Annotated Bibliography|Snopes Article

Mikkelson, David. “Penny on Railroad Tracks.” Snopes. Unknown, 2008. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.

This article relates back to perceptions of trains and their dependability and whether or not the public is safe using them as a mode of transportation. Obviously at the time of origin for this myth many people must not have had much confidence in the reliability of railway safety or their ability to remain on their tracks. Thus, emerges the folklore that a single penny could derail trains. In “Iron Unhorsed,” Mikkelson debunks the myth that a penny placed on railroad tracks will cause the train to derail. After explaining a small bit of the background to this myth, the author goes on to warn others not put pennies on tracks. The author does not issue warnings because of potential train derailment but for the safety of the public as railroad tracks are a hazardous location. This seems like common sense; however, several unfortunate examples are given as to what tragedies have occurred because individuals have not heeded the cautionary warnings. For example, many have died while in the process of placing pennies on the tracks, either because they were unaware the approaching train or because they believed that they could escape in time to avoid an extremely unpleasant death.

This source demonstrates how the perceptions of society are extremely influential. Unfortunately, the dangers of the influences produced by folklore and tales are also seen through the penny myth as they influence the real people and their actions. Going unchecked, without the facts to smother out myths negative perceptions and stereotypes can not only affect individuals but society as well. In addition, the root of the penny folklore lies within fear and distrust of the technology itself. Insecurity about the safety of railway tracks led to the ridiculous logic that a coin could cause displacement of massive railcars and engines that literally weigh tons.





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