Railroad Noir

Railroad Noir

The American West at the End of the Twentieth Century
Niemann, Linda G.
Distribution: World
Publication date: 05/11/2010
Format: Hardback 23 color illus., 17 b&w illus., 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-35446-4
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Culled from the 20 years she spent traveling the American West as a freight brakeman and conductor, Linda Grant Niemann's Railroad Noir delves into the darker side of railroading. The 1990s were a time of crisis for workers caught in the breakup of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Niemann's tales of exhaustion, alcoholism, homelessness, and corporate blundering present a revelatory account of railroading life. Photographer Joel Jensen realizes Niemann’s vision of the working West with images of cowboy bars, blue motels, and railroaders working in electrical storms, white-outs, and desert heat waves. The result is an honest, gritty, and striking collaboration.

Author Bio

Linda Grant Niemann teaches creative nonfiction at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. She is author of Boomer: Railroad Memoirs and Railroad Voices.

Joel Jensen is a freelance photographer whose work has been featured in various publications.


I've read many books on railroading and none of them have moved me in the way this book has. The photography is stunning, along the lines of Delano's work of the ’30s and ’40s.Niemann's . . . writing style is excellent and it leads the reader to want to read on. . . . She has clearly conveyed her experiences as a railroad worker.

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Table of Contents

Boomer in a Boom Town
Breaking in Blues
Blues for Ron
Beet Inspector
The Blue Motel
The Big Four Bar
Learning Spanish
Organized Booming
The Border
On the Road Again
A Starry Night
Train to the Underworld
Back to Work
The Hospital Yard
The Hopper at Granite Rock
The Lawrence Switcher
The Lord of the Night
Midnight Train to Georgia
The Spiritual Beauty of the Rails
Old Head, New Hire

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