Encyclopedia of North American Railroads

Encyclopedia of North American Railroads

Edited by William D. Middleton, George M. Smerk, and Roberta L. Diehl
Distribution: World
Publication date: 3/15/2007
Format: cloth 1296 pages, 543 b&w photos, 59 maps
8.5 x 11
ISBN: 978-0-253-34916-3
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Lavishly illustrated and a joy to read, this authoritative reference work on the North American continent’s railroads covers the U.S., Canadian, Mexican, Central American, and Cuban systems. The encyclopedia’s over-arching theme is the evolution of the railroad industry and the historical impact of its progress on the North American continent. This thoroughly researched work examines the various aspects of the industry’s development: technology, operations, cultural impact, the evolution of public policy regarding the industry, and the structural functioning of modern railroads. More than 500 alphabetical entries cover a myriad of subjects, including numerous entries profiling the principal companies, suppliers, manufacturers, and individuals influencing the history of the rails. Extensive appendices provide data regarding weight, fuel, statistical trends, and more, as well as a list of 130 vital railroad books. Railfans will treasure this indispensable work.

Author Bio

William D. Middleton is the author of more than 20 books and many hundreds of articles on rail transportation, engineering, and travel topics. He lives in Charlottsville, Virginia.

George M. Smerk taught transportation at Indiana University for more than 40 years. He has written extensively on urban transportation. The most recent of his five books is
The Federal Role in Urban Mass Transportation. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Roberta L. Diehl was a sponsoring editor at Indiana University Press until her retirement. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.


"Straightforward and rich with detail, each entry is written by a different expert and concludes with references. The editors have included period illustrations, photographs, and cartoons that underscore the concepts presented. Sure to interest both laypeople and scholars, this is highly recommended for public libraries and American history collections." —Library Journal

". . . For anyone whose life is touched by the railroads—from engineers, scholars, transport professionals, and enthusiasts to model railroaders and the general public—this work should become the basic research tool. . . . Essential. All collections; all levels." —Choice

"To distill all of North American railroading into 1,312 pages is a feat in itself; that Encyclopedia of North American Railroads does it so remarkably well is nothing short of phenomenal. This could be the most ambitious railroad book to appear in 100 years! And that's just what the editors wanted." —Trains

"This encyclopedia is a monumental work documenting railroad history and is a critical addition for any library collection of railroads, transportation, or North American history. The appendixes alone are worth the purchase price." —Kathleen Weessies, American Reference Books Annual

"This landmark book will immediately become essential reading for anyone with an interest in railroading. Whether you're a professional railroader or a dyed-in-the wool enthusiast you're sure to find the answer in this encyclopedia." —Kevin P. Keefe, publisher, Trains magazine

"The book, a rich resource for the casual rail enthusiast and the professional scholar of transportation, would be an excellent addition to a public library's reference collection, especially in communities with active model railway groups and/or railway historical societies." —Reference Reviews , March 2009

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Table of Contents

Overview Essays
Development of North American Railroads

Keith L. Bryant, Jr.
A Social History of American Railroads

H. Roger Grant
Technology and Operating Practice in the 19th Century

John H. White, Jr.
Technology and Operating Practice in the 20th Century

William D. Middleton
Rebuilding a New Rail System

Don Phillips
General Entries
Appendix A: A Statistical Abstract of the Railroads of North America
Appendix B: Maps
Appendix C: Glossary of Railroad Terms
Appendix D: 130 Most Notable Railroad Books