Another book released by Motorbooks International Publishers (better known today as MBI Publishing), The American Train Depot And Roundhouse is written by Hans and April Halberstadt dating back to its first printing in 1995. As with most MBI books this title works just as well as a coffee table piece as it does covering the history of the classic American railroad station. Despite the fact that the book can only provide a general history of train depots its colorful photos and detailed information make it an interesting read for anyone interested in or curious about the subject. Overall, the book is nearly 200 pages in length with eight chapters highlighting the history of stations. It begins by discussing the earliest history of the buildings, how a culture developed around them, and the various types of designs in which they were constructed. Other topics covered in the book include union stations, related buildings (such as the roundhouse), and finally what efforts are ongoing to save remaining structures.
Even though The American Train Depot And Roundhouse is a book published by Motorbooks International its authors are not traditional railfans/historians (at least not who are well known). However, the pictures are large, vivid, and excellent a trademark that MBI's railroad titles are well known for. Incidentally, these photographs also are not from names you would likely recognize with many either the property of the Library of Congress or Robert Genat. The book opens with an acknowledgments section giving thanks to those who have helped bring it to life through their knowledge on the subject. In the preface the authors speak of the role the depot played in communities, particularly small towns where they were the lifeblood of the entire area and especially in the early days the only connection to the rest of the world.
Finally, the opening section of the book in the introduction looks at how the depot and railroad changed entire towns when they finally reached a particular community. For an intro it is quite lengthy covering more than fifteen pages. In chapter one, entitled "Life At The Depot," the authors discuss the intricacies of what a depot was, how it functioned, and its day-to-day operations. For instance, the book differentiates between what railroads actually considered a "station" (a physical location on a timetable that involved stopping for a particular purpose) and a "depot" (a building used for freight and passenger operations). Other topics highlighted include the job of the telegrapher, the daily mingling of local folks around the depot, and even a look at interlocking towers and roundhouses.