Railroads and the American People

Railroads and the American People

H. Roger Grant
Distribution: World
Publication date: 9/26/2012
ISBN: 978-0-253-00637-0
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Gold Medal, Automotive / Aviation / Railroad category, 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards
In this social history of the impact of railroads on American life, H. Roger Grant concentrates on the railroad’s “golden age,” 1830-1930. To capture the essence of the nation’s railroad experience, Grant explores four fundamental topics—trains and travel, train stations, railroads and community life, and the legacy of railroading in America—illustrating each topic with carefully chosen period illustrations. Grant recalls the lasting memories left by train travel, both of luxurious Pullman cars and the grit and grind of coal-powered locals. He discusses the important role railroads played for towns and cities across America, not only for the access they provided to distant places and distant markets but also for the depots that were a focus of community life. Finally, Grant reviews the lasting heritage of the railroads as it has been preserved in word, stone, paint, and memory. Railroads and the American People is a sparkling paean to American railroading by one of its finest historians.

Author Bio

H. Roger Grant is Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History at Clemson University. He is author of 25 books, including Visionary Railroader (IUP, 2008) and (with Don L. Hofsommer) Iowa’s Railroads (IUP, 2009).


"With plenty of detail, Grant brings a bygone era back to life, addressing everything from social and commercial appeal, racial and gender issues, safety concerns, and leaps in technology. But Grant never loses sight of the big picture and the essential role the railroads played in American life. He writes with authority and clarity in a work that can appeal to both casual and hardcore enthusiasts." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"With its wealth of vignettes and more than 100 black-and-white illustrations, Railroads and the American People does a fine job of humanizing the iron horse." —Wall Street Journal

"Consisting of hundreds of vignettes containing a wealth of detailed descriptions and remembrances, Grant’s work is highly recommended to train buffs and others in love with early railroading." —LIBRARY JOURNAL

"Is it necessary to comment on an established author such as Roger Grant. Heavens, he is a fine scholar and writes better than Hemingway!" —John White, author of The American Railroad Passenger Car

"Railroad historian Grant . . . has written an engaging book of train stories, detailing their social influence from 1830 to 1930. . . . Highly recommended.

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"Read this book slowly, allowing the wealth of detail—which is the book’s great strength—time to sink in. You will find yourself thinking about certain details after hours, each reader resonating with some different aspect of the map Grant creates. Re-reading, some other aspect will surface. . . . Grant’s book leaves you wishing for more." —Indiana Magazine of History

"Grant very successfully identifies the countless ways that railroads have touched the lives of ordinary Americans and rail enthusiast communities such as ours as well." —Michigan Railfan

"Bronze Medal, 2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year

2013 AAUP Public and Secondary School Library Selection, Outstanding rating

Gold Medal, Automotive / Aviation / Railroad category, 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards" —

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