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Book Review
Railroad Stories
Great American Railroad Stories
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Once I had over 20 years of railroad magazines. Many I kept because of a single story about life with the railroad. Then I moved and my reserve of railroad inspiration was donated to the library - never to be seen again.

Now, years later, I received a package from Kalmbach Publishing Co which, to my delight, contained this book which, again to my delight, contains some of those favorite tales of the rails that I gave up years ago! According to Kalmbach Publishing;
    Great American Railroad Stories features articles initially published in Trains magazine over the past 75 years. Many of these popular stories have not been printed since their original appearance in the magazine. They lend rare historical insight into what it was like to ride passenger trains, work on the railroads, and grow up in an era of steam trains. The book includes:
    • Historical photos.
    • The writings and reflections of founding Editor Al Kalmbach, David P. Morgan, Lucius Beebe, and other well-known contributors.
    • Stirring narratives from those who actually lived their lives on the rails.

This engaging softcover book (8 1/4" x 10" 3/4") is authored by numerous Trains contributors, related through 256 pages, and catalogued as ISBN:9781627001823.

Right off, an interesting aspect of this collection is 75 years of writing styles. Even if that is of no consequence to the reader, the breath of topics is fascinating: Steam to diesel; The Great Depression, World War II; economic booms and busts; the glory days of railroading into the slow death of the industry, then back into solvency after The Staggers Act. Manifest freights, crack varnish, backwoods peddlers, mainline unit trains. Out on the high iron, and deep in the roundhouse.

Examples you say? How about stories of;

• An engineer who survived a "cornfield meet" (head-on crash) with an 83-car freight train?
• An old-timer tells about living and working in cabooses.
• Memories of a Hudson River roundhouse.
• Marooned in a snowstorm!
• "The Wild Ride of Death Valley Scotty."
• Casey Jones’ last run.
• How typical was the Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek?
• Telegrapher memories.
• "Norfolk Southern’s impressive Carolina crossing of the Blue Ridge."

Table of Contents
A great deal is within!
    The Traveling Salesman by Victor H. White, November 1941
    Stories from 12 years of traveling the West by train

    Forgotten Railroad by Linn H. Westcott, July 1942
    The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek was a typical mining railroad

    The Jarrett & Palmer Special by Trains staff, December 1942
    Ride along on the most famous train of the 19th century

    Troop-Train Rider by William Forsythe, August 1943
    Accompany the railroad representative on a troop train

    The Caboose by H. Reid, April 1944
    An old-timer’s tales about early and memorable cabooses

    Haunted Roundhouse by W. T. Coniff, June 1944
    The Hudson River roundhouse holds memories of the past

    The Locomotive Fireman by G. W. O’Connor, December 1945
    There’s more to firing a locomotive than just shoveling coal

    The Last of the Woodburners by Lucius Beebe, November 1946
    An excerpt from Mixed Train Daily, a look at short line railroads

    Make Mine an Upper by Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, June 1948
    A roving correspondent shares his thoughts on the upper berth

    Extra 1555 West by Willard V. Anderson, May 1950
    Two days on a Union Pacific freight running from Idaho to Oregon

    Memo to the Publisher by David P. Morgan, October 1950
    What’s right with the airlines?

    Travel Vignettes by A. C. Kalmbach, May 1951
    Memories of a railroad passenger

    Big One at Shed 27! by Howard Bull, November 1951
    Being the fireman on a Sierra country fire train

    Our Train Was Snowbound—and How We Enjoyed It!
    By W. S. Dulmage as told to Victor H. White, March 1952
    An old-timer recalls being stuck in the snow

    The Press Previews the Congressional by Wallace W. Abbey, June 1952
    An inside look as the press previews the Pennsy’s Congressional

    The Wild Ride of Death Valley Scotty by Wallace W. Abbey, February 1953
    In 1905, the Coyote Special speeds from Los Angeles to Chicago in 46 hours

    The Black Wall by Helen Thomson, March 1953
    A wall of water, the railroad, and the Johnstown flood

    I Came Out of This Alive! by Hunter M. Picken, as told to Phil Vander Horck, September 1956
    Given up for dead, a locomotive engineer survives a head-on crash with an 83-car freight train

    Confessions of a Train-Watcher by David P. Morgan. May 1957
    The magazine’s editor explains his interest in railroading

    Second Trick at BE Tower by Richard J. Cook, October 1957
    What it’s like to work the toughest tower on the division, alone, after two weeks of training

    I Rented a Railroad For $35 by Robert B. Adams, February 1959
    The magazine’s business manager rents a Maine train on a whim

    This Is It! by David P. Morgan, April 1960
    The most scenic site in railroading, according to David P. Morgan

    3:52 a.m. April 30, 1900 by Robert B. Shaw, May 1965
    An unsentimental look at Casey Jones’ last run

    Salute to a Different Diesel by J. David Ingles, November 1966
    Alco’s PAs were big as a barn but beautiful

    When It’s Short Line Time Down South by Jim Boyd, April 1969
    Traveling in the footsteps of Beebe but with a diesel difference

    Facing on a Single Track … Jupiter and 119 by John H. White Jr., May 1969
    A look at the two locomotives that met at Promontory

    Overland Diary—1869 by Cornelia E. Comstock, May 1969
    A schoolteacher crosses the West by train five months after Promontory

    God Made Snow for Farmers and Artists by John Norwood, October 1969
    But only cold, tired, and hungry railroaders were around—trying to survive

    The Objective Was to Clean Flues and Wash Boilers by Richard D. Johnson, March 1972
    A college student works nights in a roundhouse during the last days of steam

    What Happened When an Ex-Flyboy Went Railroading in the Blue Mountains by James E. Satterfield, September 1973
    Before furthering his aviation career, a pilot becomes a locomotive fireman

    The Best Ten-Wheeler in the Whole Wide World by W. F. Beckum Jr., June 1977
    Georgia Railroad’s No. 211 becomes a family’s favorite locomotive

    9,900 Tons by Bill Smith, March 1978
    Ride along with a diesel engineer on the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio

    Yes, I Did Want to Run a Railroad by Ron Flanary, July 1978
    A railfan tries his luck at working on a railroad

    A Reputation for Reliability by W. A. Gardner, January 1979
    EMD really had something with its E7 diesel

    Boilerwash Extra by Lloyd Arkinstall, April 1979
    A young fireman’s first ride aboard a G5 Ten-Wheeler

    What’s the Problem up There, Union? by Paul D. Schneider, October 1981
    Working the first trick in the tower at BN’s Chicago funnel

    Recollections of an Omaha Brasspounder by Ken C. Brovald, June 1982
    The railroad telegrapher was a key communicator for many years

    In the Violet Hour by Paul D. Schneider, March 1983
    The end of the line for the Rock Island

    The 10:30 by Don L. Hofsommer, October 1984
    Meeting the nightly train was an important small-town ritual

    The Best Train-Watching Seat by George H. Drury, January 1985
    A junior high student learns more than English and arithmetic

    Disaster du Jour, and Other Stories by E. W. King Jr., June 1986
    A railroad man takes on the commuter operations for the Rock Island

    The End by William Benning Stewart, August 1990
    Reflections on the passing of the charismatic caboose

    Last Chance by John R. Crosby, August 1993
    A final dash in a big T1 hits 120 mph

    The Walk of a Queen by Kevin P. Keefe, March 1995
    Regal as ever, Norfolk & Western No. 611 runs its last public excursion

    Twenty-Four Hours at Supai Summit by Fred W. Frailey, November 1996
    Seeing how an intricate transcontinental freight system works

    Goin’ Like 60! by John P. Hankey. November 2000
    Why traveling at 60 mph means something

    We Brought the NYC to Its Knees by Joseph V. MacDonald, December 2000
    How Notre Dame students beat a railroad at its own game

    Thanks for Helping Me See the Light, Ted by Don Phillips, January 2003
    A moving tribute to a friend and painter

    Chicago: City of Railroads by Mark W. Hemphill and Curt Richards, July 2003
    For railroads, Chicago became the most important place on earth

    The Loops at Old Fort by Jim Wrinn, September 2006
    Norfolk Southern’s impressive Carolina crossing of the Blue Ridge

    Where Christmas is Just Another Day by Joel Jensen, December 2009
    It’s business as usual on BNSF’s Montana Division

Almost every page has a photograph. Most are black-and-white yet many are color. Almost all of them can be considered "studio" quality. Modelers and artists will find excellent photographic source material for their subjects.

Pardon my steam locomotive reference but I am stoked for this book! Trains has created an amazing spectrum of railroading history with this book. It should provide hours of engaging reading that will inspire, inform, and entertain.

We thank Kalmbach Publishing for providing this book for review. Please tell vendors and retailers that you saw it here - on RailRoadModeling.
Highs: Modelers and artists will find excellent photographic source material for their subjects.
Lows: De minims.
Verdict: An amazing spectrum of railroading history with this book. It should provide hours of engaging reading that will inspire, inform, and entertain.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 01300
  Suggested Retail: $24.99
  PUBLISHED: Nov 04, 2014

Our Thanks to Kalmbach Publishing Co.!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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