STATION, RAMLEH (RAMLA), PALESTINE — On the direct route from Jaffa to Jerusalem is the town of Ramleh, which is said to occupy the site of the ancient Arimathea. Under the Arabs in the ninth and tenth centuries it was a prosperous and important place, and was larger than Jerusalem itself. Today it contains about 3,000 inhabitants, of whom 1,000 are Christians of the Greek church. There is an old Latin monastery here, where travelers are lodged and fed with comparative comfort. A lofty tower also rises above the town and once formed part of an enormous Mosque. The country around Ramleh is remarkably fertile. The vegetation is luxuriant. Olive trees abound, and with proper cultivation the fields in this part of Palestine could produce crops of which any country might be proud. The most astounding innovation here in recent times has been the railroad, which has already advanced beyond Ramleh and will eventually connect Jaffa with Jerusalem, thirty-three miles away! Within a short time, therefore, the old methods of horse-back riding and carriages over this part of the Holy Land will be discarded. A locomotive will transport tourists across the plain of Sharon; a railroad bridge will span the brook where David chose the smooth stones for his conflict with Goliath; and the conductor may call out to passengers, “Ramleh, residence of Joseph of Arimathea. Five minutes for refreshments!” On the ground of sentiment, however. most people will regret to have a locomotive’s whistle wake the echoes of Mount Zion. Here it is the old which interests us, not the new; and steam-cars seem unsuited to the land of Abraham. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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