Railroads Across America, By Mike Del Vecchio
If you are interested in purchasing a railroad book tailor suited as a coffee table piece, Railroads Across America
authored by Mike Del Vecchio another well known rail historian and
published by MBI Publishing/Quadrillion Publishing Limited back in 1998
(the former company has released numerous railroad-related books over
the years). The book is a
massive hardcover that is more than 12 inches in length and quite heavy.
As the name implies the title is meant to generally highlight
America's railroad history since its inception in the early 20th
century. While the book is filled with text and information this is primarily conveyed through wonderfully large, and vivid photographs, paintings, drawings, and such. Mike breaks down the book
into three different parts with fourteen different chapters overall.
Essentially, these chapters discuss the particularly geographical areas
of the country with the first and last sections discussing the
industry's beginnings and where it is headed today.
|Elgin, Joliet & Eastern SD38-2 #660 slows at the diamond in Rondout, Illinois, where it crossed the Milwaukee Road, so the engineer can grab train orders from the agent on June 24, 1977.|
The first section of Railroads Across America is comprised of two
chapters entitled "The Early Days" and "An Industry Is Born". As you
can probably guess these two quick chapters (totaling less than twenty
pages) covers the earliest days of the industry describing early
engineering practices, locomotives, and companies. Included here are
two of the pioneering companies in the field, the Baltimore & Ohio
and Delaware & Hudson Canal Company (later the Delaware & Hudson
Railway). Other topics Mr. Del Vecchio touches on include the
development of standard gauge, automatic air brakes, the creation of
standard time, and the building of the transcontinental railroad.
While there are some excellent early photographs featured here most of the images depicted are of early paintings, drawing, and pamphlets.
Railroads Across America delve heavily into the
historical side of the industry, mostly sticking with a very general
overview and predominantly focusing on the images and photos featured.
In part two it begins with the chapter entitled "The Golden Age &
Beyond", which looks at the industry from the 1880s through just after
World War I and the 1920s. Over the next seven chapters of this section Mr. Del Vecchio offers readers a fascinating gallery of photographs
that are large enough to frame if one could so focusing on the
different areas of North America. It begins with, "From The Sea To The Great Lakes"
and moves on to "New England", "The Southeast", "The Midwest",
"Everywhere West & Texas", and "California & The Pacific Coast".
|Illinois Central Gulf GP35 #2522 sits just off the turntable at the yard in Forest View, Illinois on August 25, 1977. In the background can be seen tired and worn Gulf, Mobile & Ohio F3A #883-A.|
Mike does not stop there, however, and also includes a chapter featuring Canadian railroads both during early years
of operations as well present day services (which offers images of all
of the country's major companies such as CP Rail, Canadian National, and
so forth). Obviously, part two of the Railroads Across America comprises the bulk of the book as it makes up nearly 160 of the total 220 pages. Once again, if you love photographs
(and, really, who doesn't?) you will very much enjoy Mike's book.
Essentially all of the most well known classic railroads are featured at
least once with images depicting large steam locomotives, famous
streamliners like the Super Chief, and even rare photos of the Milwaukee Road's electrified operations out west.
The book concludes with the final
section, part 3, which is also the shortest. In a few short chapters,
entitled "The Present & The Future" and "Today & Tomorrow", Mike
Del Vecchio discusses the impact railroads have had on society, their
current role, and what they will look like in the future.
Interestingly, at the time of the book's writing Conrail was still a
major Class I system that soon after disappeared into CSX Transportation
and Norfolk Southern. In any event, perhaps the final chapter is the
most interesting, at least if you are a railfan; entitled, "Railfans,
Railroads & Preservation" this seven page section talks about the
role of historians and those that enjoy railroads in keeping alive its
long and storied history through the restoration of dated equipment and
Throughout this article I have spoken of the excellent photography featured in Railroads Across America.
If you are not interested in a picture book then you may not want to
buy Mr. Del Vecchio's publication. Most of the writing in the book occurs within the first few sections and the opening of each new chapter. Everything in between is almost entirely photographs, with accompanying captions describing location, railroad, and the year. It should be noted that the book is not only of Mike's photo collection
but other well known historians in the field such as Jim Shaughnessy
and the late Jim Boyd, as well as numerous historical society
|Conrail GP9 #7508 appears to have recently received a fresh coat of blue as it runs light through the yard in Chicago with GP7 #5959 on March 7, 1978.|
myself, Mr. Del Vecchio's book has not been a great usefulness to me in
regards to writing the website, mostly because there simply is not a
lot of detailed information included within it for research purposes.
However, if you especially have small children
or loved ones who have an interest in trains they are sure to get a
thrill of looking at all of the large, colorful, and detailed photographs featured throughout the book
(my own nieces and nephews have certainly enjoyed looking through its
pages!). In any event, if you're interested in perhaps purchasing Railroads Across America please visit the links below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.