American Railroads

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Overview

Few scenes capture the American experience so eloquently as that of a lonely train chugging across the vastness of the Great Plains, or snaking through tortuous high mountain passes. Although this vision was eclipsed for a time by the rise of air travel and trucking, railroads have enjoyed a rebirth in recent years as profitable freight carriers.

A fascinating account of the rise, decline, and rebirth of railroads in the United States, John F. Stover's American Railroads traces ...

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Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. 1976 Softcover Very Good 302 page softcover with illustrations and maps. A Midway Repirint of the 1961 University of Chicago original. Unmarked, tight ... and clean. Read more Show Less

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American Railroads

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Overview

Few scenes capture the American experience so eloquently as that of a lonely train chugging across the vastness of the Great Plains, or snaking through tortuous high mountain passes. Although this vision was eclipsed for a time by the rise of air travel and trucking, railroads have enjoyed a rebirth in recent years as profitable freight carriers.

A fascinating account of the rise, decline, and rebirth of railroads in the United States, John F. Stover's American Railroads traces their history from the first lines that helped eastern seaports capture western markets to today's newly revitalized industry. Stover describes the growth of the railroads' monopoly, with the consequent need for state and federal regulations; relates the vital part played by the railroads during the Civil War and the two World Wars; and charts the railroads' decline due to the advent of air travel and trucking during the 1950s.

In two new chapters, Stover recounts the remarkable recovery of the railroads, along with other pivotal events of the industry's recent history. During the 1960s declining passenger traffic and excessive federal regulation led to the federally-financed creation of Amtrak to revive passenger service and Conrail to provide freight service on bankrupt northeastern railroads. The real savior for the railroads, though, proved to be the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which brought prosperity to rail freight carriers by substantially deregulating the industry. By 1995, renewed railroad freight traffic had reached nearly twice its former peak in 1944.

Bringing both a seasoned eye and new insights to bear on one of the most American of industries, Stover has produced the definitive history of railroads in the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
<:st> New edition of Stover's classic history (cited in ). Provides a general history of the iron horse from the very beginning through 1995, covering technical advancement, corporate power in the industry, key events and major players. Packed with specific data, from tonnage of pork transported on a certain line during a certain year to profits of various companies to the encroachment of the automobile as measured by the total number of vehicles registered in the US in each of several years. Paper edition (77658-1). Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226776569
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1978
  • Series: Midway Reprint Ser.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Editor's Foreword to the Second Edition
Editor's Foreword to the First Edition
Acknowledgments
1 "A Perfect System of Roads and Canals" 1
2 First Rails 10
3 Early Maturity: Expansion and War 35
4 The Rails Move West 61
5 Corruption, Discrimination, and Regulation 96
6 Uniformity and Consolidation 133
7 Railroads at War 167
8 Railroads in Decline after World War I 192
9 Troubles in the 1960s and 1970s 226
10 The Staggers Rail Act of 1980 Brings Prosperity and Many Mergers 245
Important Dates 263
Suggested Reading 273
Index 287
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2003

    On The Right Rail

    This is the best single-volume history of the railroad industry available today. In an accessible and interesting narrative, Prof. Stover presents the basic outlines of the growth of railroads to the present day. This is a jargon-free, enjoyable read, higly recommended for anyone seeking an introduction to, or any expert wishing for a ready reference for, the history of railroads.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Comprehensive but laborious

    John Stover's book on American Railroads is certainly a comprehensive history of the subject, and it goes into great detail. It is a great reference book for those who want to learn about how the railroads got started, how they merged and split up over the years, and how they ended up in the current state (a few large freight companies, and Amtrak with a virtual monopoly over passenger traffic). As a source of information this book is quite good.

    However, Stover's writing style can only be described as laborious. He obsesses over how many miles of rail are added by states, cities, companies, and the entire country, and also over the total value of the railroads. Although these are important, when whole pages are devoted to listing the total number of mainline miles of one state after another, or one class I railroad after another, the eyes begin to glaze over. In too many places, Stover favors digging into minutiae over covering the broader, sweeping themes of the American Railroad story. The end result is a book that reads more like a transliteration of tabular data, than an actual biography of the railroads.

    Finally, I read the e-Book version, and although the text is fine, the captions on the photographs and the tabular information was basically illegible. In this regard, it's almost a good thing that Stover writes out all the tabular data in paragraph form, because I couldn't read the tables. But as a book, it would have been better if he just referred to the tables to present the numerical data, and wrote his paragraphs about ideas, instead of about numbers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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