In 1904, the brilliant and driven entrepreneur Henry Flagler, partner to John D. Rockefeller, dreamed of a railway connecting the island of Key West to the Florida mainland, crossing a staggering 153 miles of open ocean—an engineering challenge beyond even that of the Panama Canal. Many considered the project impossible, but build it they did. The railroad stood as a magnificent achievement for more than twenty-two years, heralded as “the Eighth Wonder of the World,” until its total destruction in 1935's deadly storm of the century.
In Last Train to Paradise, Standiford celebrates this crowning achievement of Gilded Age ambition, bringing to life a sweeping tale of the powerful forces of human ingenuity colliding with the even greater forces of nature’s wrath.
Nothing Like It in the World is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad -- the investors who risked their businesses and money; the enlightened politicians who understood its importance; the engineers and surveyors who risked, and lost, their lives; and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other laborers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks.
The Union had won the Civil War and slavery had been abolished, but Abraham Lincoln, who was an early and constant champion of railroads, would not live to see the great achievement. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes to life.
The U.S. government pitted two companies -- the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads -- against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. Locomo-tives, rails, and spikes were shipped from the East through Panama or around South America to the West or lugged across the country to the Plains. This was the last great building project to be done mostly by hand: excavating dirt, cutting through ridges, filling gorges, blasting tunnels through mountains.
At its peak, the workforce -- primarily Chinese on the Central Pacific, Irish on the Union Pacific -- approached the size of Civil War armies, with as many as fifteen thousand workers on each line. The Union Pacific was led by Thomas "Doc" Durant, Oakes Ames, and Oliver Ames, with Grenville Dodge -- America's greatest railroad builder -- as chief engineer. The Central Pacific was led by California's "Big Four": Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. The surveyors, the men who picked the route, were latter-day Lewis and Clark types who led the way through the wilderness, living off buffalo, deer, elk, and antelope.
In building a railroad, there is only one decisive spot -- the end of the track. Nothing like this great work had been seen in the world when the last spike, a golden one, was driven in at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869, as the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific tracks were joined.
Ambrose writes with power and eloquence about the brave men -- the famous and the unheralded, ordinary men doing the extraordinary -- who accomplished the spectacular feat that made the continent into a nation.
In February 1910, a monstrous blizzard centered on Washington State hit the Northwest, breaking records. The world stopped—but nowhere was the danger more terrifying than near a tiny town called Wellington, perched high in the Cascade Mountains, where a desperate situation evolved minute by minute: two trainloads of cold, hungry passengers and their crews found themselves marooned without escape, their railcars gradually being buried in the rising drifts. For days, an army of the Great Northern Railroad's most dedicated men—led by the line's legendarily courageous superintendent, James O'Neill—worked round-the-clock to rescue the trains. But the storm was unrelenting, and to the passenger's great anxiety, the railcars—their only shelter—were parked precariously on the edge of a steep ravine. As the days passed, food and coal supplies dwindled. Panic and rage set in as snow accumulated deeper and deeper on the cliffs overhanging the trains. Finally, just when escape seemed possible, the unthinkable occurred: the earth shifted and a colossal avalanche tumbled from the high pinnacles, sweeping the trains and their sleeping passengers over the steep slope and down the mountainside.
Centered on the astonishing spectacle of our nation's deadliest avalanche, Gary Krist's The White Cascade is the masterfully told story of a supremely dramatic and never-before-documented American tragedy. An adventure saga filled with colorful and engaging history, this is epic narrative storytelling at its finest.
This original, deeply researched history shows the transcontinentals to be pivotal actors in the making of modern America. But the triumphal myths of the golden spike, robber barons larger than life, and an innovative capitalism all die here. Instead we have a new vision of the Gilded Age, often darkly funny, that shows history to be rooted in failure as well as success.
As a journalist and associate editor of Fortune magazine who covered the demise of Penn Central and the creation of Conrail, Rush Loving often had a front row seat to the foibles and follies of this group of men. He uncovers intrigue, greed, lust for power, boardroom battles, and takeover wars and turns them into a page-turning story for readers.
Included is the story of how the chairman of CSX Corporation, who later became George W. Bush’s Treasury secretary, was inept as a manager but managed to make millions for himself while his company drifted in chaos. Men such as he were shy of scruples, yet there were also those who loved trains and railroading, and who played key roles in reshaping transportation in the northeastern United States. This book will delight not only the rail fan, but anyone interested in American business and history.
No invention, not even the Internet, has ever transformed the way the world traveled, worked, thought, fought, ate, drank, made love--you name it--the way the train did.
From the historic moment in September 1830 when the first train chuffed between Liverpool and Manchester, UK, there was a race to lay down tracks across the planet. Adventurers, visionaries, and rogues were attracted to grandiose projects linking distant corners of the globe in a quest for wealth, power, and national unity. The achievements were heroic: India's railway network was the biggest public works project since the building of the pyramids. But the human costs were huge. In the 1850s, six thousand workers died during the construction of the Panama railway, the world's first transcontinental line--120 for each mile of railroad. The cadavers were pickled and sold to medical schools around the world to defray costs. But for the shareholders, there were fortunes to be made, and at their peak, the railroads represented luxury almost beyond belief.
The Iron Road tells of great invention, grand vision, mind-boggling engineering, military strategy, colonial ambition, groundbreaking trade changes, and social impact--all the ways that railroads utterly changed the world in which we live.
Every American town, great or small, aspired to be connected to a railroad and by the turn of the century, almost every American lived within easy access of a station. By the early 1900s, the United States was covered in a latticework of more than 200,000 miles of railroad track and a series of magisterial termini, all built and controlled by the biggest corporations in the land. The railroads dominated the American landscape for more than a hundred years but by the middle of the twentieth century, the automobile, the truck, and the airplane had eclipsed the railroads and the nation started to forget them.
In The Great Railroad Revolution, renowned railroad expert Christian Wolmar tells the extraordinary story of the rise and the fall of the greatest of all American endeavors, and argues that the time has come for America to reclaim and celebrate its often-overlooked rail heritage.
As bestselling books like Ron Chernow's Titan and David McCullough's The Great Bridge affirm, readers are fascinated with the grand personalities and schemes that populated New York at the close of the nineteenth century. Conquering Gotham re- creates the riveting struggle waged by the great Pennsylvania Railroad to build Penn Station and the monumental system of tunnels that would connect water-bound Manhattan to the rest of the continent by rail. Historian Jill Jonnes tells a ravishing tale of snarling plutocrats, engineering feats, and backroom politicking packed with the most colorful figures of Gilded Age New York.
Conquering Gotham will be featured in an upcoming episdoe of PBS's American Experience.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Unlike the Titanic disaster, however, the Malbone Street Wreck has received scant attention from scholars and historians over the years. As is so often the case, popular accounts of the tragedy have managed to enshrine as dogma thinkgs that are absolutely untrue.
Now, Fordham University Press is proud to present Brian J. Cudahy's long-awaited account of the Malbone Street Wreck, a book that recounts the events leading up to the disaster, describes the faithful trip from its beginning to end, and reviews efforts conducted after the tragedy to fix blame and establish liability.
Could the Malbone Stret Wreck have been avoided? Clearly yes, is Cudahy's answer. Had any number of factors not combined in precisely the way that they did, the five-car train might have well continued its journey to Brighton Beach in a completely uneventful manner.
But they did happen exactly as they happened, and that is why The Malbone Street Wreck makes such arresting reading. Could another Malbone Street Wreck happen at some future time in New York, or on any other U.S. Mass Transit System? Transit professionals will have to answer this question after they read Cudahy's account of how and why November 1, 1918 has become such an important day in transportation history.
In his wide-ranging and entertaining new book, Tom Zoellner—coauthor of the New York Times–bestselling An Ordinary Man—travels the globe to tell the story of the sociological and economic impact of the railway technology that transformed the world—and could very well change it again. From the frigid trans-Siberian railroad to the antiquated Indian Railways to the Japanese-style bullet trains, Zoellner offers a stirring story of this most indispensable form of travel. A masterful narrative history, Train also explores the sleek elegance of railroads and their hypnotizing rhythms, and explains how locomotives became living symbols of sex, death, power, and romance.
The abundant pictures of the cars and amenities remind us how wonderful it was to travel by train. The extensive coverage of the original advertising materials used to lure travelers west through Indian Country in the Southwest is a unique feature to this charming book. These include train brochures, postcards, and magazine advertisements—all of which show the style and luxury afforded to the traveler on these famous streamliners. Additional chapters devoted to the art collection of the Santa Fe railroad and the depots and Harvey House hotels that are still standing in New Mexico add to the rich history and nostalgia of train travel in the Southwest.
This book will be a must-have for railroad buffs, historians, memorabilia collectors, and those interested in the history of advertising. It is a book for all those who are fascinated by the romance of the Southwest and the glory years of the Santa Fe streamliners.
One hundred forty years ago, four shopkeepers in Sacramento, California, rose to become the force behind the American transcontinental railroad, achieving along the way wealth beyond measure. To build influence and maintain power, they lied, bribed, and, when necessary, arranged for obstacles, both human and legal, to disappear. Their names were Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins, and they were known as "The Big Four" or "The Associates." Their drive for money—nothing more, nothing less—was epic. Their legacy is a university, public gardens, museums, mansions, banks, and libraries—and to a large degree, California itself. A captivating chronicle of a crucial period in American urban expansion, The Associates is a true-to-life tale of ruthless ambition, staggering greed, and the making of a nation.
Full Steam Ahead reveals how the world we live in today is entirely shaped by the rail network, charting the glorious evolution of rail transportation and how it left its mark on every aspect of life, landscape and culture. Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman brilliantly bring this revolution to life in their trademark style which engages and captivates. They explore the everyday lives and the intangible ephemeral history that make up the stories of the people who built, worked and were affected by the railways. From the very first steam train to the infrastructure that is still used in part today, they look at the men, women and children who lived and sometimes died constructing Britain's railway heritage.
As they trace the emergence of the Industrial Revolution across the country, the authors discover a hidden layer of social history, using rail transportation as a backdrop to reveal Britain’s radical change in social attitudes and culture across the 19th and early 20th centuries, including the rise of the working class, women’s rights, industrial growth, economic decline, warfare and the birth of the great British holiday. They tell the stories of the historic characters whose lives were changed by this radical mode of transport.
Beautifully illustrated with photographs and artwork throughout, Full Steam Ahead is a passionate, charming and insightful look at Britain through the lens of one of its most momentous eras.
Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow unspools the history of the beginnings of the American railroad system. By the mid-nineteenth century, settlers in Missouri and California were separated by a vast landscape that dwarfed and isolated them, conquerable only by “the demonic power of the Iron Horse and its bands of iron track.” Although the building of the great railroad is commonly known as a story of romance, adventure, and progress, it also has a dark side, as profiteers decimated American Indian tribes, exploited workers, and destroyed ecosystems. Despite this, by the turn of the twentieth century, five major railroads would span the continent. This account vividly illustrates the railroad builders’ breathtaking skill, ambition, and ingenuity. . Brown compellingly tells a high-stakes tale, an exhilarating history that still holds lessons for today. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dee Brown including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
This book provides an overview of the types of railway guns in service during World War II, with a special focus on the German railway artillery used in France, Italy and on the Eastern Front, and analyzes why railway guns largely disappeared from use following the end of the war.
In Engines of War, renowned expert Christian Wolmar tells the story of that transformation, examining all the engagements in which railways played a part from the Crimean War and American Civil War through both world wars, the Korean War, and the Cold War with its mysterious missile trains. He shows that the 'iron road' not only made armies far more mobile, but also greatly increased the scale and power of available weaponry. Wars began to be fought across wider fronts and over longer timescales, with far deadlier consequences.
From armored engines with their swiveling guns to track sabotage by way of dynamite, railway lines constructed across frozen Siberian lakes and a Boer war ambush involving Winston Churchill, Engines of War shows how the railways - a fantastic generator of wealth in peacetime - became a weapon of war exploited to the full by governments across the world.
A complete history of Amtrak operations in the heartland, this volume describes conditions that led to the passage of the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, the formation and implementation of Amtrak in 1970–71, and the major factors that have influenced Amtrak operations since its inception. More than 140 photographs and 3 maps bring to life the story as told by Sanders. This book will become indispensable to train enthusiasts through its examination of Americans’ long-standing fascination with passenger trains. When it began in 1971, many expected Amtrak to last about three years before going out of existence for lack of business, but the public’s continuing support of funding for Amtrak has enabled it and the passenger train to survive despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Beginning around 1900, the two companies transitioned from an era of growth and competition to a time when each tacitly recognized the other’s domain and sought to achieve maximum operating efficiencies by adopting new technology such as air brakes, automatic couplers, all-steel cars, and diesel locomotives. Over the next few decades, each line began to face common problems in the form of competition from other forms of transportation and government regulation; in 1968 the two businesses merged.
Branch Line Empires offers a thorough and captivating analysis of how a changing world turned competition into cooperation between two railroad industry titans.