Railroads Across North America

Railroads Across North America

by Claude Wiatrowski


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In this lavish celebration of the glory and grandeur that are the great North American railroads, author Claude Wiatrowski examines the development of the industry with nearly 90 features covering more than three dozen railroads past and present, as well as dozens more subjects, including railroads in film and music, specialty railroads, life and travel on the rails, and much more.

Wiatrowski, a rail author and award winning video producer, generously illustrates the text with an array of material, including vintage black and white and modern color photographs, period advertisements, maps, brochures, timetables, postcards, posters, menus, and other collectibles—nearly 600 pieces in all, many of them rarely seen! Also included are a list of Web resources and contact information for museums, preserved railways, and historic sites throughout the United States and Canada.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785829676
Publisher: Book Sales
Publication date: 11/15/2012
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 179,321
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 12.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Claude Wiatrowski has written or contributed photos to several books on railroading as well as Colorado history. He is the author of Railroads of Colorado, published by Voyageur Press in 2002. Dr. Wiatrowski also produces videos on historic railroads. His productions have won Telly and Teddy awards and one was selected for the Library of Congress Local Legacies Program. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1 The Right Stuff

Chapter 2 Robber Baron Boom

Chapter 3 Depression and Decline

Chapter 4 Integration and Disintegration

Chapter 5 The Right Stuff, Again

Appendix A Historical Societies and Other Railroad Organizations Appendix B Preserved Railways, Museums, and Historic Sites


Author Biography




What is it that quickens the pulse when a train passes? If you have ever stood near a high-speed train (but not too close!), you know of the roar of engines, the blurring of colors, the shaking of the ground. The experience is all the more moving if a steam locomotive is pulling the train. The smells of coal smoke and hot oil. The shriek of the whistle. The clanking of the rods. The rapid-fire sound of the exhaust. It is no wonder that a large community of fans follows these steel monsters.

Magazines are printed. Books are published. Videos, computer games, and simulations are produced. Miniature railroad empires grow in basements! I understand that fans exist for all modes of transportation. But airplanes are too high to see en route. Neither trucks nor buses have the size and majesty of a train. Ships spend most of their time on the high seas. Perhaps antique automobiles come closest to trains in inspiring aficionados.

It's not just the railfan who has an interest. Almost everyone follows the trials and tribulations of the U.S. railroad passenger service. Though they may not ride trains, they are sorry to see them decline, because they know they are such an important part of U.S. history. They also have a vague, and quite correct, feeling that passenger trains should be making their travels easier if only they worked. Anyone who has traveled the European railroad systems knows that U.S. policy toward rail transport is seriously lacking.

I know that you are interested in trains or you wouldn't be holding this book in your hands. The basic thread of the text, presented in five chapters, is a short history of U.S. railroads from their verybeginnings to the present. Scattered among those chapters are dozens upon dozens of sidebars covering everything from Circus and Carnival Trains to Snow Plows. If you are not up to reading every word, you might page through the book and chose sidebars of interest to you. You might enjoy topics of general interest such as Streamliners or Steam Locomotives. You may want to read about a particular railroad that served, or still serves, the area in which you live or in which you were born. Or, consider reading the captions of photos you find compelling. Many tell short, interesting stories about the image they describe.

The history of U.S. and Canadian railroads would fill volumes. Every topic in this book has been documented by one or more books and videos. Thus, this short volume is an abbreviated look at U.S. and Canadian railroads. I hope you find the time to visit a preserved railway or railroad museum-some are listed in Appendix B-and experience how railroads once impacted the daily life of Americans. Many such railroads and museums have gift shops that feature a variety of additional books and videos on railroad subjects. Model railroad hobby shops and bookstores (physical or Web-based) are additional sources for materials on the subject. Buy a few railroad magazines just to scan the advertisements. You'll find tour companies ready to send you riding trains in Colorado or China!

Wave at a train. The engineer will almost surely wave back. There is a long tradition of friendly communication between train watchers and railroad employees. Compare those friendly waves to the kinds of hand gestures sometimes exchanged between automobile drivers! For those of you who remember railroads in their prime, I hope this book brings back happy memories. For younger readers, who know railroads only as coal trains blocking their automobiles, you will find this book a pleasant surprise as you discover the many facets of railroading.

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Railroads Across North America 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Present for my husband for his birthday who is a train lover, great book, great photos-loves it