Unknown History: Amazing Ideas Born on a Train

40s passenger train ideas

Back when train travel was popular (and necessary) and before the advent of mass travel by car or plane, there were those who slept on trains, ate on trains, rode on trains, and got their best ideas while on a train.

AH

Alfred Hitchcock was riding in France when he came up with the Notorious balcony scene, starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, after he saw a girl clutching the arm of a boy who was urinating against a wall.

JKR

J. K. Rowling said that he idea for the young wizard Harry Potter and the series’ other characters came to her “fully formed” when she was on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990.

GG

George Gershwin wrote Rhapsody in Blue after hearing what he called the “steely rhythms” and “rattle-ty bang” of the engine when he was riding the rails from new York to Boston in 1924.

MG

Mohandas Gandhi began to develop his idea for nonviolent resistance after he was thrown out of a whites-only, first-class carriage that he had a ticket for when he was a young lawyer in South Africa in 1893.

WD

Walt Disney, a train fanatic, not only cooked up the plan for Disneyland while riding through new Mexico in 1948 but he also made his first sketches of Mickey Mouse on a cross-country-trip expedition in 1928.

LH

Langston Hughes was crossing a bridge over the Mississippi River near St. Louis in 1920 when he thought up the first verses for “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” He finished the poem on that same train trip.

Crash

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