THE railroad story has been told often and well, but always with a plan. Books have given the history of the railroads, carefully arranged chronologically, and books have explained the science of railroad operation in logical sequence and categorical detail. But the great American railroad scene of the present is too vast to be fitted into any catalog, too varied to be set down into duly documented compartments. It is indeed a panorama, from which I have taken certain (to me) interesting views and set them down on paper, chapter by chapter, not as a text nor to tell a connected story of the railroad business but simply to give my impressions of an interesting and vital portion of the American picture.
If you enjoy reading this book it will have served its purpose. It will not give you a history of American railroads, and if you find the chapter "Spike of Gold" only an inadequate introduction to the construction of our railroad network, I can only suggest that you read one of the many books which completely and interestingly cover the history of the railroads. To me the driving of the golden spike and the early days of the Pacific railroad are a representative chapter from railroad history and a scene in my own railroad panorama. If your own favorite trains are not among those I have described, it is because I have not tried to tell of every great train in this broad land of ours. You will find my selections nonetheless interesting and representative. If you wonder at the inclusion of a chapter describing in detail the property and affairs of an interurban line, it is merely because, to me, the railroad picture is not complete without the electric railroad and hence the Illinois Terminal, as a typical example, falls into my panorama.
This is not a reference work, not a textbook by any stretch of the imagination. It is .a book for the man who, like myself, just simply likes trains, enjoys looking at locomotives and riding the iron trail to wherever it may take him. It is intended to present to this man in word pictures some of the more generally interesting and representative aspects of the American railroad scene. The 99 per cent of American railroading which cannot even be lightly touched within any limit of pages offers ample opportunity for the reader to continue beyond Chapter Last in the intriguing search for scenes of his own railroad panorama.
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