Indiana University Press

Railroads Past and Present

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Railroads Past and Present

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Boomer

Railroad Memoirs

Introduction by Leslie Marmon Silko. Linda Grant Niemann

This classic account of self discovery and railroad life describes Linda Grant Niemann’s travels as an itinerant brakeman on the Southern Pacific. Boomer combines travelogue, Wild West adventure, sexual memoir, and closely observed ethnography. A Berkeley Ph.D., Niemann turned her back on academia and set out to master the craft of railroad brakeman, beginning a journey of sexual and subcultural exploration and traveling down a path toward recovery from alcoholism. In honest, clean prose, Niemann treks off the beaten path and into the forgotten places along the rail lines, finding true American characters with colorful pasts—and her true self as well.

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Derailed by Bankruptcy

Life after the Reading Railroad

Foreword by John C. Spychalski. Howard H. Lewis

What happened when the US government stopped investing in railroads and started investing in highways and air travel? By the late 1970s, six major eastern railroads had declared bankruptcy. Although he didn’t like trains, Howard H. Lewis became the primary lawyer for the Reading Railroad during its legendary bankruptcy case. Here, Lewis provides a frank account of the high-intensity litigation and courtroom battles over the US government’s proposal to form Conrail out of the six bankrupt railroads, which meant taking the Reading's property, leaving the railroad to prove its worth. After five grueling years, the case was ultimately settled for $186 million—three times the original offer from the US government—and Lewis became known as a champion defender of both the railroad industry and its assets.

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Electric Interurbans and the American People

Forward by Norman Carlson. H. Roger Grant

One of the most intriguing yet neglected pieces of American transportation history, electric interurban railroads were designed to assist shoppers, salesmen, farmers, commuters, and pleasure-seekers alike with short distance travel. At a time when most roads were unpaved and horse and buggy travel were costly and difficult, these streetcar-like electric cars were essential to economic growth. But why did interurban fever strike so suddenly and extensively in the Midwest and other areas? Why did thousands of people withdraw their savings to get onto what they believed to be a "gravy train?" How did officials of competing steam railroads respond to these challenges to their operations? H. Roger Grant explores the rise and fall of this fleeting form of transportation that started in the early 1900s and was defunct just 30 years later. Perfect for railfans, Electric Interurbans and the American People is a comprehensive contribution for those who love the flanged wheel.

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The Electric Pullman

A History of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company

Lawrence A. Brough

Entering an already crowded and established industry, the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company in Ohio began business with surprising success, producing well over 1,000 electric and steam railway cars—cars so durable they rarely needed to be replaced. That durability essentially put the company out of business, and it vanished from the scene as quickly as it had appeared, leaving little behind except its sturdy railway cars. The story of this highly regarded company spans just 16 years, from Niles’s incorporation in 1901 to the abandonment of railway car production and sale of the property to a firm that would briefly build engine parts during World War I. Including unpublished photographs and rosters of railway cars produced by the company and still in existence in railroad museums, Electric Pullman will appeal to railroad enthusiasts everywhere.

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Frank Julian Sprague

Electrical Inventor and Engineer

Foreword by John L. Sprague. William D. Middleton and William D. Middleton III

Frank Julian Sprague invented a system for distributing electricity to streetcars from overhead wires. Within a year, electric streetcars had begun to replace horsecars, sparking a revolution in urban transportation. Sprague (1857–1934) was an American naval officer turned inventor who worked briefly for Thomas Edison before striking out on his own. Sprague contributed to the development of the electric motor, electric railways, and electric elevators. His innovations would help transform the urban space of the 20th century, enabling cities to grow larger and skyscrapers taller. The Middletons’ generously illustrated biography is an engrossing study of the life and times of a maverick innovator.

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Indianapolis Union and Belt Railroads

Jeffrey Darbee

In an era dominated by huge railroad corporations, Indianapolis Union and Belt Railroads reveals the important role two small railroad companies had on development and progress in the Hoosier State. After Indianapolis was founded in 1821, early settlers struggled to move people and goods to and from the city, with no water transport nearby and inadequate road systems around the state. But in 1847, the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad connected the new capital city to the Ohio River and kicked off a railroad and transportation boom. Over the next seven decades, the Indiana railroad map expanded in all directions, and Indianapolis became a rail transport hub, dubbing itself the "Railroad City." Though the Pennsylvania and the New York Central Railroads traditionally dominated the Midwest and Northeast and operated the majority of rail routes radiating from Indianapolis, these companies could not have succeeded without the two small railroads that connected them.

In the downtown area, the Indianapolis Union Railway was less than 2 miles long, and out at the edge of town the Belt Railroad was only a little over 14 miles. Though small in size, the Union and the Belt had an outsized impact, both on the city’s rail network and on the city itself. It played an important role both in maximizing the efficiency and value of the city’s railroad freight and passenger services and in helping to shape the urban form of Indianapolis in ways that remain visible today.

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Iowa's Railroads

An Album

Edited by Don L. Hofsommer and H. Roger Grant

At one point in time, no place in Iowa was more than a few miles from an active line of rail track. In this splendid companion volume to Steel Trails of Hawkeyeland (IUP, 2005), H. Roger Grant and Don L. Hofsommer explore the pivotal role that railroads played in the urban development of the state as well as the symbiotic relationship Iowa and its rails shared. With more than 400 black-and-white photographs, a solid inventory of depots and locations, and new information that is sure to impress even the most well-versed railfan, this detailed history of the state's railroads—including the Chicago & North Western, Cedar Rapids & Iowa City, and the Iowa Northern—will be an essential reference for railroad fans and historians, artists, and model railroad builders.

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The Iron Road in the Prairie State

The Story of Illinois Railroading

Simon Cordery

In 1836, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas agreed on one thing: Illinois needed railroads. Over the next fifty years, the state became the nation’s railroad hub, with Chicago at its center. Speculators, greed, growth, and regulation followed as the railroad industry consumed unprecedented amounts of capital and labor. A nationwide market resulted, and the Windy City became the site of opportunities and challenges that remain to this day. In this first-of-its-kind history, full of entertaining anecdotes and colorful characters, Simon Cordery describes the explosive growth of Illinois railroads and its impact on America. Cordery shows how railroading in Illinois influenced railroad financing, the creation of a national economy, and government regulation of business. Cordery's masterful chronicle of rail development in Illinois from 1837 to 2010 reveals how the state’s expanding railroads became the foundation of the nation’s rail network.

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John Frank Stevens

Civil Engineer

Clifford Foust

One of America's foremost civil engineers of the past 150 years, John Frank Stevens was a railway reconnaissance and location engineer whose reputation was made on the Canadian Pacific and Great Northern lines. Self-taught and driven by a bulldog tenacity of purpose, he was hired by Theodore Roosevelt as chief engineer of the Panama Canal, creating a technical achievement far ahead of its time. Stevens also served for more than five years as the head of the US Advisory Commission of Railway Experts to Russia and as a consultant who contributed to many engineering feats, including the control of the Mississippi River after the disastrous floods of 1927 and construction of the Boulder (Hoover) Dam. Drawing on Stevens’s surviving personal papers and materials from projects with which he was associated, Clifford Foust offers an illuminating look into the life of an accomplished civil engineer.

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The Lake Shore Electric Railway Story

Herbert H. Harwood, Jr., and Robert S. Korach

From 1901 to 1938 the Lake Shore Electric claimed to be—and was considered by many—"The Greatest Electric Railway in the United States." It followed the shore of Lake Erie, connecting Cleveland and Toledo with a high-speed, limited-stop service and pioneered a form of intermodal transportation three decades before the rest of the industry. To millions of people the bright orange electric cars were an economical and comfortable means of escaping the urban mills and shops or the humdrum of rural life. In summers during the glory years there were never enough cars to handle the crowds. After reaching its peak in the early 1920s, however, the Lake Shore Electric suffered the fate of most of its sister lines: it was now competing with automobiles, trucks, and buses and could not rival them in convenience. The Lake Shore Electric Railway Story tells the story of this fascinating chapter in interurban transportation, including the missed opportunities that might have saved this railway.

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