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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > History of Science and Technology > Transportation History

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Railroad Noir Cover

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Railroad Noir

The American West at the End of the Twentieth Century

Narratives by Linda Grant Niemann. Photographs by Joel Jensen

Culled from the 20 years she spent traveling the American West as a freight brakeman and conductor, Linda Grant Niemann's Railroad Noir delves into the darker side of railroading. The 1990s were a time of crisis for workers caught in the breakup of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Niemann's tales of exhaustion, alcoholism, homelessness, and corporate blundering present a revelatory account of railroading life. Photographer Joel Jensen realizes Niemann's vision of the working West with images of cowboy bars, blue motels, and railroaders working in electrical storms, white-outs, and desert heat waves. The result is an honest, gritty, and striking collaboration.

The Railroad That Never Was Cover

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The Railroad That Never Was

Vanderbilt, Morgan, and the South Pennsylvania Railroad

Herbert H. Harwood, Jr.

Herbert H. Harwood, Jr., tells the story of one of the most infamous railroad construction projects of the late 19th century. This 200-mile line through Pennsylvania's most challenging mountain terrain was intended to form the heart of a new trunk line from the East Coast to Pittsburgh and the Midwest. Conceived in 1881 by William H. Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, and a group of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia industrialists, the South Pennsylvania Railroad was intended to break the Pennsylvania Railroad's near-monopoly in the region. The line was within a year of opening when J. P. Morgan brokered a peace treaty that aborted the project and helped bolster his position in the world of finance. The railroad right of way and its tunnels sat idle for 60 years before coming to life in the late 1930s as the original section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Based on original letters, documents, diaries, and newspaper reports, The Railroad That Never Was uncovers the truth behind this mysterious railway.

Railroads and the American People Cover

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Railroads and the American People

H. Roger Grant

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.

Railroad's for Michigan Cover

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Railroad's for Michigan

Graydon M. Meints

Railroads in the Civil War Cover

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Railroads in the Civil War

The Impact of Management on Victory and Defeat

By the time of the Civil War, the railroads had advanced to allow the movement of large numbers of troops even though railways had not yet matured into a truly integrated transportation system. Gaps between lines, incompatible track gauges, and other vexing impediments remained in both the North and South. As John E. Clark explains in this compelling study, the skill with which Union and Confederate war leaders met those problems and utilized the rail system to its fullest potential was an essential ingredient for ultimate victory.

Railroads in the Old South Cover

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Railroads in the Old South

Pursuing Progress in a Slave Society

Aaron W. Marrs

Aaron W. Marrs challenges the accepted understanding of economic and industrial growth in antebellum America with this original study of the history of the railroad in the Old South. Drawing from both familiar and overlooked sources, such as the personal diaries of Southern travelers, papers and letters from civil engineers, corporate records, and contemporary newspaper accounts, Marrs skillfully expands on the conventional business histories that have characterized scholarship in this field. He situates railroads in the fullness of antebellum life, examining how slavery, technology, labor, social convention, and the environment shaped their evolution. Far from seeing the Old South as backward and premodern, Marrs finds evidence of urban life, industry, and entrepreneurship throughout the region. But these signs of progress existed alongside efforts to preserve traditional ways of life. Railroads exemplified Southerners' pursuit of progress on their own terms: developing modern transportation while retaining a conservative social order. Railroads in the Old South demonstrates that a simple approach to the Old South fails to do justice to its complexity and contradictions.

Railroads of Meridian Cover

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Railroads of Meridian

J. Parker Lamb. With contributions by David H. Bridges and David S. Price

This generously illustrated narrative follows the evolution of dozens of separate railroads in the Meridian, Mississippi, area from the destruction of the town's rail facilities in the 1850s through the current era of large-scale consolidation. Presently, there are only seven mega-size rail systems in the United States, three of which serve Meridian, making it an important junction on one of the nation's four major transcontinental routes. The recent creation of a nationally prominent high-speed freight line between Meridian and Shreveport, the "Meridian Speedway," has allowed the Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, and Norfolk Southern railroads to offer the shortest rail route across the continent for Asia-US-Europe transportation.

The Rock Island Line Cover

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The Rock Island Line

Bill Marvel

This richly illustrated volume tells the story of a legendary railroad whose tracks spanned the Midwest, serving farms and small-town America for more than 140 years. One of the earliest railroads to build westward from Chicago, it was the first to span the Mississippi, advancing the frontier, bringing settlers into the West, and hauling their crops to market. Rock Island’s celebrated Rocket passenger trains also set a standard for speed and service, with suburban runs as familiar to Windy City commuters as the Loop. For most of its existence, the Rock battled competitors much larger and richer than itself and when it finally succumbed, the result was one of the largest business bankruptcies ever. Today, as its engines and stock travel the busy main lines operated by other carriers, the Rock Island Line lives on in the hearts of those whom it employed and served.

The Routes Not Taken Cover

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The Routes Not Taken

A Trip Through New York City's Unbuilt Subway System

Joseph B. Raskin is an independent scholar. He is widely regarded as an authority on unbuilt subway systems, on which he has been interviewed by the New York Times. He is Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations for MTA New York City Trans

Robert A. Van Wyck, mayor of the greater city of New York, broke ground for the first subway line by City Hall on March 24, 1900. It took four years, six months, and twenty-three days to build the line from City Hall to West 145th Street in Harlem. Things rarely went that quickly ever again. The Routes Not Taken explores the often dramatic stories behind the unbuilt or unfinished subway lines, shedding light on a significant part of New York City’s history that has been almost completely ignored until now. Home to one of the world’s largest subway systems, New York City made constant efforts to expand its underground labyrinth, efforts that were often met with unexpected obstacles: financial shortfalls, clashing agendas of mayors and borough presidents, battles with local community groups, and much more. After discovering a copy of the 1929 subway expansion map, author Joseph Raskin began his own investigation into the city’s underbelly. Using research from libraries, historical societies, and transit agencies throughout the New York metropolitan area, Raskin provides a fascinating history of the Big Apple’s unfinished business that until now has been only tantalizing stories retold by public-transit experts. The Routes Not Taken sheds light on the tunnels and stations that were completed for lines that were never fulfilled: the efforts to expand the Hudson tubes into a fullfledged subway; the Flushing line, and why it never made it past Flushing; a platform underneath Brooklyn’s Nevins Street station that has remained unused for more than a century; and the 2nd Avenue line—long the symbol of dashed dreams—deferred countless times since the original plans were presented in 1929. Raskin also reveals the figures and personalities involved, including why Fiorello LaGuardia could not grasp the importance of subway lines and why Robert Moses found them to be old and boring. By focusing on the unbuilt lines, Raskin illustrates how the existing subway system is actually a Herculean feat of countless political compromises. Filled with illustrations of the extravagant expansion plans, The Routes Not Taken provides an enduring contribution to the transportation history of New York City.

Roy D. Chapin Cover

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Roy D. Chapin

The Man Behind the Hudson Motor Car Company

J. C. Long With an Introduction by Charles K. Hyde

"John Cuthbert Long’s Roy D. Chapin is a thorough and detailed biography of a remarkable, but little-known Detroit automobile industry pioneer. Historians should include Roy Dikeman Chapin (February 23, 1880–February 16, 1936) in any listing of significant American auto industry pioneers, along with the Duryea brothers, Ransom E. Olds, Henry Leland, Henry Ford, William C. Durant, and the Dodge brothers. Outside the cloister of automotive historians, Roy Chapin is an unknown. This is in part because no company or car bore his name. Unlike many contemporary auto pioneers, Roy Chapin was a modest man who did not promote himself. Even Long’s superb biography of Chapin is not well-known because it was privately printed in 1945 with a small press run. In reprinting this volume, Wayne State University Press is making an important contribution to automotive history." —From the introduction by Charles K. Hyde, Department of History, Wayne State University

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