Erie Lackawanna: The Death of an American Railroad, 1938-1992

Erie Lackawanna: The Death of an American Railroad, 1938-1992

by H. Grant
     
 

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This 50-year saga of the "Weary Erie" goes far beyond describing in brilliant detail the turbulent last decades of a colorful, spunky, and innovative railroad. As the author vividly shows, the Erie possessed an uncommonly interesting history. For a brief time, it was the longest rail artery in the United States, hailed as "the most stupendous engineering feat ever

Overview

This 50-year saga of the "Weary Erie" goes far beyond describing in brilliant detail the turbulent last decades of a colorful, spunky, and innovative railroad. As the author vividly shows, the Erie possessed an uncommonly interesting history. For a brief time, it was the longest rail artery in the United States, hailed as "the most stupendous engineering feat ever attempted in America." It pioneered many innovations even after its opening in 1851, notably with the use of the telegraph for traffic control.

The present volume also tells us much about what happened to American railroading, especially in the East, during this period: technological change, government over-regulation, corporate mergers, union "featherbedding," uneven executive leadership, and changing patterns of travel and business. Step by step, the author reveals how the problems faced by the Erie became so numerous and complex that financial collapse and liquidation were inevitable results.

Throughout, the author draws on the abundant records of the Erie and Erie Lackawanna and on dozens of interviews with employees, bankers, lawyers, and industry official who cooperated in telling the story of the Erie's last years "the way it was." The book is illustrated with 45 photographs and drawings and 4 maps.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This important work is based on a mass of new material uncovered by the author, notably extensive oral histories. He skillfully integrates this new information into the story of the Erie Lackawanna's lingering death, filling in a good many gaps and bringing the importance of personalities in the corporate world into play. In the process, he explains the plight of all eastern railroads. Since Grant writes with clarity and flow, the book is a 'good read.'"—James A. Ward, University of Tennessee

"Written in a style that pulls the reader along like a Tom Clancy novel, this book offers a management-level view of the failed struggles of two major railroads to survive. Because this was such a crucial era in American railroading, Grant's account offers a useful vantage point from which to view all North American railroads during that period. ... This is an account that pulls no punches."—Railfan and Railroad

"The definitive history of the Erie Lackawanna."—Library Journal

"Not merely a pleasure to read, this is an outstanding study of the railroad industry. ... Grant clearly describes the realities within which railroads operate and to which they must respond."—Choice

Library Journal
Grant (The Living Depot, Univ. of Iowa Pr., 1990) has written what may be the definitive history of the Erie Lackawanna Railroad (or the "Weary Erie" before the 1960 merger) from the Erie's origins in the 1830s until its final liquidation in 1992. With the detail that should appeal to railroad buffs, this lengthy narrative and analysis covers the many factors responsible for the Erie's up-and-down fortunes over the years (including five bankruptcies) until financial collapse led to the Erie Lackawanna's absorption in 1976 by Conrail, a quasi-governmental freight railroad system. Along the way, Grant writes of the careers and business strategies of the Erie's top executives and comments on its technological innovations as well as the business decisions, labor problems, and governmental regulations that finally brought down the railroad. Suitable for academic libraries with large railroad collections.-Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804727983
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
Publication date:
12/01/1996
Series:
TRAINS
Edition description:
1
Pages:
308
Sales rank:
843,327
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

H.Roger Grant is Professor of History at the University of Akron. He is the author of several books on American history and railroad industry, including, The Corn Belt Route: A History of the Chicago Great Western Railroad Company and We Took the Train.

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