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I'm looking for reading or book recommendations to learn more about how things were done in years past.  Specifically focused on the steam - probably turn of the 20th century to the superpower era is of most interest to me.  However, I'm also interested in all things PRR steam, diesel, or hamster wheel.

Books about other roads or more generic books about railroading of the past are that have significant merit would also be fair game.  Things like how steam engines and rail cars were engineered, control and signaling systems too, even planning, scheduling, and general operations.

Books I have already read or plan on reading very soon:
Railroads of Pennsylvania: Fragments of the Past in the Keystone Landscape - Lorett Treese
Pennsylvania Steam A to T - Paul Carleton
Pennsy Diesel Years 1 and 2 - Robert J. Yanosey
Pennsy Power I and II - Alvin R. Staufer and Bert Pennypacker
The Pennsylvania Railroad 1940s-1950s - Don Ball Jr.

Photos are great - but I would like books that talk more about specifics, what worked, what didn't.  Why things "are they way they are."

Thanks in advance!

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There are a number of first person accounts of working on the railroad and the PRR in particular which I've found to be a good read.

The Brasspounder - Sanders - telegraph agent PRR

Firing on the Pennsy - Dietz - fireman PRR

Long Island Railroad Memories - Harrison - engineer - PRR

The Mightiest of them All - Kraft - fireman WWII PRR

No Royal Road - Custer - 19th Century PRR - Altoona - this is an autobiography - first third of the book PRR specific

Voices of the Pennsylvania Railroad - Loeb - general accounts of workers on the PRR

Three very good books (they are long but well written) about construction of freight cars, passenger cars, and locomotives are the books by White

The American Railroad Freight Car: From the Wood Car Era to the Coming of Steel

The American Railroad Passenger Car

A History of the American Locomotive: Its Development 1830-1880

For a good overview of the impact of the railroads on the United States I'd recommend

All Aboard! The Railroad in American Life - Douglas

I find all types of real train books at reasonable prices at my local TCA train shows.  Other types of train shows also have many.  That is a reason I have so many and a few accidental doubles.  I also can look through them before buying unlike a purchase at Amazon of eBay, with no shipping and no bidding against others for the pain of paying more.

There are way more books on real trains than on model trains and your local library will have several to check out.

Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Being a Norfolk and Western fan, two of my favorites are:

The Last Steam Railroad in America, copyright 1995 (with Amazing photos) by O. Winston Link and text by Thomas H. Garver, 144 pages, 11-1/2" x 11" hardcover.

The Norfolk & Western: a history, copyright 1981, by E.F. Pat Striplin, 396 pages paperback



Also noteworthy for more general info about additional road names is:

American Steam Locomotives, copyright 1988, by Paul North, 192 pages, 8/1/2" x 12" hardcover.

Probably not much sought after anymore but August Derleth turned out a beauty in 1948:

The Milwaukee Road - Its First Hundred Years

Being a Derleth fan my entire life when I found out he wrote such a beast I tracked it down. Very interesting history of the initial financing and creation of the road. Derleth did not live to see the total demise and I'm thankful for that. Not many photos.

Train ON

Jim K

The copyright has expired on many old periodicals that are available from Google books, but due to age, the quality is not great.  That said, the info can be priceless.  I have found interesting stuff in Railway Engineering and in Railway Signaling.  You could also search the Library of Congress.

I would also suggest joining the PRR Technical & Historical Society; they put out a quarterly magazine chock full of the kind of info you seek.  Their magazine index has kind of fallen behind, but it will help you identify topics you want to read about in a specific quarter and year.  Then, the hard part; finding somebody willing to part with their copy.

Good luck.

Chuck

@PRR Man posted:

If you'd like insight as to what the executive thinking was at the PRR. I suggest reading 'Conquering Gotham' about the planning and construction of the tunnels and infrastructure into NYC and L.I. Excellent work.

I found the tunnel construction as detailed in Triumph V to be very interesting so your post caught my eye.  I came close to picking up a copy of Conquering Gotham , but a few of the reviews are not very flattering and said it was more about politics than engineering.  What’s your take Chris?  Does it include a good description of the engineering involved?  Drawings, maps, photos, diagrams?

@Lehigh74 posted:

I found the tunnel construction as detailed in Triumph V to be very interesting so your post caught my eye.  I came close to picking up a copy of Conquering Gotham , but a few of the reviews are not very flattering and said it was more about politics than engineering.  What’s your take Chris?  Does it include a good description of the engineering involved?  Drawings, maps, photos, diagrams?

I've also read Conquering Gotham and highly recommend it.

It does have a good deal of politics in it, but I feel this is necessary to set up the stakes of why the tunnel and Penn Station made such an impact. While reading political history is not my cup-of-tea, the politics discussed are relevant to the topic and easy to read through. Most of the political parts aren't actual politics, but rather "back door politics" - think paying off this group, winning favors with another, etc. etc.

In terms of engineering, it provides an excellent narrative of the challenges in both designing and constructing the tunnels.

It is worth the read, Jill Jonnes is an excellent author (I have also read Empire of Lights by her as well which covers Edison, Tesla, and the details behind the "current war". Best book I've ever read on the subject)

If you don't want to spend the money, try your local library. Mine has a copies of Conquering Gotham, Triumph II & III, and other RR titles that cover specific topics. Most can be found in reference rooms/ in section 385 (Dewey Decimal number for RR Transportation).

Last edited by Prr7688

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