Did people believe their hair would catch on fire if they rode on a train?
October 19, 2011 3:25 PM   Subscribe

There's a story I've long accepted as fact, that when the railroad train (or possibly the automobile) was introduced, some people opposed them in the belief that their hair would catch on fire from air friction if they traveled over a certain speed (maybe 35 miles per hour). A while back, I tried Googling this story to find the source, and was surprised to find I was completely unable to locate any reference to this. Did I just dream this one night and forget that it wasn't true?
posted by El Sabor Asiatico to Society & Culture (5 answers total)

A well known, elderly, now-dead architect told me that water towers on New York buildings were initially there for firefighting purposes, because of the newfangled underground garages. He said there was a lot of talk and editorials about how these automobiles, with their gasoline tanks, were rolling bombs. When none blew up after a decade or so, the fears faded.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:40 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's a reference to that here about three-quarters the way down the page (in the "closing statement" section), so you're not crazy, but I can't find mention of it anywhere else!
posted by janerica at 8:08 PM on October 19, 2011

More useless anecdote: I distinctly remember reading that a fear about the automobile was that the skin would be pulled off the face when exceeding these grave velocities.
posted by still lampin' at 9:36 PM on October 19, 2011

I've heard that when trains were new in Japan, passengers boarding instinctively removed their shoes, and were then quite upset when said shoes faded into the background as their train departed. But hair catching fire at a certain velocity sounds like somebody dreaming clichés.
posted by Rash at 8:38 AM on October 20, 2011

« Older I always knew he looked at me a little too long...   |   What font is used on the cover of this book? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.