Rival Rails by Walter Borneman The race to build America's greatest Transcontine

Rival Rails by Walter Borneman The race to build America's greatest Transcontine

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Rival Rails by Walter Borneman The race to build America's greatest Transcontine
 
Rival Rails by Walter Borneman The race to build Americas greatest Transcontinental Railroad ADVANCE uncorrected proof Soft Cover 2010 388 pages
Among my earliest memories are those of being down at the railroad depot with my grandfather, watching the trains come in. It was the 195os, and I wish I had realized then what an era was passing before my eyes. I grew up dreaming of airplanes and space travel, but my fascination with railroads never left me. Ironically, fifty years later, there has been a great resurgence in America's dependence on rails. It will never be the same as the Santa Fe Super Chief, of course, or the California Zephyr that I rode west from Chicago with Grandpa and Grandma, but America's commerce still rides the rails-no more so than on the direct Los Angeles-to-Chicago super route across the American Southwest.
Much has been written about America's first transcontinental railroad, but driving the golden spike at Promontory Summit in 1869 signaled merely the beginning of the transcontinental railroad saga. The pre-Civil War notion that only one rail line would cross the continent vanished on the prairie winds. The rest of the country was suddenly up for grabs. Dozens of railroads, each with aggressive empire builders at their helms, raced one another for the ultimate prize of a southern transcontinental route that was generally free of snow, shorter in distance, and gentler in gradients.
The Denver and Rio Grande Railway's gentleman general, William Jackson Palmer, put his railroad's three-foot narrow gauge rails up against the big boys. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe's William Barstow Strong and Edward Payson Ripley made sure that the routes were staked and won, and then created a textbook example of efficiency upon them. Collis P. Huntington, having already won half the West for the Central Pacific, determined to control the other half for the Southern Pacific. Above them all floated the shadowy hand of Jay Gould, a man who bought and sold railroads as readily as some men traded horses.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of ordinary men waged a different type of war: the herculean task of constructing the bridges, tunnels, cuts, and fills of these empires and hurriedly flinging track across wild and wide-open country. Among their challenges were vast distances, high elevations, tortuous canyons, unruly rivers, and two towering walls of mountains. The better routes were often not to be shared-admitting no passage wider than the ruts of a wagon or the steel rails of a single track of railroad.
From wagon ruts to a railroad empire, this is the story of the battles to control the heavily contested transportation corridors of the American Southwest and to build America's greatest transcontinental route through them. When the dust finally settled, the southern route linking Los Angeles and Chicago had become the most significant of the nation's transcontinental railroads.

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