Set Up Running: The Life of a Pennsylvania Railroad Engineman, 1904-1949

( 5 )

Overview

Set Up Running tells the story of a Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive engineer, Oscar P. Orr, who operated steam-powered freight and passenger trains throughout central Pennsylvania and south-central New York. From 1904 to 1949, Orr sat at the controls of many famous steam locomotives; moved trains loaded with coal, perishables, and other freight; and encountered virtually every situation a locomotive engineer of that era could expect to see.

John W. (Jack) Orr, Oscar’s son, ...

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Overview

Set Up Running tells the story of a Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive engineer, Oscar P. Orr, who operated steam-powered freight and passenger trains throughout central Pennsylvania and south-central New York. From 1904 to 1949, Orr sat at the controls of many famous steam locomotives; moved trains loaded with coal, perishables, and other freight; and encountered virtually every situation a locomotive engineer of that era could expect to see.

John W. (Jack) Orr, Oscar’s son, tells his father’s story, which begins at the Central Steam Heating Plant in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Oscar operated nearly every kind of steam locomotive the Pennsylvania Railroad owned, working from the bottom of the roster to the top position (number one in seniority). Orr has an ear for detail and a vivid memory. He tells about his father’s first encounter with an automobile along the right-of-way, about what it was like to operate a train in a blizzard, and about the difficulties railroadmen encountered in stopping a trainload of tank cars loaded with oil in order to take on water and coal—and many other stories.

This compelling railroad history will enthrall not only everyone in the railroad community but also the general reader interested in railroads and trains, past and present.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A Penn State graduate relates the story of his father, who operated steam-powered trains throughout Central Pennsylvania and South Central New York in the first half of the 20th century. Orr chronicles his first encounter with an auto along the right-of-way; operation of a train in a blizzard; and changes through the roaring 1920s, Depression, and war years. Includes several period photos and a glossary of railroad jargon. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From The Critics
Set Up Running: The Life Of A Pennsylvania Railroad Engineman, 1904-1949 is the personal story of Oscar P. Orr, who operated steam-powered freight and passenger trains throughout Central Pennsylvania and South Central New York. For forty-five years, Oscar sat at the controls of many famous stem locomotives; moved trains loaded with all manner of freight from coal to perishables, and encountered virtually every situation a locomotive engineer confronting railroad transportation in the first half of the twentieth century. Biographer John Orr is Oscar's son and tells his father's life as a railroad engineer with candor and attention to detail (including his father's first encounter with an automobile along the right-of-way) that weaves anecdote with compelling railroad history. Set Up Running is a "must read" for every dedicated railroad buff!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271027418
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Series: A Keystone Book ?
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 692,040
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

John W. Orr graduated from Penn State in 1949. Recently deceased, he resided in Ralston, Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
Preface ix
Introduction xiii
1 The Beginnings, 1904 1
2 Firing and Setting Up Running, 1907-1909 13
3 Encountering Obstacles, 1912 39
4 Changes During the Roaring Twenties 71
5 The Depression Years 139
6 Constant Changes During the Mid-1930s 217
7 End of the Great Depression and the World War II Years, 1937-1947 269
8 The Final Fast-Freight Crew 335
Glossary 367
For Further Reading 375
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2014

    Most railroad books appeal to the rail enthusiast by showing lot

    Most railroad books appeal to the rail enthusiast by showing lots of pictures of trains, locomotives and related material, along with accompanying descriptions and occasionally, some historical background.  This book, however, shows what daily life was like on a big railroad in the first half of the 20th century.  The author's amazingly detailed account  brings to life all those pictures you see in the other books.  The reader rides with Oscar Orr as he handles most of the different classes of steam locomotives employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad.  His opinions of them are recorded, and suddenly all those pictures in the other books take on new meaning.  The reader is in the cab of Oscar's locomotive when he first encounters an automobile and, more tragically, when his train hits one.  The reader will also learn what the daily grind for an engineer was like; what happened when things went wrong, for example, or what had to be done when snowdrifts blocked the line.  There is some technical jargon so if you aren't interested in railroads, you probably won't find this book worth your while.  However, if you're interested in railroad history and the Pennsylvania Railroad in particular, this book is pure gold.  You won't be able to put it down. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2008

    A Good Railroad Read

    Students of the Pennsylvania Railroad, or any railroad for that matter, will find this book both entertaining and highly informative. The author provides a wealth of detail and an unusually keen level of observation to show the railroad in microcosm. The reader will learn what it was like to work on a large railroad in good times and bad. Vignettes of daily railroad life: how rules were bent, accidents avoided (or not), how an engineman tried to strike a balance between work and family, all lend a human and sometimes amusing touch. Those interested in the operation of steam locomotives will find an enormous amount of unusual information. A 'must-read' for any serious railroad buff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2008

    A Terrific Read

    Most books about railroad history are heavy on pictures and descriptions of steam locomotives and the trains they hauled. After you've seen a few of them, they all seem alike. This one is different. If you want to know what it was like to work on a railroad as an engineer, or why things were done a certain way, or what happened when they weren't done properly, and how the railroad was run on a daily basis, then this is your book. If your favorite railroad is the Pennsylvania, as mine is, then it's an absolute must-buy. Anyone interested in the heyday of railroads will find this book entertaining and full of interesting facts and observations. My only regret is that it had to end. I can't wait to read it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2006

    You feel the steam!!

    Jack Orr tells his fathers story and what a fine job he has done.You 'feel the steam' with every word of this book. A must read for every railfan and student of the great generation alike.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2001

    An engrossing story of a Locomotive Engineer

    If you liked 'Brownie the Boomer' or 'Life on a Locomotive', you will enjoy 'Set Up Running'. This book is written by the son of Oscar Orr, a Pennsylvania Railroad engineer, who worked from 1904 to 1949. It is amazing that Orr's son has collected so much detail about his father's work, including specifics about various runs and the locomotives operated by his father. The book goes into great detail telling about Orr's experiences as an engineer, and unlike some other books, actually mentions some of the times rules were stretched or broken, including a violation of Rule G (no drinking) by crew members hauling whiskey, working virtually around the clock with a crew trying to make extra money, and mistakes made by inexperienced crew members. The book gives a lot of information about train movements and operations, but also tells about the people with whom Orr worked. It describes the different classes of locomotives on which Orr worked, and the characteristics of each locomotive. An unusual book filled with a great deal of information about what it was like to be a locomotive engineer.

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