American Train Depot & Roundhouse, the by Halberstadt with Dust Jacket
American Train Depot & Roundhouse, the by Halberstadt with Dust Jacket

American Train Depot & Roundhouse, the by Halberstadt with Dust Jacket

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American Train Depot & Roundhouse, the by Halberstadt with Dust Jacket
The American Train Depot & Roundhouse  by Hans and April Halberstadt  Dust Jacket.  Copyright 1995.  
192 pages
A colorful and nostalgic look at the train depot.. Covers the massive union stations in big cities and the quaint rural stations plus the steam locomotive's shelter and shop -- the roundhouse.

"By the Civil War, in about the 1860s, the single-story building we know as a railroad depot had developed most of its unique characteristics. This profile remains so constant that we still easily recognize a railroad depot in the landscape. even when it has been moved away from the tracks and modified as a residence, restaurant, or museum.
"Its unique characteristics define it as a rectangular building with the longer side parallel to the railroad tracks. It is usually a single-story building without stairs or raised entryways, so baggage and freight can be easily wheeled through the terminal to the trackside platform. The roof has a generous overhang to shelter passengers from the weather. A trackside hay window became a common feature in the 1870s, giving agents better visibility along the tracks.
"There was only one additional feature, usually added to the larger urban terminals starting about 1880: a clock tower. The railroads introduced Standard Time in the United States, developing the four time zones in 1883. Railroad depots featured docks partly to advertise railroad reliability and efficiency, partly to remind Americans that commerce moved to the tick of railroad time."
Time has run out for many railroad depots and roundhouses, but their history-and photos of dozens of these buildings-is presented here. Their story is one of buildings, whether grand or simple, which helped facilitate a nation's mobility. From point-to-point, depot-to-depot, America spread and developed from via the rails.
The American Train Depot & Roundhouse covers the evolution of depots, examines their architectural style and how they were used, and suggests how they can be preserved and restored today. It also looks at roundhouses, the giant workshops where locomotives were serviced and repaired. Often out of view of the traveler, these shops were dark, dirty, and dangerous, but their crews were among the most spirited and loyal in railroading.
Wood or stone, grand or humble, railroad depots and roundhouses have served travelers well over the years. Their story is presented here along with 200 colorful illustrations that bring the past to life again.
About the Authors
Authors Hans and April Halberstadt are freelance writers, researchers, and photographers who live in San Jose, California. Hans has written several books, including The American Fire Engine, Combines & Harvesters, and
Giant Dump Trucks, and has contributed photography to numerous other books. April has supplied research materials to many book projects and is currently writing several books, including Farm Memories and Case Photographic History.
The Day the Railroad Came to Town
The railroad finally came to our hometown on a Saturday afternoon in January of the long ago year of 1864. It was one of thaw bright, well-scrubbed days that we get out here in San Jose, California, in the winter after a rain-when everything has the dean, clear smell of frailness, promise, and new beginnings. That day, over 130 years past, was obviously a day of new beginnings, and everybody in town knew it. They knew that their world was about to lx profoundly changed. When the rain stopped a little after sunrise, the clouds parted and that bright winter sun came out to make everything twinkle... well, everybody was sure it was a good omen. And so it was.
The railroad from San Francisco, fifty miles away up the peninsula, had been planned and promoted ever since 1850, and despite the tremendous costs and complications, the project was well funded and enthusiastically supported by both communities. Over a million dollars had been invested-more than enough to do the job. Even though the Civil War was in full swing, diverting men, materiel, and money, the line was surveyed, graded, and built in just a couple of years. Three locomotives were ordered from the East. They came around the Horn aboard sailing ships in pieces, a six-month journey. then were reassembled, tested, and prepared for service. Even before the line was complete, freight service began on the northern end of the tracks, at an immediate profit.
Even then San Francisco was a city with-our visible means of support-a raucous. bawdy place whose business was business in all its permutations: a city of financiers, brokers, real estate agents, speculators, procurers, and pimps of all inclinations. It was a decadent place, full of a gleeful humanity, each expecting three squares (or more) every day, a place where every victual, virtue, and vice had to be imported. And when it came to vittles, San Jose was the closest, cheapest source for barley, brandy, wheat, wine, fruit of many kinds, and vegetables just about all year round. San Jose was (and still is) happy to oblige their neighbor's whim-as long as it was for good gold coin.
Even then San Jose was a farm town, as it had been since the 1770s and would remain for 200 years. It was dedicated to wheat, cattle, fruit, vegetables, all in wholesale quantities. The two cities were made for each other-one set of consumers, another set of producers, fifty miles apart, remote and isolated from the rest of die civilized world.
The only practical form of communication between the two before that day in 1864 was an all-day steamboat ride on the bay or an all-day stage coach ride up the dirt road left over from the Spanish days, the muddy track called El Camino Real. You could ride a horse, and some did, or you could walk, but that took two days. Any of these alternatives was bumpy and exhausting, and the stage and the steam boat were expensive.
The railroad had been around back East for thirty years by then, even longer in England. Every man, woman, and child present in every nook and cranny of America knew about the power of steam. 'l hey knew that it had transformed much of the East, where most of them had been born and reared. They had read the wonderful accounts of rapid travel between distant cities, and low Fares for shipping commodities and otha goods. And they knew, through the newspapers received by ship-only six months late-that all across the East new tracks were being laid and new services were being developed. The train, in other words, was all the rage.
One of the things that motivated these people was their sense of isolation from the rest of America. San Francisco and San Jose were both up-to-date towns, rich in every way, but isolated from each other and from the Fast. People in both places had money, energy, a sense of purpose, and a vision of linking their cities with the ocher cities of the United States. They had enough money to buy the best of anything avail- able-including, the communities decided, a railroad.
There were two false starts on the project, but in 1862-with over a million dollars in a construction fund-it began. By 1864 the right of way was prepared, the rails laid, the engines bought, the can built, the schedules published, the contracts signed, and the deed was done, all in efficient, well-funded order.
Everybody knew the railroad would transform their world, although not everybody agreed just how. As usual, some forecast gloom and doom; others saw only success. Both, as it turned out, were right. On that glittering Saturday morning, the 16th of January 1864, everything was still speculation. But the citizens of San Jose and San Francisco were speculating that it was going to be wonderful!
A few weeks before the grand inauguration, the Board of Directors of the fledgling railroad was assembled and were loaded aboard a wood flat car behind one of the new locomotives-none of the passenger can were ready for service as yet. These notables in their finery were seated upon wooden benches nailed to the flatcar. Then, with a toot, off they all went.

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