, one of the coolest usernames ever. And hey, Sophia is here, too. Awesome. Okay. Anyway, I have no idea where it was. Yeah. So we’re going to talk. This is Alena. Where did I leave you? You’re over here. Here we go. This is Alena.

Alena
One side of the screen of the other. You got a chance.

Laura
I got to pick here. Alena VanArendonk. We are related with a name like that, absolutely. But she also… Well, actually, do you want to just say your history connection is like, why are you qualified to speak on this?

Alena
I’m a nerd. I have studied history formally. I minored in history at the University level, and I’m also part of a historic preservation organization. I am the Secretary and a bunch of other titles of the Franklin Township Historical Society, which is in Indianapolis based organization Franklin Township being part of Indianapolis. And I’ve been on the board for about 19, 18 years. A lot of years. So I have become very familiar with, yeah, I’m a relic, I think is how that works. So I’ve become very educated through necessity about the last couple hundred years since the the settlement of this part of the country that I am located in and that our Township is located in started around the 1820.

Alena
So pretty much from the 1820 up to present day, because I speak to school groups and people who come into our building. And I give tours and I give presentations and things. I’ve had to become knowledgeable about a lot of things from that period in particular.

Laura
So I asked Alena to come here today to speak about the interurban, which is a word that some people know, but quite honestly, I’m really surprised at how few people are familiar with the interurban and its place in US history. So I’m just going to introduce this with, “this is how Equine influenza meant that your sewing machines got to run.” That’s where we’re going, there’s your hook right there.

Laura
Okay. So what I thought is I’m just going to turn Alena loose to run with this and then I’ll jump in where I have questions or want to expand or just want to nerd on something and then, absolutely, please, of course, throw questions in the chat. And my goal for this. This is very much like, like, all the field trip kind of things because I want to go and explore something that’s a little bit cool. But then please use this for both education and inspiration. And I get so many of my ideas or work things out. Like, “how can this possibly function?” by just filling out my brand with non fiction. That’s it’s a great way to do it. Just put all the pieces in there and let them jumble together.

Laura
So, yeah. So that’s where we’re going with this. I think this is pretty cool. This is something that honestly a lot of people. I just had some friends in from out of town, and we were down in Irvington, where they still have some interurban tracks visible. And I’m like, do you know what this is? They’re like, no, and I’m like, yeah, too bad you’re duct-taped to the wall now and I’m going to tell you. So let’s get in and do this.

Laura
Bridger says, put all the pieces in there and let them jumble is 100% legit world building. Absolutely. This is why when we talked about Ramen or we talked about the murders in the Galapagos Islands or whatever, like, you can just grab so many pieces. But who would have thought that a high profile hostage situation is why Cup Ramen got big? Like, okay, these are the kind of things you can grab and run with. Yeah.

Laura
Oh, thank you for the sub shy red Fox. I appreciate that. Okay, Alena, I’m gonna stop getting in your way and let you, like, start with us.

Alena
It’s your stream, you can talk too.

Laura
Where are we going to start?

Alena
We’re going to start with the pandemic, except it wasn’t actually a pandemic. It was an epizootic because it was in the animal world, and it was isolated to I mean, it started regionally. It actually started in Canada and spread to the US in the early 1870s. There was a severe outbreak of a new strain of Equine influenza that sickened thousands and thousands of horses. And it started most people think somewhere near Toronto and then spread because, you know, transportation was horse based.

Alena
At that time, there was a lot of contact between animals, cities were densely packed. And really your transportation options in the 1870s were horses for local or shorter distance travel or steam engines for longer distance travel, because we did have steam trains. But there were not a lot of local, non equine based options for transit, except for walking, which did not always work in some regions. You didn’t always have the terrain for that.

So horses were used for deliveries. Horses were used for transportation for people and goods. Horses were used for carrying messages. If you didn’t have telegraph to certain areas, everything was based around horses. And when thousands of horses got sick and died in 1871, in 1872, people started realizing, hey, now that we’ve got this establishment of all these cities with lots and lots of people and lots of places we need to be going, maybe it’s time to start thinking about making some means of transporting things that don’t revolve around horses, because the transit industry and the goods delivery industries were crippled for months because all the horses were sick.

Alena
Even the horses who didn’t die were unable to work because influenza is very hard. And it can be very damaging. So that that spurred people to start investigating other options.

Now, steam engines were used for a lot of things, including children’s toys, which that’s another road we can go down. Why you shouldn’t give your toddler a steam engine for Christmas.

Laura
I want to spend just a moment there. She’s not kidding. Like you could get your kid a little locomotive and fire it up with the little boiler that was actually burning and boiling and occasionally blowing up and

Alena
It might burn your house down, but at least your kid will be happy.

Alena
Yeah, there were steam systems that were supposed to power your household appliances, and those went horribly wrong, too. So anyway, that’s a separate topic. But steam was not always practical for most situations. For a lot of the reasons we’re talking about, it was loud. It could be dangerous. It required a lot of fuel. It required having hot steam coming out of things. So while there were certainly steampowered automobiles, in fact, my great grandfather owned one, they were not a really practical way of transporting goods and people en masse.

Alena
So over the next couple of decades, there was a lot of interest in electricity. You had the Edison and Tesla Wars going on during this time, and eventually by the 1890s, electricity had been refined to the degree that it could power things like street cars. So you began seeing electric cable systems in cities. You had street cars that were powered, just like some of the trolleys that still run on electricity today in San Francisco and places. They all started around the turn of the century.

Alena
And you would have a Wheel or a hook with a line that ran to the streetcar, and it would run down a cable system that was suspended over the street. And that’s how it powered the streetcar.

Alena
And around 1890 somebody got the bright idea. Hey, if we’re running electric streetcars in cities, why don’t we make long distance electric rail travel? And that is the birth of the interurban.

Alena
By around 1890, there were still primarily horsedrawn modes of transit in cities. By 1897, horses were the exception to public transit situations. So you had horsedrawn street cars and horse drawn trolleys were almost entirely replaced by the turn of the century in most major cities.

Alena
So this caught on very quickly. Cities were becoming electrified. Major cities, not your small towns, yet, we’ll get to that. But the major cities were putting an electricity to power, not just household things and not just industrial concerns, but also public transit.

Laura
But Alena, every time I read a historical novel or watch a historical movie, it is always horses, horses, horses, horses, horses. Right up until 1921, when suddenly we have the Auburn and the Duesenberg.

Alena
Then you have the really sexy cars. Yeah, right. Yeah. Well, in some areas, if you were in a small town, you might not have electric street cars. But, yeah, the 1890s are when personal automobile started becoming available. I won’t say on a widespread scale, but they certainly were available If you wanted to special order one.

Alena
To give a personal example. I mentioned my great grandfather. He had what is possibly the first personal car in Indianapolis. A crowd gas gathered at the train station to watch it be offloaded from the train that delivered it. And that was in 1895, and it was a steam powered car. He later replaced it with an internal combustion car about 1898 or nine. I think I’m not sure on the dates on that. But this is the 1890s, and people were driving cars. There weren’t a lot of them, but they existed. And by about 1905, there were so many cars in New York that there was actually a lawsuit from automobile owners trying to bar horses from public roadways because the horses were too slow and they were causing traffic jams because there were so many cars in New York City.

Alena
So, yeah, if you’re reading a book and it’s 1910, and there are only horses in a major city, it’s not really accurate.

Laura
People are shocked, shocked to see an automobile in 1917.

Alena
Yeah, I recently watched a production. I’m not going to name it because that would be mean, but it offended me deeply because it’s supposed to take place in, I think, 1910, like, right around there, you know, a little before World War One starts and there’s a crowd of people on Coney Island, and they watch a horseless carriage roll into view. And they are shocked and they say, but how does it move without horses? And I’m staring at this going, I’m sorry. 1910? There were more cars than horses in the city by 1910.

Laura
You know, we have tanks, right? Like, tanks.

Alena
Just do your homework, people.

Laura
Okay. Sorry. Just had to veer off for a moment.

Alena
Just that’s fine. So anyway, by the mid 1890s, electricity was replacing horses for public transit in urban settings. Now, long distance was still primarily steam train. More rural areas didn’t necessarily have electricity because electricity was actually not considered a public utility. At this time in history, electricity was a for profit enterprise. So if a company didn’t think they could get enough profit from your town by running the very expensive infrastructure out to your town, they just wouldn’t bother because if there weren’t enough people in your town to make it worth them putting in the infrastructure, they weren’t going to worry about it.

Alena
And because it was a for profit concern and because we did not yet have the same kind of antitrust legislation that we do now, you had a lot of monopoly situations where the power company would provide power to the businesses, that the homes, anything that they needed. They would also own the traction lines. They would also own the other concerns that use electricity. They would give themselves a cut rate. And then there was a lot of shady stuff going on with the power companies, and there were multiple power companies, and they were in competition with each other.

Laura
So are you suggesting might be corporate profiteering during the Gilded Age. Is that something I heard?

Alena
There might be a reason the term “robber barons” came into use.

Laura
Yeah, we did get a comment from shy Red Fox saying “loving these rants lol”. So I said, Good, because they’re probably not going away anytime soon.

Alena
No, you’re going to have them for another 45 minutes, it’s fine. Yes. Anyway, 1890s, people started looking at long distance options for electric rail travel, and the Interurban should not be confused with electric street cars. They’re very similar, and they run on the exact same system. But the interurban cars are massive. If you see photos of them, they are enormous. They are as big or bigger than a freight car, whereas the street cars were more like the size of the city bus. It was capable of holding a lot more people, and they actually traveled at quite fast speeds.

Alena
The Interurban in the Midwestern area. Now, this is going to depend on your terrain, partly, because they are trains and if you have tracks with a lot of curves in them or a lot of elevation changes, obviously, they’re going to have to go slower. But it was pretty common in the Midwest for interurban travel between 60 and 80 miles an hour. This is an era when 30 miles an hour was considered fast for a car in a standard driving situation. If it wasn’t a race car or something so they could go much faster than personal vehicles could, which is one of the reasons they were so popular.

Alena
And so the traction companies and the traction — traction refers to the type of system it was where you had rails and a rail car that was running off of the power line basically. The traction companies were in fierce competition to see who could lay the fastest track and get the most customers. In the Indianapolis area and again, that’s the area I’m most familiar with, the area I’ve done the most research on. There were actually seven traction companies in competition operating in and around Indianapolis itself.

Alena
So you had the street cars in downtown Indianapolis. But then if you wanted to go out to the towns surrounding Indianapolis, which at that time — now they’ve all been absorbed by suburban sprawl, because that’s what happens with cities in modern times. But there used to be smaller communities sort of circling the city. That was maybe on a horse. It might be half a day’s ride out. But if you had an interurban, you could get there in an hour. So they were starting to lay these tracks out in sort of a spoke pattern from all the major cities.

Alena
And by the early 1900s by around 1908, 1910, it was said that you could get on an interurban train in New York and travel all the way to Wisconsin without ever taking any other mode of transportation. If you didn’t mind making a lot of changes and getting a lot of new tokens along the way, because they were run by different companies. So that’s how vast they were. They were spread out so much and connected so many of the major cities to the smaller towns that it was really a great network. You could pretty much travel anywhere you need to without hopping on a steam train, without finding somebody with a long distance capable vehicle.

Alena
And they were super popular. They were not the safest mode of transit, but this is again the era of steam boilers and nothing was safe and anything could explode in any moment. So there were occasional crashes, there were fatalities, there were derailments just like you have with any other mode of ten. Cars are also not totally safe either. We have car crashes every day. Airplanes are not entirely safe. There is no entirely safe mode of transit.

Alena
But they were fairly reliable because there were so many of them and a lot of the urban departed every hour because there were people commuting now. Commuting wasn’t really an option before because you had you didn’t have a reliable, fast mode of transit to get from a suburban town to the big city. But if you were in a city that was now only half an hour away from the big city by interurban, there was no reason not to pay a token hop on the train, go into the city where you could maybe get a better job. So this is really the birth of commuter rail.

Laura
So on that point, we have a question ShyRedFox asked about the inspiration for the Ticket To Ride board game. So can you speak to that a little bit?

Alena
Ticket To Ride is, as far as I know, and I’ve played the game a few times, but I do not know much about its development. As far as I know, it is mostly just inspired by the idea of the competing rail networks of the steam lines. But it is true that the same pattern happened with the Interurban. Where the steam rail, you had all of the different railroad barons trying to claim as much territory as possible, put down their tracks, and so they had the right of way because they were there first. The same thing happened with the Interurban, where you would have different companies who were trying to get to certain areas. And if they got their infrastructure there first, and they had the right away on those rails, they could run their lines. And again, a lot of times, the tracks were owned or leased to the power company that was providing electricity for them. So it was in their interest for a lot of reasons to make sure that they kept their right away on those tracks because then they’re making more money.

Laura
And where are these tracks or these tracks? Like at a station outside of town? Or where are these tracks?

Alena
It sort of depends on where you are. So if you had a rail system, say, streetcar system in the city, you would probably have to transfer to the inter urban system once you got to the city limits. Except for if you were in a city that had a terminal that serves both. And I’m going to brag on Indianapolis a little bit here. Indianapolis had the first Union station train station in the world. It was built in the 18, started construction in the 1840s, and the first Union station concept came from here because Indianapolis was a major rail hub in this part of the country, served all of the major commercial districts around it.

Laura
Crossroads of America!

Alena
Yeah, there’s a reason we got that nickname. And there were so many different train lines running through the city. But if you got off of one train and you had to catch a train on a different line, you had to get out and walk to the next train station, which was inconvenient. So they built a Union station, which means all the train lines would come in and dump their passenger traffic in the same building.

Alena
So it was extremely easy for people to say, oh, I got off of train line A, I need to be on train line C. I just walk across a couple tracks on the platform and get on the next train.

Alena
The interurban, which were also run by competing rail lines or traction lines, in this case, also took a leaf out of the same book. And in 1904 in Indianapolis, they built the world’s largest traction terminal, which was still standing until the 70s when they blew it up. I’ll get to that. But it cost at the time…. Let me verify my numbers here because I have my notes here.

Laura
While she’s checking that I just want to clarify very quickly, because I’ve had this conversation and seen the confusion, the Union station is not named for a Union railroad line or a Union railroad company, which I frequently have seen people think was the case. It is because that’s where you brought many lines in to unite, so that was the Union station. So yes, as Grace is saying, I’ve always wondered why every US city seems to have a Union station.

Alena
Yeah.

Laura
Because that way you could have all your lines connect and became much more, it’s a hub. Right. You can have

It’s a very efficient system.

You can have all your airlines arrive at the same airport, it’s way better than having 15 different airports.

Alena
Right. And that’s exactly the way it was. Imagine if you were trying to fly from place to place and every leg of your flight, you had to get out, get a taxi drive across town to the next airport. It’s ridiculous. So the Union station makes perfect sense. If you can lay the tracks to all come together.

Laura
You can finish your thing, and then we’ll come back on.

Alena
All I was going to say is the seven light rail service providers in an around Indianapolis joined forces and built the Indianapolis Traction Terminal. It was built in 1903. Open 1904 at a cost of a million dollars at the time, which adjusted for inflation as well over $30 million today. So it was not a small building. It was a very, very large, fancy building. Go ahead question.

Laura
A question was, were other countries trying to incorporate electric rail at this time, or was it pretty specific to the US at this time?

Alena
There were certainly other countries that were utilizing electricity and building building infrastructure for it. I do not know when the rail surge hit, say, Europe. There were definite electric services going in at the same time, but I don’t know if it happened the same decade or if they looked at us and said, oh, that’s actually not a bad idea. Let’s do that too, simply because that’s not my personal area. So I haven’t researched those dates. Electric rail obviously caught on there. I mean, if we’re going to look at mass transit, the US certainly dropped the ball during the mid 20th century.

Laura
We are not cutting edge at this time, right?

Alena
Yeah. We used to have mass transit. We don’t now. But Europe does. Europe has a very excellent train system.

Laura
And east Asia has has some amazing systems.

Alena
Asia is running the world in terms of their mass transit systems. They’re way ahead of everybody, but here we basically gave up our right of way, and there are reasons for this that I will get into if I have time. But in the mid 20th century, right after World War II, the US did a lot of stupid things. And one of the stupid things we did was giving up the right of way for public transit systems.

Alena
So now we can’t install public transit systems because all the sections of where the track had been are now privately owned, and it would be prohibitively expensive to try to acquire those pieces of land back.

Laura
Do you want to see a rant go down, chat? We get started on that one, yeah. Back to back to the history parts and save the rant for a bit.

Alena
So around the beginning of the 20th century, in that 1900 to 1905 is when these Union terminals started cropping up. And in Indianapolis, they wisely made the Union Terminal for the traction station also be the terminal, or connect to the terminal for the street cars. So you could come from Chicago, hop on an Interurban, come down to Indianapolis via interurban network. Get to Indianapolis immediately without leaving the train shed, step onto a streetcar and go to your final destination.

Alena
So you aren’t stuck trying to find a wagon to take you. You aren’t stuck trying to find a cab or something else. It was a very efficient system.

Alena
And interurbans continued in popularity for the next couple of decades, and they reached their peak in the 1920s. So by the 1920s you had a vast, vast interurban network, especially in the Midwestern area, because we have a lot of farmland to cross and Indianapolis, to take for example, Indianapolis is right in the halfway point between Chicago and Cincinnati, which were two of the biggest commercial shipping hubs in the country at the time.

Alena
So we had a ton of traffic coming through, so it made sense for us to have a really expensive train network. And our interurban network in the early around 1915, 1920 was by some reports, the most expansive light rail system in the world, just in this state. So there were a lot of tracks.

Alena
And they did a few things. I mentioned that they provided opportunities for commuters to come in and now be going into the big city or wherever or farmers who wanted to make connections with the downtown markets or something. They could travel easier. They could transport goods more easily.

Alena
But they also provide a lot of opportunities for the towns they were servicing at home as well. So to use the town I live in, I currently live in a small town, in what used to be a small town that is now part of Indianapolis because Indianapolis grew and just absorbed everything around it. And the Interurban came to the town where I live in 1904, and that was the first time electricity had been in this area.

Alena
And since the Interurban, which again had deals with or sometimes were owned by the electric companies, they had electricity that they built, the traction lines out. They put in the power poles, they ran the cables, all of this stuff. And then they made it available to residents to buy electricity from the traction line. So for the first time in 1904, the small town where I live had electricity available. None of those residents had had a power company before who had serviced that area. So it really made a lot of of opportunities become available for people to develop their own homesteads. For people to get electric appliances that weren’t battery powered, because you had things like radios and stuff that were battery powered. But if you didn’t have battery power or you didn’t have a generator working or you couldn’t recharge your battery for some reason, you couldn’t use your radio.

Laura
And just a little side note, batteries at that time were extremely limited, which is actually why we haven’t been driving electric cars for the last century. Because we had electric cars before we had gas cars, that the battery tech wasn’t able to support them. Do you have any idea how much different the world would be? And all the oil wars and everything wouldn’t have happened? Because, yeah, mindblowing. Okay, carry on, batteries.

Alena
Yes. Steam and electric cars both came before internal combustion engines. Internal combustion engines were more plausible for regular use because they didn’t require the same level of maintenance. And Laura said the battery tech just wasn’t there, you couldn’t go a long distance in electric car, but they both predated internal combustion engine. So the next time somebody talks about those new fangled electric cars, you can just smile to yourself.

Alena
Anyway. Back to the power companies. The interesting thing, because power was not considered a utility at that time, the power companies were not under any legal obligation to meet the needs of their customers around the clock.

Alena
So for the power company, their big money maker was the interurban. Yeah, the residents could pay for their home hookups, too. But the inner urban was where most of their power went. And it was not feasible, it was not profitable for them to continue running the power plant 24 hours a day if the trains weren’t running in the middle of the night. So when the last train went out of service at the end of the day, they turned off the power. And the next morning, when the first train started service, they turn the power back on so you could have electricity in your home.

Alena
But at whatever time the last train stopped running be at 09:00 p.m. Or 11:00 p.m. Or whatever. The power just turned off every night at that time. And you didn’t have power until the next morning to utility.

Laura
It was a bonus service you bought from the transportation company.

Alena
Right. And the antitrust legislation that stopped the interurban being run by the power companies or giving them substantial price cuts didn’t go into effect until the mid 1930s. So around 1935 is when the next stage we were starting to see more of this Antimonopoly antitrust legislation go through Congress from the Gilded Age on, because that was a problem. It really was. But the mid 1930s, they cut back on a lot of what we would consider monopolizing, vertical monopolies and resource monopolies.

Alena
So in the 1920s, the interurban reached their peak. People were using them just constantly because you were through World War One at that point, the soldiers had come back home. You were having the Roaring Twenties and the baby boom. People are getting out of the house. More people wanted to go more places, people wanted to see the world. And so travel was a big thing. You had more of an established middle class by then. So you had people who had disposable income, even if they couldn’t afford a private car, they could still afford to spend some money on tokens and go some place for the day.

Alena
Then the 1930s happened. And the 1930s were really hard on mass transit, partly because of the Great Depression. Immediately, the user base didn’t have that disposable income anymore. They didn’t have the same freedom to just pack up and go someplace for a weekend because everybody was starting to fret about money. And maybe they were out of work. And you had just a lot of social problems coming into play. You also, as I mentioned, the antitrust legislation went through 1935, right in the middle of the Depression.

Alena
So the companies that had been scraped by in the Depression years, suddenly their cut rate electricity went away. Now they can’t afford to operate. So it only took a few years for the Interurban to go out of operation. And locally, in my area, they started reducing their service in the early to mid 1930s, and by 1941, there was not a single Interurban in service there. There was one interurban company still operating up to 1941. They had two cars. That was it. These are companies that used to run every track, every train leaving on the hour. They had two cars left in their fleet.

Alena
And so there was an accident that it was not feasible to fix the cars for what they were making off of it. And the state looked at that and said, no, we’re not funding this. The company went out of business and the only remaining rail service at that time, besides, you had freight rail and you had passenger rail for long distance, that were still running on what had been the old steam lines. But you still had the trolleys.

Alena
The streetcar trolleys in downtown Indianapolis lasted until the mid 1950s. And then they went away, too, because after World War Two, everybody immediately went into the American dream of you have your house in your car and you go on road trips. And it was, heyday of Route 66. And you were starting to see the interstate. The Eisenhower Interstate system went in. Cars were what people wanted. And nobody was using mass transit anymore because it was a luxury to have your own car. Why would you ever take a bus or a trolley or anything else if you had your own car?

Laura
And there was also how much the government, the state and local governments really, really pushed for automobiles instead of public transit. And of course, now we look at this and we’re like, what were you thinking?

Alena
Why?

Laura
But I remember reading and I didn’t look it up for this because I didn’t know I was going to want to talk about it. But I remember reading about a major city. I want to say it was in Texas, but don’t quote me on that.

Alena
It was. It might have been Dallas, I’m not sure. The Dallas, it was a large city in Texas. There are several.

Laura
Yeah, there are a few. They sold their entire city urban transit system to General Motors for the sum of $1. And then General Motors, of course, promptly shut it down because people needed to have cars. And here we are, like 2021, trying desperately to make public transit a thing. Yeah.

Alena
And the right of ways. As I said, they gave up the right away. And once the right aways were gone, there’s, you can’t get them back. If you sold your right of way or you gave up the right of way and people put buildings on that property or laid streets on that property, you can’t come in 50 years later and say, actually, we just decided we’re going to put in a train system, so we’re tearing down your building. Thanks. You can’t do that.

Alena
You know, they can seize people’s farmland to put an interstate through their century old fields. But that’s a separate issue for another, another rant. We’ll save that rant for later. That’s the after hour hours rant. We are not an entirely corruption free nation in terms of our shady business deals going on.

Alena
In any case, the interurban, despite the fact that it’s forgotten about, there was about a 30 year period when that is how people traveled. They didn’t own cars yet unless they were very wealthy and they weren’t taking passenger rail the way we have, like Amtrak and diesel rail. Now, the inner urban were how people got around, it’s how they got from town to town. It’s how they commuted. It’s how they got two different places.

Alena
And that era has been kind of just dropped because it wasn’t the classic horse and carriage coach time that we think of in the Victorian era. And it wasn’t yet the roaring twenties where everybody had their convertibles. And we’re playing jazz and great Gatsby. And all of that.

Laura
Having an entire house party in the rumble seat.

Alena
Yeah, right. I mean, I’ve seen those rumble seats, but, yeah, the in urban was a major part of life, and it really shaped the way that a lot of the small towns in America developed.

Alena
And at that time, small town life was still a big thing. There were big cities, but there were a lot of people not living in the big cities because you had a lot of people engaged in careers that were not yet modernized and mechanized the way they are today. Think about if you look at and I live in an agricultural state. So I see a lot of farming going on. We have farmers, there are farmers all in my area. Laura owns a farm that farmers are actively harvesting corn and soybeans are on. She lives in that house in the middle of the cornfield that the aliens attack.

Alena
But 100 years ago, you had farmers using horsedrawn equipment or using very limited gas equipment or doing a lot of manual labor. You didn’t have $750,000 combines coming through and doing an entire field in ten minutes. So it was you had a lot more people doing that sort of work, and they lived in small rural farming communities all over the country. And those communities largely grew and survived and thrived thanks to the interurban, because again, that’s how they traveled to places. That’s how they got their electricity. That’s how they got things. People going to town to buy stuff, as opposed to having to take an entire day, hitch up the horses to your wagon, go into town and it took you several hours to get there. You can just hop on the interurban and be there fairly quickly because your horse is pulling your wagon are probably not going 70 miles an hour, but the interurban did and sorry, go ahead.

Laura
We have a couple of chat questions and comments, but you can finish a sentence and I’ll come back.

Alena
I was just going to say I do want to talk about how they change the landscape of cities as well, but we can do the questions first.

Laura
Okay, so I’m just going to take this in reverse order. So Masolko says always aliens. Can’t the rural States be plagued by werewolves or mummies for once?

Alena
Mummies are hard because we don’t have a lot of mummies in US history that we didn’t just go steal from the Egyptians.

Laura
Most of our neighbor mummies were further south anyway.

Alena
The Southwest could have mummies, but there’s not as much agriculture in the Southwest.

Laura
Yeah, we could have like ghost mammoths in Indiana. That would be, we should have some ghost mammoths.

Alena
Ghost giant camels. We used to have native giant camels here.

Laura
Yeah. Okay. Alright. So we’ll get on that. I said this is an inspiration session. There we go. Jump back, Kyle has a question and this is great because it looks like an A-B question and it’s actually like an essay question. Alena in today’s world, are trains more important for transporting freight or passengers?

Alena
Oh, okay. So I have opinions. I’m first going to focus in on the word important, and I’m going to say it varies depending on about whom you were speaking of the importance to. Trains are still used a lot for freight. Trains are still a critical part of the freight process in America. I would say most people in the US consider trains primarily freight movers. However, if you look at the rest of the world where they actually have functional efficient passenger rail, I think it could be that we are just not we collectively in the US are not seeing the importance of trains as a potential passenger mover because we have we have cars.

Alena
Americans are obsessed with cars. We really are, like you cannot function in most parts of America unless you have access to a car. You can’t have a job, you can’t get to the store. Our cities are not built for walking. Our cities are not built for public transit, but if you look at a lot of the problems we’re having, we’re looking at, hey, there might be oil shortages during some periods of time. Hey, the price of oil has gone up an that’s threatening to people’s livelihoods because they can’t afford to get to work. Hey, we have massive amounts of traffic. In our city we have road issues as well. We have traffic jams for half the day in parts of the city because the roads aren’t well designed to handle the volume of commuter traffic we have. And Indianapolis is a city of mostly bedroom communities. So you have the downtown area where people work during the day, and then they all live 45 minutes away somewhere around the city. If we had commuter trains that could bring those people into downtown and eliminate 90% of that horror traffic jam, think of how much better transportation would be.

Alena
Think of how much less pollution there would be from internal combustion vehicles, just idling on the interstate for 40 minutes in a traffic jam. So there are a lot of places where trains are used primarily for freight, but I think they should be used more for passenger, and they just aren’t because we don’t see that as a priority in this country. But then if you look at a place like

Laura
We systematically and deliberately disabled our passenger lines, that’s the choice that we made.

Alena
And now people don’t see that as an option, because a lot of people in the US.

Laura
I was trying to think of it, as I suggested to somebody who is trying to get to a conference, and she’s like, I can’t drive that far. And it wasn’t that far. It wasn’t that far. I say, as an American! It would have been like an eight hour drive.

Alena
You and I are the outliers in our driving.

Laura
I also like Americans and the English. We consider long distances totally… Anyway, the point is, and I said, Jump on the train and she’s like, “People can’t take trains.” And I’m like, oh, actually!

Laura
But it’s just like the average American. That’s not even like a menu item on transportation

Laura
mentioned real quick. Masolko says it’s been interesting seeing California struggle trying to develop a high speed rail. As Alena just mentioned the cities aren’t always conducive to foot traffic or local commuter options.

Laura
You really can tell we’re actually fairly young country, and a lot of our cities were built, you know, recently, built for automobiles. We’re not ever built for walking or for horses.

Alena
Yeah. And like, again, to use Indianapolis as an example. Indianapolis was a plotted city. It was planned. They chose a site. They hired a city designer and the immediate downtown area, which is what the city was built when it was first built in the early 1800s, that’s what they built, actually is very logically laid out. The streets are a grid, there’s a circle in the middle, and there’s four diagonal streets going out to the corners. And it’s very easy to get around in. But the problem is the city grew and the periods of time in which the city was expanding were dominated by different types of technology.

Alena
So the city, even though the core of it, is extremely functional and very compact and very easy to walk around in. It’s what makes it a great convention city. Once you get outside of that immediate downtown area, you can’t move. There are no sidewalks, the streets are laid out weird. It’s impossible to get from Point A to Point B.

Alena
And a lot of the cities in the US had that same problem where maybe when they were first founded, they were logically designed. And you can walk around certain older parts of town. But then they came in and ran an interstate through the middle of the city. And now you can’t get from one side to the interstate to the other because they didn’t put sidewalks or crosses in or anything.

Laura
It’s the difference, like if you go to an older city, any medieval city. Of course, everything, now that once you get out into the suburbs, it’s all sprawl because again, new technology. That’s what we plan for. But if you go back to older cities, Jon, my husband and I, were in Rome during a transportation strike, so the only way we could travel was on foot. We got everywhere we wanted to be during the transportation strike because, well, Rome was never designed for the automobile. You just walk from the Forum to the next place because that’s what you were doing.

Alena
And that’s the reason a lot of those cities have embraced public transit because you can’t put a car down some of those medieval streets. There’s just no room for it. So public transit makes more sense.

Laura
Certainly can’t put 30,000 cars on that block.

Alena
Yes, that is true. And there are cities in the US that have public transit. There are a number of cities that have subways. New York, it’s pretty easy to, you can’t drive in New York. I’ve done it. But you don’t want to. It’s difficult to get around by car in many parts of New York because it’s just too congested. But they do have an expansive subway system. So you can just hop on and go from Point A to Point B.

But once you get out of New York City, if you go to upstate New York, there is no public transit except for the Amtrak line that runs through the north part of the state, and that only runs on alternate days.

Alena
So it’s really dependent on where you are. But back to the question, I think traffic rail service in general is important for both freight moving and for passenger systems or passenger movement systems. But part of the problem is in the US because the freight lines on the rails or train services are never going to be able to compete with things like European or Asian train systems, where the passenger lines are the main function, because even though technically they’re not allowed to since the freight lines on the tracks and the passenger lines run at the mercy of the freight trains, if there’s a freight delay, the passenger trains get delayed, then people don’t want to take the train next time because they were late getting to their destination. And it’s messy.

Laura
Yeah. And Grace points out in Grace is from New Zealand. So she points out on my travel.

Alena
There are nice trains in New Zealand. I run.

Laura
There are, nice trains in New Zealand. She’s heard train whistles all over the US and places where she couldn’t take a train, which is sad because she likes train travel. I love train travel. I really do like it’s one of the best ways to travel.

Alena
There are certain routes that you do have good train service on. Like, if you need to go from Chicago to Seattle, the Empire Builder is a great way to travel. It takes two and a half days, which is not as fast as flying, but it’s really comfortable and you’ve got nice scenery and it goes right through the national parks, and it’s really nice.

Laura
ShyRedFox says, South Dakota used to have Amtrak, but we haven’t for a long time.

Alena
Yeah. So Amtrak has been somewhat mishandled, is a good way to put that in terms of making it

Laura
See above re deliberately scuttled. Yes.

Alena
There were some decisions made that probably were not in the best long term interest of establishing a good, reliable passenger service. Now, if you go to the East Coast, there are actually a decent number of local trains that you could go from Boston to New York or something. And those trains tend to be fairly affordable, so really reliable, they travel quickly and on time. But the long distance Amtrak travel is even though I love doing it. And I do it quite a lot, actually, because I can work on the way to my destination. But then people can’t bother me because I can turn off my phone. “Oh, no, I’m on a train. I can’t hear you.”

But the potential for delays again because of the freight lines or because of everything is high. So it’s not something where — if you need to be at your destination by a certain hour, fly, you aren’t going to take a train because the train can always be late.

Laura
Let’s just clarify for a second. What we mean is the way things sorted out, this is the hugely hugely condensed version, is the passenger trains are running on railroad lines which are owned by the freight companies. Well, when that was — for reasons. Okay. But when that was set up, the government’s idea was that if the freight trains delayed the passenger trains, then the passenger Amtrak could ask for compensation. And so that would keep everything balanced and shared. Except then the government’s like, oh, actually, you can’t ask for compensation. So the freight train said, oh, you mean we can just use this line and put in a ten hour delay and there are no consequences? Okay.

Laura
So that’s yeah. And they’ve started to correct that recently. But that is where we went through this incredible period where Amtrak was not reliable. And that’s the reason why.

Alena
Which hurt Amtrak reputation. It hurt Amtrak profits. So then Amtrak had to be subsidized by the government. So then people were complaining. Why are we paying government funds based out of coming out of taxpayer dollars to subsidize a failing train line? Well, the reason it’s failing is…

Laura
Tax dollars are also subsidizing automobiles and airplanes, but fine, we don’t want to talk about that yet.

Alena
We’ve got issues with that.

Laura
I’m going to grab Shy’s comment about train travels. “Amazing. Love the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo.” Yeah, the Shinkansen is the bullet train. And, oh, the Japanese trains are amazing. Then shinkansen are like the next level up, and they are fast, and they are luxurious. And, yeah, they’re great.

Alena
And that’s a case where in Japan, trains are primarily used for passenger rail. There is much less freight hauling on train lines in Japan because that’s the way everybody gets around. There are fewer cars, and it’s actually not uncommon for people in Japan and not even have a driver’s license because they don’t need one. They don’t own a car. They live in cities where they can go anywhere on a train. And that’s true in parts of Europe as well, depending on where you live. But in the US, you have to have a car in almost all of the US.

Alena
And obviously, if you live in downtown New York and you work in downtown New York and you never leave the city, you might not need to own a car. You might not need to have a driver’s license, but most places in the US are set up like suburbs. It’s actually the majority of the US population lives in suburbs. So you might have to drive ten or 15 minutes to get to a grocery store. Until a couple of years ago, when they opened a grocery a few miles from me, I had to drive ten minutes to get to a grocery store.

Alena
And I don’t live that far out like I live in the city. So that’s just the way our cities are, the way life is in America. Now, you can’t just walk places real quick.

Alena
Because we were talking about world building. I do want to talk about the city layout, the interurban period, only the heyday only last about 30 years. But it was 30 years when there was also a lot of urban expansion going on. You started seeing cities getting larger. You had people starting to move from the outlying areas to the city to work.

Alena
And so during that time, you had a lot of things built around the concept of interurban travel. And if you are in many cities, you can still find relics of the interurban in some places that’s road layout where there’s a major road on the south side of Indy, that the right of way for the inner urban became a median between the two lanes of the street, because interUrban ran right down the middle of the street just like a street car. They just wore bigger and faster and have their own Lane.

Alena
So you can still see the original one Lane road on one side. Then you have this grassy median and trees, and then you have the four Lane road where the road became a major thoroughfare later on, and they just expanded it on one side of the median. But that median is where the interurban ran, and some of the original traction line poles with the insulators are still running along that street. So you’ll still see streets laid out like they were for the InterUrban.

Alena
There are also street names. In Indy, just for example, we have streets that are called Stop 11, Stop 12, Stop 13. They never renamed them. The roads were named because that’s where the In Urban stopped between two towns. And then when the city expanded to that point, they just named the roads they built after the in Urban stops.

Alena
A lot of times, if you’re looking at sort of the community flavor for your stories and you have something where technology has come through. In my area where I live, there’s a building that was built in the 1890s and it was a sort of a hardware store. General Store. It’s been a lot of different things, but it was always in the open by the same family and operated by the same family. And the interurban stopped near the store. But there was no actual InterUrban depot. There it was just a stop and you got off on the side of the road.

Alena
Because the nearest building was this general store, all the people who wanted to ride the In Urban would gather in the lobby of that store and wait for the interUrban because there were windows they could watch. And when they saw the train coming down, they could go out and get on it. And that way, they didn’t have to stand out in the cold weather. And eventually the shopkeeper actually expanded the front of the store and put in what was basically a little breezeway with doors and glass. So people had more insulation from the weather when they were waiting for interurban So that shaped the way buildings were built.

Alena
So a lot of times the technology and the phases of technology we see dictate how buildings are constructed, dictate how streets are laid out, dictate the direction in which town expands.

Alena
And if you look at buildings that were built prior to the 1930s or 40s, a lot of them have higher ceilings, and they have transoms those little windows that open over the door. Victorian houses frequently had a tower, so you would have a tower with high windows, and then the interior rooms had nine foot ceilings instead of modern feelings or 8ft. And then they would have transoms over the door. That was an early cooling system for your house, because you would open the windows at the top of the tower and open all the transforms of the doors. And the hot air would rise the top of the ceiling and get pulled up by the air escaping out the windows because all the hot air rises to the tower. And that’s how you kept your house cool. Once we had forced air. Once we had air conditioning and things like that and climate control, then all the ceilings dropped to 8ft.

Alena
But the technology dictated the way the buildings were constructed because humans are actually pretty smart and they figured out how to do things even before they had technology to do things.

Alena
So I do want to throw that out in terms of world building, what technology your world has will dictate what your world looks like. And even if it’s not the current technology, if it was the technology 50 years ago or 100 years ago or 200 years ago, those impressions are still going to be around because that’s how society works. Unless you had your entire

Laura
That’s why our cars and our roads are two horse butts wide.

Alena
Yeah. And actually, that affects train rails, too. The reason rail cars have the wheels set at the exact what they do is because the standard was set based on the wagon ruts that were on the old Roman roads, which were caused by the width of two horse butts. So we’re still using standards that were set in place based on horse technology.

Laura
Yeah.

Alena
Those are important things to look at. How does the technology in the world you’re creating? Whether that’s for a story or a game campaign or anything, how has technology shaped what your world actually physically looks like? Because that’s going to affect it.

Laura
If you need exposition, people standing around gabbing at the overhang waiting for the interurban to come by, is way better than as you know, Steve is dumping things like.

Alena
As you know, Steve, 98 years ago, when our town was called this and had this Mayor and had business.

Laura
But, I mean, you have a reason for people to be hanging out, waiting for the public transportation, which is not something that maybe you were thinking you had that option, to have people hanging out there. So we do have one more question from Kyle asking if there are any commercial maglev high speed rail lines in the USA Today.

Alena
I wish. Supposedly someone is looking into it. That is as far as we’ve gotten with maglev. There have been some, I think some successful experiments with it out west for very short, different distances. Realistically, the US is a big country. I mean, it’s not Russia big because Russia has 16 time zones, and we only have four. But we do have four time zones, like, we are a fairly large country. So there are lots of parts of the country where it is just geographically not feasible to try to power maglev for the distance and over the terrain that we would have to do.

Alena
I think maglev is very feasible for small, more local like, you have the East Coast commuter stuff. I think that’s more likely to happen. I don’t know that we’re going to get kind of long distance rail, like we’ve got Amtrak lines running from one coast to the other. You can go from New York to LA or something. You have to take a couple of jogs in there, Chicago to Seattle, that sort of thing. But I don’t think we’re going to see a whole lot of commercial venues for long distance maglev travel just because it’s going to cost so much to put in and to run to operate.

Alena
And right now, America, it’s a great country. Great country. I like living here. But we are still having people fighting the transition to alternate forms of electric power. There are still people out protesting, how dare you take away our coal burning power plants? And we’re like, actually, statistically, your coal plants are poisoning your populace. And here’s all the cases of people living around the coal plants with lung disease directly tied to the coal plants. And people are still resistant to the idea of replacing with solar, wind, anything else.

Alena
There is a huge contingent of the populace in the US that does not want clean energy. That’s just it’s the way it’s always been done. We’re going to have our dirty energy and like it. And even the concept of maglev for anybody to want to put funding that is not just private, experimental funding into that. You’re going to see a lot of people fighting it. And it’s kind of America is a very diverse country. We have a lot of different opinions. We have a lot of people who are very vocal about their different opinions, but it means it’s hard to get stuff done. Because you have to try to make everybody happy.

Laura
We’re going to keep talking. We’re going to keep educating, ask me about my solar powered electric car, please.

Laura
We do need to we do need to wrap up because. Well, actually, I should ask, are you streaming tonight, too?

Alena
I am streaming tonight, but I did post on my social media that it would be whenever this wraps up because my channel hosts your channel when I’m offline. So in theory, if somebody logs on to my channel in three minutes here, they can see that I’m here. So it is not a, we have to be off by 7:59.

Laura
Okay. We could start to wrap up. So I would say the real sales. I see your question. Let’s wrap our topic for tonight and then I can come back and hit that after we let Alena go. Since that’s an off topic writing question. So if there are any remaining questions about transportation, world building, rail, equine influenza, robber barons, or electric cars.

Alena
I can speak at links on robber barons as well. Have a whole presentation on how the Gilded Age shaped literature.

Laura
She can get quite eloquent on robber barons. And I’m actually probably going to bring that back in at some point. Yes. PhiPhiWorldsMaker, We will definitely raid Alena channel once we give her a chance to get up and running. Yes, thanks. Thank you that I would really appreciate you guys sticking around for that rate. Yes. Kyle, I introduced us at the beginning. We are siblings, so we are sisters. We are not twins. We get that a lot.

Alena
There are not that many people with this name. We can spell it therefore you know, it’s ours.

Laura
Oh, hey Joe, thanks for stopping by. Yeah. Okay. So I’m not seeing other questions coming in. So let’s let you go, Alena, and then I’ll answer the writing questions and then we will raid you. Okay.

Alena
I’m gonna turn some lights on because it’s actually starting to get dark in here.

Laura
Okay. If you have not been in the habit of following Alena, she’s not going to speak on trains on her stream. She’s actually doing a sponsored cosplay build from Tails of Vesperia. Oh my gosh. I just totally blanked on his name. Who are you working on? Flynn! I could have gotten this out of multiple choice, but I just blanked. So she’s building out a bunch of armor and other thermoplastic fun things.

Alena
Today I’m mostly sewing magnets and stuff. I said today I’m mostly sewing magnets on stuff. I’m totally open to Q and A. Yeah. So like if you just want to throw questions at me while I’m sewing magnets, fun stuff. That’s cool too.

Laura
Yeah. And they can be questions about magnets because she knows so much.

Alena
How do they work? I’m not answering that one.

Laura
All right, so let’s let you go and then I will answer this other question and then we will raid you. Okay.

Alena
I’ll be on in a minute.

Laura
Yes. I’m going to go ahead and throw into the chat. She is AndSewingIsHalfTheBattle. Let me see if I can type and talk at the same time. All right. Hopefully that is going into the I think that is that right. Okay. Good. Yes, she will tell you that glue gunning on your own body is a bad idea because

Alena
I will tell you from personal experience.

Laura
Personal experience on that. Yeah. Alena and I started cosplaying in 2003. Is that 2002? Yeah. Some freaking long time ago.

Alena
19 years.

Laura
Yeah. If there is a way to do it wrong, we can tell you. And then we also, she has a whole stream on how to do it right as well. So please follow her for that. Okay.

Laura
Thank you, Alena, for giving us a great interurban background and hopefully people will find that useful in their own world creation. And yeah, I’m going to let you go. Everybody wave goodbye to Alena. Hi. Oh, okay. Allright. And then I’m gonna let Alena take off and get set up. We’ll raid her in just a moment and then I’m going to jump back to, where is it? Where is it? Where is it? In the chat.

Laura
The real salties is asking about Wattpad. So the answer is it depends. That’s not a terribly helpful answer, but it is the most accurate answer. Especially if you are getting started, you haven’t built a huge audience yet and you’re looking for feedback, Wattpad’s probably perfectly a good venue for that. If you are trying to become a commercial writer, writing professionally and getting paid for your work, it’s extremely hard to get traction with that on Wattpad.

Laura
And if you’re building an audience on Wattpad and then you’re like, “but now I have a book for sale over here,” most of those people are not going to follow you from a non paying platform to a paying platform.

Laura
So that’s a long way of saying it depends. But especially if you are, and I have no idea I’m sorry where you are, what you’re doing at this point. But I would say if you are not making, you know, solid money as a writer at this time and just looking for I want to experiment with this, I want to play with this. I want to get feedback on my work, let people leave comments and things, then yeah, look into that could be a good option. So hopefully hopefully that answers your question. Yeah.

Laura
So next week we’ll cycle back around again on our weekly themes. Next week is a business topic and we’re going to be talking about Evernote. Yeah, that is a topic by request. And Evernote is software. It comes in multiple tiers free tiers. There paid tiers, and it is basically lets me dump all of my brain into this digital memory account so that I don’t have to take up my mental RAM in remembering things. It’s similar to OneNote and some other things. Evernote is my favorite and I’m going to tell you all the ways I use it and all the tips and tricks for it. That’s not true. There’s way too many tips and tricks and I’m not going to be able to tell you, all of them. But I’m going to give you an overview and explain what I use it for in writing and then just managing my entire life. Yes. Business stuff, business stuff, map stuff. Yes, all the things.

Laura
Yes. Evernote does have a free tier. That is definitely what I would recommend to get started. It has some advanced features that are only available in the paid tiers, but honestly, you’re probably not going to need that at this point if you’re not already using Evernote.

Laura
The major drawback to the free tier for most people is that you can only sync, I believe, between two devices, whereas I sync between three devices regularly, meaning anything I add on my phone instantly appears on my computer desktop and vice versa and such. So if you are a person who has a tablet and a phone and a laptop and a desktop computer and all the things going on, then you you’re not going to be able to have everything synced across the board at the free level.

Laura
But we’ll talk more about that next week, and I have all the things Grace says, I need it. Oh, my gosh. Like I can’t tell you how much I rely on it. I’ve used it for so long, and it has definitely been a life saver in so many situations anyway.

Laura
So next week we will talk about Evernote. What else is going on? Did I make myself any notes to share? I don’t remember. Oh, I’ll give you the quick heads up. I have an unofficial monarch butterfly farm going on. If you want to see way too many pictures of caterpillars eating milkweed and chrysalises and monarchs hatching and do they hatch? I don’t know. Emerging from a chrysalis. Then check out my Instagram, which is Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Pretty straightforward. You just have to copy paste it so you don’t have to try to spell that. And I’ve been updating that pretty regularly with caterpillar pictures.

Laura
So there you go. That is it. Let’s hop over and raid Alena. Yes.

Laura
Yeah, ShyRedFox. I saw that you said you had been formerly. Mine was completely accidental. This year, I planted some milkweed, and I’m not even really a gardener. I just needed something positive and productive to do in pandemic spring, so I’m like, oh, pollinator garden. Oh, my gosh! So many caterpillars! So I’ve been out desperately scavenging for additional milkweed and all of that. I’m going to do some milkweed harvest this weekend.

Laura
Okay, so we’re going to hop over and raid Alena. Hey, guys. Thank you so much for joining me. I will see you next week. Take care. Be excellent to each other.

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