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.
A saga about one of the oldest and most romantic enterprises in the land—America’s railroads—The Men Who Loved Trains introduces the chieftains who have run the railroads, both those who set about grabbing power and big salaries for themselves, and others who truly loved the industry.
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.
He recounts how the chairman of CSX Corporation, who later became George W. Bush’s Treasury secretary, managed to make millions for himself while his company drifted in chaos. 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.
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.
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.
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.
What was the purpose of this 'giant folly' and whom would it benefit? Was it to exploit the rumoured wealth of little-known central African kingdoms? Was it to destroy the slave trade? To encourage commerce and settlement?
THE LUNATIC EXPRESS explores the building of this great railway in an earlier Africa of slave and ivory empires, of tribal monarchs and the vast lands that they ruled. Above all, it is the story of the white intruders whose combination of avarice, honour and tenacious courage made them a breed apart.
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.
In Twin Cities by Trolley, John Diers and Aaron Isaacs offer a rolling snapshot of Minneapolis and St. Paul from the 1880s to the 1950s, when the streetcar system shaped the growth and character of the entire metropolitan area. More than 400 photographs and 70 maps let the reader follow the tracks from Stillwater to University Avenue to Lake Minnetonka, through Uptown to downtown Minneapolis. The illustrations show nearly every neighborhood in Minneapolis and St. Paul as it was during the streetcar era.
At its peak in the 1920s and early 1930s, the Twin City Rapid Transit Company (TCRT) operated over 900 streetcars, owned 523 miles of track, and carried more than 200 million passengers annually. Recounting the rise and fall of the TCRT, Twin Cities by Trolley explores the history, organization, and operations of the streetcar system, including life as a streetcar operator and the technology, design, and construction of the cars.
Inspiring fond memories for anyone who grew up in the Twin Cities, Twin Cities by Trolley leads readers on a fascinating and enlightening tour of this bygone era in the neighborhood and the city they call home.
John W. Diers has worked in the transit industry for thirty-five years, including twenty-five years at the Twin Cities Metropolitan Transit Commission. He has written for Trains, and has served on the board of the Minnesota Transportation Museum.
Aaron Isaacs worked with Metro Transit for thirty-three years. He is the author of Twin City Lines—The 1940s and The Como-Harriet Streetcar Line. He is also the editor of Railway Museum Quarterly.
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.
The notorious Central Pacific Railroad riveted the attention of two great American writers: Ambrose Bierce and Frank Norris. In The Great American Railroad War, Dennis Drabelle tells a classic story of corporate greed vs. the power of the pen. The Central Pacific Railroad accepted US Government loans; but, when the loans fell due, the last surviving founder of the railroad avoided repayment. Bierce, at the behest of his boss William Randolph Hearst, swung into action writing over sixty stinging articles that became a signal achievement in American journalism. Later, Norris focused the first volume of his trilogy, The Octopus, on the freight cars of a thinly disguised version of the Central Pacific.
The Great American Railroad War is a lively chapter of US history pitting two of America's greatest writers against one of America's most powerful corporations.
"Readers with interests in western American history or the origins of today’s political quagmires will find much to relish. " - Publishers Weekly
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.
In the winter of 1913, Grand Central Station was officially opened and immediately became one of the most beautiful and recognizable Manhattan landmarks. In this celebration of the one hundred year old terminal, Sam Roberts of The New York Times looks back at Grand Central's conception, amazing history, and the far-reaching cultural effects of the station that continues to amaze tourists and shuttle busy commuters.
Along the way, Roberts will explore how the Manhattan transit hub truly foreshadowed the evolution of suburban expansion in the country, and fostered the nation's westward expansion and growth via the railroad.
Featuring quirky anecdotes and behind-the-scenes information, this book will allow readers to peek into the secret and unseen areas of Grand Central -- from the tunnels, to the command center, to the hidden passageways.
With stories about everything from the famous movies that have used Grand Central as a location to the celestial ceiling in the main lobby (including its stunning mistake) to the homeless denizens who reside in the building's catacombs, this is a fascinating and, exciting look at a true American institution.
The saga of Duffy's Cut focuses particularly on the Irish laborers who built the railroads. Who were these men? Who hired them? Why did they come? Perhaps most important, why did they die? Based on archaeological digs at the site and meticulous historical research, the authors argue that the annihilation of the work crew came about because of the extreme conditions of their employment, the prejudice of the surrounding community, and the vigilante violence that kept them isolated. In shedding light on this tragic chapter in American labor history, The Ghosts of Duffy's Cut also illuminates a dark side of America's rise to greatness.
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.
In this social history of the impact of railroads on American life, H. Roger Grant concentrates on the railroad’s “golden age,” from 1830 to 1930. He explores four fundamental topics—trains and travel, train stations, railroads and community life, and the legacy of railroading in America—illustrating each 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, and reviews the lasting heritage of the railroads in our culture today. This is “an engaging book of train stories” from one of railroading’s finest historians (Choice).
“Highly recommended to train buffs and others in love with early railroading.” —Library Journal
“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 . . . A work that can appeal to both casual and hardcore enthusiasts.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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.
With maps of all the Confederate railroads and contemporary photographs and facsimiles of such documents as railroad tickets, timetables, and soldiers' passes, the book will captivate railroad enthusiasts as well as readers interested in the Civil War.
The German industrial economy was extraordinarily dependent on the timely, adequate distribution of coal by railroad and inland waterway. The German National Railway in particular was the pivot of the finely balanced armaments production and distribution system created by Albert Speer. But Allied strategists did not immediately recognize this. Only in late 1944, when Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Sir Arthur Tedder built a new strategic consensus, was this vital coal/transport nexus severed. The result was the rapid paralysis of the Nazi war economy.
Mierzejewski measures the economic consequences of the bombing by considering broad indices such as armaments and coal production, railway performance, and weapons deliveries to the armed forces. In addition, he shows how individual companies in each of Germany's major economic regions fared. By drawing on previously unexamined files of private German manufacturing companies, the Reich Transportation Ministry, and Allied air intelligence agencies, Mierzejewski creates a rare combination of economic analysis and military history that provides new perspectives on the German war economy and Allied air intelligence.
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.
The Great Northern Railway highlights the changes brought on by economic, political, social, and technological advances, including world wars, increased competition from other modes of transportation, and tighter government restrictions. The first part of the book (1856-1916) examines the railway's early strategies and philosophy, relations with employees, and vigorous campaigns to develop the service area. The second part of the history (1916-1970) offers an assessment of a dramatic period of transition for the railroad-international conflicts, the Great Depression, the rise of motor vehicles, increasing labor costs, and stronger unions.
Illustrated with more than two hundred maps, period photographs, and drawings, the volume also includes appendixes listing the original track-laying history, track removals, ruling grades on main freight routes, and main line ruling grades from Minneapolis to Seattle.
Ralph W. Hidy and Muriel E. Hidy were professors of business history at Harvard Business School.
Roy V. Scott is professor of history at Mississippi State University.
Don L. Hofsommer is professor of history at St. Cloud State University.