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Encyclopedia of North American Railroads Hardcover – April 6, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0253349163 ISBN-10: 0253349168 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1296 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First Edition edition (April 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253349168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253349163
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Straightforward and rich with detail, each entry is written by a different expert and concludes with references. The editors have included period illustrations, photographs, and cartoons that underscore the concepts presented. Sure to interest both laypeople and scholars, this is highly recommended for public libraries and American history collections." —Library Journal



"... For anyone whose life is touched by the railroads—from engineers, scholars, transport professionals, and enthusiasts to model railroaders and the general public—this work should become the basic research tool.... Essential. All collections; all levels." —Choice



"To distill all of North American railroading into 1,312 pages is a feat in itself; that Encyclopedia of North American Railroads does it so remarkably well is nothing short of phenomenal. This could be the most ambitious railroad book to appear in 100 years! And that's just what the editors wanted." —Trains



"The book, a rich resource for the casual rail enthusiast and the professional scholar of transportation, would be an excellent addition to a public library's reference collection, especially in communities with active model railway groups and/or railway historical societies." —Reference Reviews, March 2009



"This encyclopedia is a monumental work documenting railroad history and is a critical addition for any library collection of railroads, transportation, or North American history. The appendixes alone are worth the purchase price." —Kathleen Weessies, American Reference Books Annual



"This landmark book will immediately become essential reading for anyone with an interest in railroading. Whether you're a professional railroader or a dyed-in-the wool enthusiast you're sure to find the answer in this encyclopedia." —Kevin P. Keefe, publisher, Trains magazine

About the Author

William D. Middleton is the author of more than 20 books and many hundreds of articles on rail transportation, engineering, and travel topics. He lives in Charlottsville, Virginia.

George M. Smerk taught transportation at Indiana University for more than 40 years. He has written extensively on urban transportation. The most recent of his five books is The Federal Role in Urban Mass Transportation. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Roberta L. Diehl was a sponsoring editor at Indiana University Press until her retirement. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By H. Keller on April 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The good news is that this is the most comprehensive reference book I've seen on North American railroad practices and history.

The bad news is that this was a bit off the mark, for being dubbed the Encyclopedia of North American Railroads.

My expectation was that this would be the ultimate guide to North American railroads, from A to Z. I anticipated exceptionally thorough coverage of the railroads, their histories, and maps, maps, maps.

What this volume is, is an anthology of topical entries that vary in length and subject. Included are abbreviated railroad histories, biographies, terms, social commentary, and technical aspects of railroading. In that regard, it is hard to imagine a topic about railroading practices that this volume doesn't touch on.

Some approximate page accounts include: Amtrak 1 ½, Civil engineering 26, Intermodal traffic 4 ¾, National parks 3, New York Central 3 ½, Norfolk Southern 1 ½, Railroad occupations 17 ½, Sports and railroading 2 ½, women in railroading 4, and World War Two and railroading 4 ½.

Don't throw your reproduction Rand McNally railroad atlases away just yet, because the appendix with maps leave much to be desired.

The first eight maps are Amtrak 2004, Maine area 1945, B&M and NH 1945, New England West (undated), Mohawk & Hudson (undated), Boston (modern I think), Mid-Atlantic railroads (early), and Mid-Atlantic states CA 1945.

The maps are black and white (It's a $100 book, would some color have killed them?), they appear to have most mainlines, though I suspect not all branches. Not all railroads are present in relevant maps. The Pennsylvania and New York Central have their own maps, but a Mid Atlantic states map without either, doesn't really tell a story.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By David W. Straight on March 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the best general-purpose railroad reference book I've seen. It's

oversized and 1300+ pages, lots of drawings, maps, and photographs (but

none in color). Other "encyclopedias" I've seen deal primarily with the

major railroads. This book covers major and minor railroads, history,

technology, innovations, equipment and people--from Edison, Pullman, and

Loewy to Gould, Hill, etc. There are things here I have not seen

elsewhere--such as the Lima Locomotive Works promotional specifications,

which also list prices.

This is the kind of book wherein you open it at random--a history of the

Northwestern Pacific Railroad. The following pages list railroad

occupations--engineers, dispatchers, etc--17 double-column pages. Open

the book again to John Jervis, civil engineer who became president of

the Chicago and Rock Island, and John (Casey) Jones whose death inspired

the song. There's a huge amount of material here.

You're not going to get everything in one book. If it's maps you want,

there are some good atlases showing route maps of major railroads, plus

the Rand McNally historical railroad atlases, and more recently, Steam

Powered Video's excellent regional atlases showing all lines that were

ever built. Robert Lewis has an excellent "Handbook of American Railroads"

(1952 & 1956--used copies through Amazon) that show route maps for all

the 127 class 1 railroads at that time, plus narrative, rolling stock,

profit & loss, number of passengers carried, etc. There are books that

cover just steam or diesel locomotives, books just on the C, B & Q, etc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Litke on March 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Had no details on my major interest--the accident of January 1853 that was fatal to President-elect Franklin Pierce's only surviving son, Benny. Accident was not included in table of significant accidents. Accidents were too numerous and routine in effect, for all to be included. As Middleton points out accidents later became more common and more deadly as the speed of passenger trains increased in the 1870s.

Accidents are only a small part of the encyclopedia. The long, compresensive index better summarizes the scope of the encyclopdia. If you have limited interest in specific aspects of railroading, read a copy in a library. If you want a comprehansive view of railroading from its beginning in North America to its modern status, buy this 1,281 page, size c. 8 inch by 10 inch. 48 pp, 3-column wide index. Numerous illustrations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian Kampschroer on June 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Very good for a lot of things, but a random sampling of railroads shows that that listing, at least, is not comprehensive. Valuable for most people with an interest in American railroading.
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