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

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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

Sailing to the Far Horizon Cover

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Sailing to the Far Horizon

The Restless Journey and Tragic Sinking of a Tall Ship

Pamela Sisman Bitterman

The tall ship Sofia sank off New Zealand’s North Island in February 1982, stranding its crew on disabled life rafts for five days. They struggled to survive as any realistic hope of rescue dwindled. Just a few years earlier, Pamela Sisman Bitterman was a naïve swabbie looking for adventure, signing on with a sailing co-operative taking this sixty-year-old, 123-foot, three-masted gaff-topsail schooner around the globe. The aged Baltic trader had been rescued from a wooden boat graveyard in Sweden and reincarnated as a floating commune in the 1960s. By the time Sofia went down, Bitterman had become an able seaman, promoted first to bos’un and then acting first mate, immersing herself in this life of a tall ship sailor, world traveler, and survivor.

Sailors and Traders Cover

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Sailors and Traders

A Maritime History of the Pacific Peoples

Alistair Couper

Written by a senior scholar and master mariner, Sailors and Traders is the first comprehensive account of the maritime peoples of the Pacific. It focuses on the sailors who led the exploration and settlement of the islands and New Zealand and their seagoing descendants, providing along the way new material and unique observations on traditional and commercial seagoing against the background of major periods in Pacific history. The book begins by detailing the traditions of sailors, a group whose way of life sets them apart. Like all others who live and work at sea, Pacific mariners face the challenges of an often harsh environment, endure separation from their families for months at a time, revere their vessels, and share a singular attitude to risk and death. The period of prehistoric seafaring is discussed using archaeological data, interpretations from interisland exchanges, experimental voyaging, and recent DNA analysis. Sections on the arrival of foreign exploring ships centuries later concentrate on relations between visiting sailors and maritime communities. The more intrusive influx of commercial trading and whaling ships brought new technology, weapons, and differences in the ethics of trade. The successes and failures of Polynesian chiefs who entered trading with European-type ships are recounted as neglected aspects of Pacific history. As foreign-owned commercial ships expanded in the region so did colonialism, which was accompanied by an increase in the number of sailors from metropolitan countries and a decrease in the employment of Pacific islanders on foreign ships. Eventually small-scale island entrepreneurs expanded interisland shipping, and in 1978 the regional Pacific Forum Line was created by newly independent states. This was welcomed as a symbolic return to indigenous Pacific ocean linkages. The book’s final sections detail the life of the modern Pacific seafarer. Most Pacific sailors in the global maritime labor market return home after many months at sea, bringing money, goods, a wider perspective of the world, and sometimes new diseases. Each of these impacts is analyzed, particularly in the case of Kiribati, a major supplier of labor to foreign ships.

Seascapes Cover

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Seascapes

Maritime Histories, Littoral Cultures, and Transoceanic Exchanges

Jerry H. Bentley, Renate Bridenthal, & Kären Wigen (eds.)

Historians have only recently begun to chart the experiences of maritime regions in rich detail and penetrate the historical processes at work there. Seascapes makes a major contribution to these efforts by bringing together original scholarship on historical issues arising from maritime regions around the world. The essays presented here take a variety of approaches. One group examines the material, cultural, and intellectual constructs that inform and explain historical experiences of maritime regions. Another set discusses efforts—some more successful than others—to impose political and military control over maritime regions. A third group focuses on issues of social history such as labor organization, information flows, and the development of political consciousness among subaltern populations. The final essays deal with pirates and efforts to control them in Mediterranean, Japanese, and Atlantic waters.

Seaway to the Future Cover

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Seaway to the Future

American Social Visions and the Construction of the Panama Canal

Alexander Missal

Realizing the century-old dream of a passage to India, the building of the Panama Canal was an engineering feat of colossal dimensions, a construction site filled not only with mud and water but with interpretations, meanings, and social visions. Alexander Missal’s Seaway to the Future unfolds a cultural history of the Panama Canal project, revealed in the texts and images of the era’s policymakers and commentators. Observing its creation, journalists, travel writers, and officials interpreted the Canal and its environs as a perfect society under an efficient, authoritarian management featuring innovations in technology, work, health, and consumption. For their middle-class audience in the United States, the writers depicted a foreign yet familiar place, a showcase for the future—images reinforced in the exhibits of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition that celebrated the Canal’s completion. Through these depictions, the building of the Panama Canal became a powerful symbol in a broader search for order as Americans looked to the modern age with both anxiety and anticipation.
            Like most utopian visions, this one aspired to perfection at the price of exclusion. Overlooking the West Indian laborers who built the Canal, its admirers praised the white elite that supervised and administered it. Inspired by the masculine ideal personified by President Theodore Roosevelt, writers depicted the Canal Zone as an emphatically male enterprise and Chief Engineer George W. Goethals as the emblem of a new type of social leader, the engineer-soldier, the benevolent despot. Examining these and other images of the Panama Canal project, Seaway to the Future shows how they reflected popular attitudes toward an evolving modern world and, no less important, helped shape those perceptions.

Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association

“Provide[s] a useful vantage on the world bequeathed to us by the forces that set out to put America astride the globe nearly a century ago.”—Chris Rasmussen, Bookforum

The Socialist Car Cover

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The Socialist Car

Automobility in the Eastern Bloc

edited by Lewis H. Siegelbaum

Across the Soviet Bloc, from the 1960s until the collapse of communism, the automobile exemplified the tension between the ideological imperatives of political authorities and the aspirations of ordinary citizens. For the latter, the automobile was the ticket to personal freedom and a piece of the imagined consumer paradise of the West. For the authorities, the personal car was a private, mobile space that challenged the most basic assumptions of the collectivity. The "socialist car"-and the car culture that built up around it-was the result of an always unstable compromise between official ideology, available resources, and the desires of an increasingly restless citizenry. In The Socialist Car, eleven scholars from Europe and North America explore in vivid detail the interface between the motorcar and the state socialist countries of Eastern Europe, including the USSR.

In addition to the metal, glass, upholstery, and plastic from which the Ladas, Dacias, Trabants, and other still extant but aging models were fabricated, the socialist car embodied East Europeans' longings and compromises, hopes and disappointments. The socialist car represented both aspirations of overcoming the technological gap between the capitalist first and socialist second worlds and dreams of enhancing personal mobility and status. Certain features of automobility-shortages and privileges, waiting lists and lack of readily available credit, the inadequacy of streets and highways-prevailed across the Soviet Bloc. In this collective history, the authors put aside both ridicule and nostalgia in the interest of trying to understand the socialist car in its own context.

Stealing Cars Cover

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Stealing Cars

Technology and Society from the Model T to the Gran Torino

John A. Heitmann and Rebecca H. Morales

As early as 1910 Americans recognized that cars were easy to steal and, once stolen, hard to find—especially since cars looked much alike. Model styles and colors eventually changed, but so did the means of making a stolen car disappear. Though changing license plates and serial numbers remain basic procedure, thieves have created highly sophisticated networks to disassemble stolen vehicles, distribute the parts, and/or ship the altered cars out of the country. Stealing cars has become as technologically advanced as the cars themselves. John A. Heitmann and Rebecca H. Morales’s study of automobile theft and culture examines a wide range of related topics that includes motives and methods, technological deterrents, place and space, institutional responses, international borders, and cultural reflections. Only recently have scholars begun to move their focus away from the creators and manufacturers of the automobile to its users. Stealing Cars illustrates the power of this approach, as it aims at developing a better understanding of the place of the automobile in the broad texture of American life. There are many who are fascinated by aspects of automobile history, but many more readers enjoy the topic of crime, in terms of motives, methods, escaping capture, and of course solving the crime and bringing criminals to justice. Stealing Cars brings together expertise from the history of technology and cultural history as well as city planning and transborder studies to produce a compelling and detailed work that raises questions concerning American priorities and values. Drawing on sources that include interviews, government documents, patents, sociological and psychological studies, magazines, monographs, scholarly periodicals, film, fiction, and digital gaming, Heitmann and Morales tell a story that highlights both human creativity and some of the paradoxes of American life.

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