If you are interested in a picture of what it was like to live and work in Altoona in the 19th Century you might want to borrow a copy of Custer's book No Royal Road through inter-library loan and read it up to page 224. 

   He was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania in February 1861 into a reasonably well-to-do railroad family. The first several chapters of the book, while detailing experiences of his youth, are interesting from the standpoint of the picture they paint of Altoona in the 1860-70’s. His actual involvement with the railroad is summarized in the chapter Chi, The Louis and Frisco (pages 63-75) and the chapters The Turbulent Seventies through Roaring Bill (pages 93-224).

The first chapter concerning railroad experiences details his running away from home and falling in with a trio of vicious hobo thugs. The marvel is that he managed to escape from this group with his life. The chapters from pages 93-224 describe his work and training on the railroad. The rest of the book (pages 225-428) describe his post railroad work in other industries.

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