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.
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".