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Coal Trains: The History of Railroading and Coal in the United States Hardcover – July 29, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

For more than a century and a half, coal mining and railroading have been irrevocably linked in the United States. In this illustrated history, Brian Solomon and Patrick Yough examine the railroads and hardware that have brought coal from mine to mill, pier, and power plant.

            From the first modest coal trains in the East to today’s high-horsepower unit-train operations in the West, Solomon and Yough present a concise history of American coal haulers illustrated with dozens of period and contemporary photographs depicting dozens of railroads and the drama of very long—and very heavy—trains powering up mountain grades and charging across barren prairies.

While exploring topics ranging from the colorful but now defunct anthracite roads of eastern Pennsylvania to today’s AC-traction diesels that work Wyoming’s thriving Powder River Basin, Solomon and Yough show how, for 150 years, the unique demands of coal—and America’s energy consumption—have prompted new railroad technologies.

From the Back Cover

From mine to mill, pier, and power plant, here is the illustrated history of the irrevocable relationship between coal mining and railroading in the United States. Authors Brian Solomon and Patrick Yough examine how the American rail industry spurred the growth of coal-mining operations and how mining prodded new rail technologies. Readers will witness giant double-headed steam locomotives moving Appalachian coal; SD70MACs hauling more than 100 cars across the prairie; and trains snaking through the Rocky Mountains to crest the Continental Divide at 10,000 feet above sea level. With a concise, authoritative history and nearly 200 photographs, this is the ultimate look at an essential chapter in American industry and railroading.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press; First edition (July 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760333599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760333594
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,742,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian Solomon is one of today's most accomplished railway historians. He has authored more than twenty-five books about railroads and motive power, and his writing and photography have been featured in the world's top railfan publications, including Trains, Railway Age, Passenger Train Journal, and RailNews. He divides his time between Massachusetts and Ireland.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Railfanning in the Southeast United States I see a lot of coal trains on the CSX and NS railroads. I have learned a few of the reporting marks, but I never really knew much about the history of coal carrying on the American Railroads.

Over Memorial Day, I visited the Elkhorn Inn in Langraff, West Virginia which is located on the NS Pocahontas Subdivision in the Appalachian Coal Belt. While up there for the weekend, I had the chance to read Coal Trains- The History of Railroading and Coal in the United States by Brian Solomon and Patrick Yough, published by Voyageur Press in 2009.

The book covers the entire United States and starts back in the mid-1800s with the first coal carriers in Pennsylvania such as the Philadelphia and Reading (P&R) carried coal via canals and inclined planes to eastern seaboard cities.

The next major section of the book covers Appalachian Coal, starting with the historical carriers such as the C&O and the N&W and moving to the modern operations of the NS and CSX. These sections were great being up in the West Virginia mountains as it helped explain the pattern of the rail lines in the region and also the history behind them.

It was fascinating to see where many of the trains I've seen down in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida come from.

The book continues west to Illinois. I never realized how much coal this region used to produce. I knew that Carbondale was the center of the coal industry there. Some coal is still mined in the region and shipped, but due to the high-sulfur content the mines are silent compared to the mid-20th Century.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was really interesting reading if you are interested in how the railroad industry is very close connected to the coal mines and how the rolling equipment has been developing through the decades in the states and threw out the world to become of what it is today, a very effective transportation hauler of coal in today's modern railroad industry.

This writer Brian Salomon has done this book also very well. This book is also very well written I must say. I couldn't find one single misspellings in it too.
The book shows in a very thorough way how it all started in the early ~1850: s with very simple cars and low axle loads to haul coal in them.
The book also explains very well how the cars and equipment for this kind of hauling have been developed through the decades to what it is today, this with lots of good illustrative pictures and with just as good comments to these pictures.
It also explains very well why this kind of hauling has been the big industry as it has become of today, in our modern railroad industry, not only in the states, but also all over the world.
The only thing that I am really missing in this book too, is a summary chapter where you can see all these different variants of cars through the years are put up in some kind of diagram or table.
This, so it will be more easy to see the small changes of development as the evolution has been going forward of this kind of equipment.

But if I summary this book overall I can really recommend it for those who want to get some really thorough information of how the history of coal traffic industry has been developed through the decades to get there of what it is today.
It is very "nutritious" of information.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The subtitle of this book fits it well... the History of Railroading and Coal in the United States. It demonstrates well the fact that each was really very dependent upon the other for evolution and survival.

The book is broken into sections based on the type of coal and where it is found. The earliest coal was anthracite, so the book begins there and moves south and west as it continues. Each section contains a history of how the coal came to be popular and which railroads moved the coal and expanded due to the coal trade.

Although this is not a complete, comprehensive look at coal and the railroads, it is a very good overview of the various railroads in each part of the country. An excellent read that gives enough detail to be fascinating without being overwhelming
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First off, I'm not really a train buff. I'm am, however, a fan of "inside baseball" and after watching the huge coal trains cross the Mississippi from St Louis to Illinois on my daily commute I got curious and after some searching I ran across this book. It gives a great history of coal hauling and the railroads from the beginnings up to modern times. The images in the book are outstanding as well. It's an easy and very informative read for a rainy afternoon.
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