North American railroads

Merci !

Annales corrigées
Classe(s) : Tle ES - Tle L - Tle S | Thème(s) : L'idée de progrès
Type : Écrit LV1 | Année : 2018 | Académie : France métropolitaine

France métropolitaine • Juin 2018

Séries générales • LV1

North American railroads

document 1 A stamp collection

Alphonse remembers going to a stamp collectors’ market.

He busied himself in a dealer’s1 penny box, where they put all the dregs that no one wants, that have no value, where everything goes for a penny no matter what the postage declares. […] Then he found his first railroad stamp.

It was a commemorative for the first trip of the Atlanta Zephyr. […] A nibble off the top left edge was missing, and half the perfor­ations were gone. But – he couldn’t stop his finger from running over its rough skin. He could feel the speed. The image fell into what he would later discover to be the standard portrayal of trains on stamps: a locomotive and a car or two speeding off the right edge with a little puff of steam, foreshortened to suggest departure from an old world and speed across the border into the new. It was not the picture of a vase or a cat. The train, tinted blue, was a notion of possibility. Human beings had made these trains, men like him, and if to outsiders a stamp was no kind of monument to a grand idea, for Alphonse this was true craftsmanship. With a few simple strokes2, with a few anonymous cars and one noble locomotive, the artist had composed the definition of dreaming. Anything could be in those cars, anything he wanted. […] Once his collection start­ed in earnest, he’d spend hours with a magnifying glass trying to discern human faces in the passenger cars. He filled albums and albums with stamps from around the world. Every place on the globe was linked by the invention of the railroad, it crossed oceans and cultures.

He didn’t notice when he started collecting the stamps of dead places. The Last Run of the Santa Fe Motor, Commemorating the End of Old Erie, Old Brighton Terminal. They issued stamps for dead lines, defunct lines, extinct depots. Routes that had become obsolete, replaced by superhighways or snipped short by politics. Towns failed, everybody moved away and the terminal shut its doors in anticipation of vandalism, became a stamp. Small independent lines were bought up and swallowed by larger ones. Top of the line locomotives made inefficient by technical advances. What remained of the ultimate in human achievement was a stamp. It was all obsolete and preserved in adhesive elegies, limited-issue testament. He collected it all.

Colson Whitehead, John Henry Days, 2001

1. A dealer: a stamp seller (in this context).

2. Strokes: traits d’un dessin.

document 2 The Canadian Pacific


A Canadian Pacific ticket envelope (1955).DR

document 3 The Hyperloop

California firm Hyperloop to test engine in southern Nevada

A California company with visions of building a futuristic tran­sportation system to one day zip people and packages at nearly the speed of sound announced Tuesday it is building a test facility in southern Nevada.

Hyperloop Technologies Inc. and the Nevada governor’s office said the 50-acre facility at a fledgling1 North Las Vegas business park will test a linear electric motor at speeds up to 335 mph – about half the speed envisioned in a full-scale system.

“This decision represents another major milestone in our journey to bring Hyperloop to commercial reality,” Rob Lloyd, CEO of the Los Angeles-based company, said in a statement.

The concept, which was described in 2013 by Tesla and SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk, rips a page from science fiction and aims to make it reality. Pressurized capsules would zoom on a thin cushion of air through pneumatic-style tubes with little friction, powered by magnetic attraction and solar power. Developers envision transport­ing freight and passengers at speeds up to 750 mph – a pace that could cut the 400-mile trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco to less an hour. The speed of sound is 767 mph.

“The physics of it works,” said R. John Hansman Jr., aeronautics and astronautics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But he compared the idea to putting a man on the moon, and called the engineering, technology, scale and cost challenges significant.

Installation of a 1-kilometer track, a little more than a half-mile, is expected to begin this month at the Mountain View Industrial Park in North Las Vegas. The site is part of a sprawling 28 square miles of undeveloped land known as the Apex Industrial Center about 15 miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas. Hyperloop Technologies said the goal is to deliver a commercially viable, fully oper­ational transport system by 2020.

“This is a huge development for our city and for the entire region,” Mayor John Lee said Tuesday. “We welcome Hyperloop Tech as one of the innovative job creators who will transform the landscape of Apex and diversify our economy.”

The Chicago Tribune website:, 8 Dec. 2015

1. Fledgling: brand new.

compréhension 10 points

Document 1

Focus on lines 1 to 24.

1 True or false? Justify each answer by quoting one element from the text.

1. The Atlanta Zephyr stamp was the beginning of a new collection.

2. This stamp was expensive.

3. Alphonse was fascinated by this stamp.

4. This stamp conveyed an impression of movement.

2 Choose the stamp that best corresponds to the one Alphonse found at the market. Justify by quoting two elements from the text.









3 In what ways are trains connected to the concept of frontiers in this text? Give two ideas and justify each answer with a quote.

Focus on lines 13 to 24.

Pour les candidat(e)s qui ne composent pas au titre de la LVA.

4 In your own words, explain why the stamp meant more than a piece of paper for Alphonse. Give two reasons.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L-LVA.

5 What makes Alphonse different from “outsiders” (l. 15)? Answer in your own words.

Focus on the third paragraph.

6 1. What is the common point between the stamps mentioned in this paragraph? Answer briefly and justify with four examples from the text.

2. Find at least two evolutions that these stamps suggest. Answer in your own words.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L-LVA.

7 “What remained of the ultimate in human achievement was a stamp.” (l. 33-34). Explain what role stamps play according to Alphonse.

Document 2

8 1. In what ways is the written part designed to be attractive? Give two elements.

2. Explain how pictural elements in the advertisement contribute to attracting people. Give two ideas.

3. Explain what kind of travel experience is advertised in this document. Give two ideas.

Document 3

9 1. Copy and complete the following table with elements from the text.





Testing of the Hyperloop

a) in …

b) …

c) …

Final project

d) …

e) from …

f) to …

g) …

h) …

2. What makes this project such an innovation?

10 What does the Hyperloop look like? Choose the image that best corresponds to the Hyperloop. Justify with a quote from the text.



angT_1806_07_00C_03aph ©

angT_1806_07_00C_03bph © Eric TSCHAEN/REA




angT_1806_07_00C_03dph © Bloomberg via Getty Images

11 YES or NO? Answer and justify with a quote from the text.

Will the Hyperloop be easy to build?

12 Why does Mayor John Lee (l. 33) welcome the project? Answer in your own words.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L-LVA.

13 In your own words, show that the journalist considers the Hyperloop as a visionary project. Give two elements and justify each one with a quote from the text.

Documents 1, 2 and 3

Pour les candidat(e)s qui ne composent pas au titre de la LVA.

14 Compare the ways in which people use trains in the three documents.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L-LVA.

15 In the three documents, to what extent do trains create links?

expression 10 points

Les candidat(e)s des séries ES, S et L (hors LVA) traiteront au choix le sujet 1 ou le sujet 2.

1 Do you think that technical progress necessarily implies forgetting the past? (300 words)

2 Write Elon Musk’s inauguration speech for the Hyperloop in 2020, in which he reminds the audience of the evolution of transport and explains his vision of the future. (300 words)

Les candidat(e)s de la série L composant au titre de la LVA traiteront le sujet 3 et le sujet 4.

3 Ken / Clara Jones, a collector, is asked to write an editorial for the magazine Collector’s Monthly. Write his / her article entitled “Celebrat­ing things of the past”. (200 words)

4 Discuss the following statement by Elisha Cooper, an American writer and children’s books author: “A train is a small world moving through a larger world.” (200 words)

Les clés du sujet

Document 1


Colson Whitehead, romancier américain, est l’auteur de plusieurs romans dont The Underground Railroad, publié en 2016. John Henry Days, son deuxième roman, raconte l’histoire de la commémoration du héros afro-américain folklorique John Henry. D’après la légende, John Henry avait défié le marteau à vapeur acheté par son patron afin de garder son emploi.

Pour en savoir plus :

Résumé du texte

Alphonse est devenu philatéliste avec la découverte d’un timbre bien particulier, le premier d’une abondante thématique : les trains.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

The dregs (l. 2) : les rebuts ; postage (l. 3) : affranchissement ; a nibble (l. 6) : (ici) déchirure ; a puff of steam (l. 11) : un jet de vapeur ; outsiders (l. 15) : (ici) non-initiés ; craftsmanship (l. 16) : artisanat ; in earnest (l. 20) : véritablement ; a magnifying glass (l. 20) : une loupe.

Document 2

La source

Le document représente l’enveloppe d’un billet pour le Canadian Pacific. 1955 marque la date à laquelle la compagnie de chemin de fer a commencé l’exploitation du Canadian, un train de luxe transcontinental.

Pour en savoir plus :

Document 3

La source est la version en ligne du Chicago Tribune, fondé en 1847, et l’un des dix quotidiens les plus lus des États-Unis.

Résumé du texte

L’article présente le projet du milliardaire Elon Musk : un train dont la vitesse s’approche de celle du son et pour lequel une ligne d’essais va être construite non loin de Las Vegas.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To zip (l. 2) : (ici) transporter très rapidement ; a milestone (l. 9) : un jalon ; to rip (l. 13) : arracher ; pace (l. 17) : vitesse ; sprawling (l. 27) : vaste.

Les points de convergence

Les trois documents présentent l’importance des trains dans le passé, le présent et le futur des villes américaines et dans la vie des Américains.

Le sujet d’expression 1

Une direction possible

Une définition du « progrès technique » semble nécessaire avec différents exemples afin de donner votre avis.

On peut expliquer comment on apprend de ses erreurs du passé, qu’a posteriori on peut progresser et améliorer les techniques et les idées.

Key ideas

Everything you do is based on your own experience, so, on your past. Technical progress builds on what exists, inventions don’t come out of the blue, you observe past and present technology and improve them. Everything we do is the result of our past; forgetting it would mean forgetting ourselves.

Le sujet d’expression 2

Une direction possible

Un discours nécessite une argumentation, de la rhétorique : Elon Musk souhaitera que le public utilise ce nouveau train à Los Angeles. Il va anticiper les craintes possibles : sécurité, prix, afin de rassurer ses clients.

Key ideas

A 400-mile trip in just 50 minutes! It sounds crazy but it’s true! Have your dream home in L.A. and continue working in San Francisco, you can do it!

You may be doubtful, worrying about potential dangers and security issues that this new, almost supersonic, train may have but have no fear!

Le sujet d’expression 3

Une direction possible

Définissez d’abord l’objet de votre collection. Pensez à quelque chose qui vous intéresse, qui pourrait avoir une importance dans le temps : cartes postales, appareils électroniques obsolètes...

Key ideas

Things of the past have to be kept in our memories like in museums. They make up our history and so are part of ourselves. Your parents’ old cassette recorders were state-of-the art technology in their days. Things of the past make you go back to a time when you couldn’t imagine what the future, your present, could be.

Le sujet d’expression 4

Une direction possible

Pensez à quelques trains célèbres (The Orient Express, The Hogwarts Express, The Eurostar...), à comment les passagers créent leur propre monde à l’intérieur du train, loin du monde réel.

Key ideas

The Orient Express, The Hogwarts Express, The Polar Express: mythical trains where authors over the years have brought readers magic, murder and mayhem! When you are on the train you have no contact with the outside world, you are restricted in your movements and your activities. You are effectively in your own little world!