A more substantial addition this time to American railroad history: Robert West Howard’s The Great Iron Trail. The book is about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. It’s atrociously written, as I point out on my orientation page (and I’m not the first to do so); but it’s a book of solid worth nevertheless, not so much for its detailing of the technical aspects of that great American enterprise, but mostly because it seats its subject firmly in the wider context of American history, paying attention not only to the nuts and bolts and the financial shenanigans of the principals, but to the economic, political and cultural currents of the time.
One of the most important and characteristic aspects of American history is how we managed to expand so fast over an entire continent, and a key element in that expansion was the building of America’s railroads. One would think therefore that the story of the railroads’ rôle in that expansion would be well represented online, but it isn’t really — so I intend to do my six bits’ worth in filling up that gap. Today’s item, maybe I didn’t choose so well, since it’s already online in three or four other places; but the book was so short that it took me less than 4 days to input it and proofread it, and then I include the maps, which the other sites out there kissed off, or at least those that I looked at. More on American railroad history is on its way, including of course, now that I’ve done my research a bit better, stuff not online anywhere. For now, though: John Moody’s The Railroad Builders.