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Railroads and the American People

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Overview

In this social history of the impact of railroads on American life, H. Roger Grant concentrates on the railroad’s "golden age," 1830-1930. To capture the essence of the nation’s railroad experience, Grant explores four fundamental topics—trains and travel, train stations, railroads and community life, and the legacy of railroading in America—illustrating each topic with carefully chosen period illustrations. Grant recalls the lasting memories left by train travel, both of luxurious Pullman cars and the grit and ...

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Railroads and the American People

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Overview

In this social history of the impact of railroads on American life, H. Roger Grant concentrates on the railroad’s "golden age," 1830-1930. To capture the essence of the nation’s railroad experience, Grant explores four fundamental topics—trains and travel, train stations, railroads and community life, and the legacy of railroading in America—illustrating each topic with carefully chosen period illustrations. Grant recalls the lasting memories left by train travel, both of luxurious Pullman cars and the grit and grind of coal-powered locals. He discusses the important role railroads played for towns and cities across America, not only for the access they provided to distant places and distant markets but also for the depots that were a focus of community life. Finally, Grant reviews the lasting heritage of the railroads as it has been preserved in word, stone, paint, and memory. Railroads and the American People is a sparkling paean to American railroading by one of its finest historians.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this delightful and informative study, Clemson University historian Grant (Iowa’s Railroads) explores America’s “love affair with the iron horse,” approaching the subject from a primarily social viewpoint. Drawing from memoirs and anecdotes supplemented with hundreds of photos and reproductions, Grant covers the golden age of railroading (1830–1930) plus the last heyday of the ’40s and ’50s. He shows just how the railroads influenced and shaped the country, even as they evolved over time. In the first section, the author covers the development, design, and culture of the actual rolling stock. The “Stations” chapter is all about the depots and buildings that serviced and expanded the industry. In “Communities,” Grant delves into the love/hate relationship Americans have had with trains. Finally, “Legacy” explores the many ways in which the railroads left indelible marks on American society, from place names to common idioms. With plenty of detail, Grant brings a bygone era back to life, addressing everything from social and commercial appeal, racial and gender issues, safety concerns, and leaps in technology. But Grant never loses sight of the big picture and the essential role the railroads played in American life. He writes with authority and clarity in a work that can appeal to both casual and hardcore enthusiasts. (Oct.)
Wall Street Journal

"With its wealth of vignettes and more than 100 black-and-white illustrations, Railroads and the American People does a fine job of humanizing the iron horse." —Wall Street Journal

John White

"Is it necessary to comment on an established author such as Roger Grant. Heavens, he is a fine scholar and writes better than Hemingway!" —John White, author of The American Railroad Passenger Car

Choice

"Railroad historian Grant... has written an engaging book of train stories, detailing their social influence from 1830 to 1930.... Highly recommended.
" —Choice

Indiana Magazine of History

"Read this book slowly, allowing the wealth of detail—which is the book’s great strength—time to sink in. You will find yourself thinking about certain details after hours, each reader resonating with some different aspect of the map Grant creates. Re-reading, some other aspect will surface.... Grant’s book leaves you wishing for more." —Indiana Magazine of History

From the Publisher
"Consisting of hundreds of vignettes containing a wealth of detailed descriptions and remembrances, Grant’s work is highly recommended to train buffs and others in love with early railroading." —LIBRARY JOURNAL
Choice

"Railroad historian Grant... has written an engaging book of train stories, detailing their social influence from 1830 to 1930.... Highly recommended.
" —Choice

Library Journal
Grant (history, Clemson Univ.) takes a topical approach in his social history of the Golden Age of American railroads, from 1830 to 1930. Chapters cover trains, stations, communities, and the railroad's legacies. Grant's use of numerous period quotes, some lengthy, enliven and contextualize his text, as do scores of richly captioned illustrations. He covers topics such as the controversy over operating trains on Sundays, railroad memorials, and the roles of railroads during wartime. The railroads were, he shows, integral to the birth, life, and even death of many towns. To confirm the enduring legacy of the railroads, he recounts the origins and growth of the rail hobbyist and railroad preservation movement. VERDICT Consisting of hundreds of vignettes containing a wealth of detailed descriptions and remembrances, Grant's work is highly recommended to train buffs and others in love with early railroading. Readers wishing for a broader approach to American railroads would be well served by Christian Wolmar's superb survey history, reviewed below. The two works complement each other.—Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253006332
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 10/17/2012
  • Series: Railroads Past and Present Series
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 700,076
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

H. Roger Grant is Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History at Clemson University. He is author of 25 books, including Visionary Railroader (IUP, 2008) and (with Don L. Hofsommer) Iowa’s Railroads (IUP, 2009).

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue xi

1 Trains 1

2 Stations 95

3 Communities 165

4 Legacy 248

Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading 291

Index 297

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