Great American Railroad Stories

From Trains
Item #01300

The best railroad stories from 75 years of Trains.

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Great American Railroad Stories features articles initially published in Trains magazine over the past 75 years. Many of these popular stories have not been printed since their original appearance in the magazine. They lend rare historical insight into what it was like to ride passenger trains, work on the railroads, and grow up in an era of steam trains.

The book includes:
• Historical photos.
• The writings and reflections of founding Editor Al Kalmbach, David P. Morgan, Lucius Beebe, and other well-known contributors.
• Stirring narratives from those who actually lived their lives on the rails.


Author: From Trains
Size: 8 1/4 x 10 3/4
Pages: 256
Author Bio
From Trains magazine.
Table of Contents
Selected Contributors
Foreword by Kevin P. Keefe
Introduction by Jim Wrinn

The Traveling Salesman by Victor H. White, November 1941
Stories from 12 years of traveling the West by train

Forgotten Railroad by Linn H. Westcott, July 1942
The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek was a typical mining railroad

The Jarrett & Palmer Special by Trains staff, December 1942
Ride along on the most famous train of the 19th century

Troop-Train Rider by William Forsythe, August 1943
Accompany the railroad representative on a troop train

The Caboose by H. Reid, April 1944
An old-timer’s tales about early and memorable cabooses

Haunted Roundhouse by W. T. Coniff, June 1944
The Hudson River roundhouse holds memories of the past

The Locomotive Fireman by G. W. O’Connor, December 1945
There’s more to firing a locomotive than just shoveling coal

The Last of the Woodburners by Lucius Beebe, November 1946
An excerpt from Mixed Train Daily, a look at short line railroads

Make Mine an Upper by Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, June 1948
A roving correspondent shares his thoughts on the upper berth 

Extra 1555 West by Willard V. Anderson, May 1950
Two days on a Union Pacific freight running from Idaho to Oregon 

Memo to the Publisher by David P. Morgan, October 1950
What’s right with the airlines?

Travel Vignettes by A. C. Kalmbach, May 1951
Memories of a railroad passenger

Big One at Shed 27! by Howard Bull, November 1951
Being the fireman on a Sierra country fire train 

Our Train Was Snowbound—and How We Enjoyed It! 
By W.  S. Dulmage as told to Victor H. White, March 1952
An old-timer recalls being stuck in the snow

The Press Previews the Congressional by Wallace W. Abbey, June 1952
An inside look as the press previews the Pennsy’s Congressional

The Wild Ride of Death Valley Scotty by Wallace W. Abbey, February 1953
In 1905, the Coyote Special speeds from Los Angeles to Chicago in 46 hours 

The Black Wall by Helen Thomson, March 1953
A wall of water, the railroad, and the Johnstown flood

I Came Out of This Alive! by Hunter M. Picken, as told to Phil Vander Horck, September 1956
Given up for dead, a locomotive engineer survives a head-on crash with an 83-car freight train 

Confessions of a Train-Watcher by David P. Morgan. May 1957
The magazine’s editor explains his interest in railroading 

Second Trick at BE Tower by Richard J. Cook, October 1957
What it’s like to work the toughest tower on the division, alone, after two weeks of training 

I Rented a Railroad For $35 by Robert B. Adams, February 1959
The magazine’s business manager rents a Maine train on a whim

This Is It! by David P. Morgan, April 1960
The most scenic site in railroading, according to David P. Morgan

3:52 a.m. April 30, 1900 by Robert B. Shaw, May 1965
An unsentimental look at Casey Jones’ last run

Salute to a Different Diesel by J. David Ingles, November 1966
Alco’s PAs were big as a barn but beautiful

When It’s Short Line Time Down South by Jim Boyd, April 1969
Traveling in the footsteps of Beebe but with a diesel difference

Facing on a Single Track … Jupiter and 119 by John H. White Jr., May 1969
A look at the two locomotives that met at Promontory

Overland Diary—1869 by Cornelia E. Comstock, May 1969
A schoolteacher crosses the West by train five months after Promontory 

God Made Snow for Farmers and Artists by John Norwood, October 1969
But only cold, tired, and hungry railroaders were around—trying to survive

The Objective Was to Clean Flues and Wash Boilers by Richard D. Johnson, March 1972
A college student works nights in a roundhouse during the last days of steam 

What Happened When an Ex-Flyboy Went Railroading in the Blue Mountains by James E. Satterfield, September 1973
Before furthering his aviation career, a pilot becomes a locomotive fireman

The Best Ten-Wheeler in the Whole Wide World by W. F. Beckum Jr., June 1977
Georgia Railroad’s No. 211 becomes a family’s favorite locomotive

9,900 Tons by Bill Smith, March 1978
Ride along with a diesel engineer on the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio

Yes, I Did Want to Run a Railroad by Ron Flanary, July 1978
A railfan tries his luck at working on a railroad

A Reputation for Reliability by W. A. Gardner, January 1979
EMD really had something with its E7 diesel

Boilerwash Extra by Lloyd Arkinstall, April 1979
A young fireman’s first ride aboard a G5 Ten-Wheeler

What’s the Problem up There, Union? by Paul D. Schneider, October 1981
Working the first trick in the tower at BN’s Chicago funnel

Recollections of an Omaha Brasspounder by Ken C. Brovald, June 1982
The railroad telegrapher was a key communicator for many years

In the Violet Hour by Paul D. Schneider, March 1983
The end of the line for the Rock Island

The 10:30 by Don L. Hofsommer, October 1984
Meeting the nightly train was an important small-town ritual

The Best Train-Watching Seat by George H. Drury, January 1985
A junior high student learns more than English and arithmetic

Disaster du Jour, and Other Stories by E. W. King Jr., June 1986
A railroad man takes on the commuter operations for the Rock Island

The End by William Benning Stewart, August 1990 
Reflections on the passing of the charismatic caboose

Last Chance by John R. Crosby, August 1993
A final dash in a big T1 hits 120 mph

The Walk of a Queen by Kevin P. Keefe, March 1995
Regal as ever, Norfolk & Western No. 611 runs its last public excursion 

Twenty-Four Hours at Supai Summit by Fred W. Frailey, November 1996
Seeing how an intricate transcontinental freight system works

Goin’ Like 60! by John P. Hankey. November 2000
Why traveling at 60 mph means something 

We Brought the NYC to Its Knees by Joseph V. MacDonald, December 2000
How Notre Dame students beat a railroad at its own game

Thanks for Helping Me See the Light, Ted by Don Phillips, January 2003
A moving tribute to a friend and painter

Chicago: City of Railroads by Mark W. Hemphill and Curt Richards, July 2003
For railroads, Chicago became the most important place on earth

The Loops at Old Fort by Jim Wrinn, September 2006 
Norfolk Southern’s impressive Carolina crossing of the Blue Ridge

Where Christmas is Just Another Day by Joel Jensen, December 2009
It’s business as usual on BNSF’s Montana Division
Once I had over 20 years of railroad magazines. Many I kept because of a single story about life with the railroad. Then I moved and my reserve of railroad inspiration was donated to the library - never to be seen again.
Now, years later, I received a package from Kalmbach Publishing Co which, to my delight, contained this book which, again to my delight, contains some of those favorite tales of the rails that I gave up years ago!
Right off, an interesting aspect of this collection is 75 years of writing styles. Even if that is of no consequence to the reader, the breath of topics is fascinating: Steam to diesel; The Great Depression, World War II; economic booms and busts; the glory days of railroading into the slow death of the industry, then back into solvency after The Staggers Act. Manifest freights, crack varnish, backwoods peddlers, mainline unit trains. Out on the high iron, and deep in the roundhouse.

Examples you say? How about stories of;
• An engineer who survived a "cornfield meet" (head-on crash) with an 83-car freight train?
• An old-timer tells about living and working in cabooses.
• Memories of a Hudson River roundhouse.
• Marooned in a snowstorm!
• "The Wild Ride of Death Valley Scotty."
• Casey Jones’ last run.
• How typical was the Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek?
• Telegrapher memories.
• "Norfolk Southern’s impressive Carolina crossing of the Blue Ridge."

Almost every page has a photograph. Most are black-and-white yet many are color. Almost all of them can be considered "studio" quality. Modelers and artists will find excellent photographic source material for their subjects.
Pardon my steam locomotive reference but I am stoked for this book! Trains has created an amazing spectrum of railroading history with this book. It should provide hours of engaging reading that will inspire, inform, and entertain.
-KitMaker Network, Frederick Boucher

Kalmbach Publishing is best known for its crafts titles, but this standout gathers over seventy years of train articles from the definitive Trains Magazine - many of which have not been printed since their original appearance in the magazine. It pairs these articles with historical photos and reflections of the magazine's editors and contributors, and gathers under one cover a range of diverse and appealing train stories. Train buffs will find this the perfect item of choice for entertaining and historical reflection.
-The Midwest Book Review, James A. Cox
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