As I’ve been researching the period and railroad of my current layout, the next layout, and 1940’s US railroading in general, I’ve seen the need to expand the reference library. So I spent the modeling budget for the next three months on a spate of books:
The recently-weighted boxcars are awaiting Weathering.
Clockwise from the top:
Locomotive Cyclopedia of American Practice 1941
Reprinted by Kalmback 1975. Most modelers who’ve been in the hobby a while have heard of the Locomotive and Car Cyclopedias. And most folks consider them essential for serious rolling stock scratch building. Those with an interest/education/experience in things mechanical spend hours between the covers. It is a nice book.
And comes with a price to match. I’d seen this copy at The Whistle Stop train shop for the last 18 months, and like everyone else, I’d re-shelved it when I saw the price. I’m contemplating a locomotive scratch-build, and knew I was going to want this book. The shop price was actually about $50 less than comparable copies online, Oh, well, it’s only money. There was an unexpected bonus. General Motors spent some money promoting their EMD FT locomotive:
Two more illustrations on the reverse.
Eat ramen for a month, but if you have an interest in prototype railroading, get the Cyclopedia for your era.
The Mill on the Boot
Murray Morgan University of Washington Press 1982
I bought this book because I’m half-way looking at logging railroads around the Tacoma area in the 1940’s. The book gives the history of the St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber Company, a concern that processed timber in Tacoma from 1888 to 1957. The company ran a fair-sized standard-gauge logging road interchanging with the Northern Pacific. I was hoping the book would have some information on the railroad, but doesn’t have enough to be useful.
The Official Guide of the Railways May 1951
National Railway Publication Company May 1951
A monthly publication that substituted for the Internet in the transportation and logistics industries of the day. This copy is an original, but there are reprints from various years available. Books from the 20’s, 60’s, and 70’s are reasonably available, but supply falls off asymptotically as the 30’s and 40’s are approached.
It was an industry publication, so companies chose the amount of space they were willing to pay for. Smaller outfits often have a half-page or quarter-page ad with basic information, but most of the Class 1’s have pages of company information, route maps, freight and passenger timetables, fare information, and often the passenger consists and power for most or all of the scheduled trains. This was a working publication for people who needed to get passengers and cargo from here to there. It is just an amazing amount of information that runs about $40 – $50 a copy. If you can find one near your modeling era, buy it.
American Locomotives 1900 – 1950
Edwin P. Alexander Bonanza Books 1950
The book documents scores of steam locomotives introduced to American rails between 1900 and 1950. Each year features an important or distinctive steam locomotive introduced that year, and many years have several examples. Each entry has a photo, usually a builder’s, an elevation dimensional line drawing or shop drawing, and a brief description.
This was a bit of a flyer, as I hadn’t heard of or seen this book, but the available images looked interesting. It’s a little strange to read of steam locomotives in the present tense, and the author noted in 1950 that “. . . steam will be with us for many years to come.” As we know, in five years American steam would be essentially gone, and have almost completely disappeared in ten.
The book will be a good secondary reference, and I discovered the Pennsylvania RR Class S2 and the Chesapeake & Ohio Class M1. For fans/modelers of the steam and transition eras, the book is probably worth the $20 – $30 price for a good copy. In fact, the book is much cheaper now than it was new. The dust jacket has the original $6.95 price, or about $75 today.
AAR Loading of Commodities on Open Top Cars 1946
I bought this book because it was relatively inexpensive, and it’s an original document relevant to my modeled era. I do not think I’ll find more comprehensive information on loading open top cars in the late 1940’s than this.
It’s notable that the seller enclosed a hand-written message in a card. In a separate envelope. It’s not uncommon for sellers to enclose messages, but this was unusual.
Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History
Donald B. Robertson Caxton Printers 1995
Donald Robertson apparently made it his life’s work after retirement to document every railroad in the Western US that had ever existed with 10 or more miles of track. The other two volumes are The Desert States and the Mountain States. This book was obtained as a reference for logging railroads around Tacoma. The work is a little different in that it documents Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) as well as non-ICC registered railroads. If a railroad wasn’t chartered as common-carrier, it wasn’t required to register with the ICC. This is a large reason why it’s often difficult to find information on company and logging railroads. If folks don’t have to keep records, they usually won’t.
A typical entry includes company information, map (if known), locomotive roster, and sometimes a timetable summary. Rail weight and maximum grade are listed if known. Mr. Robertson did have the habit of listing locomotives by Whyte classification, including electrics and Diesels. This is a bit annoying as electrics and diesel-electrics are commonly referred to by model number, so one has to cross-reference the wheel arrangement with the builder in the roster to guess what locomotive it may be. Overall, if one models US Western railroading, this is a useful reference.
Let’s Run Some Trains!
Enough reading about railroading.
A rake of log flats from the Peninsula waits on the pier.
Moving cars around. The track work on this side of the layout with the longer log flats and steam locomotive requires extra moves. There are five cars to retrieve today, so the train has to be made up on the fuel dealer track, then moved to the main. The boxcars on the team track are mtys set out for the next crew to pick up.
That’s a long train for the NPP, and really more than the layout can handle. But the logging season is in full swing, and it’s good to have a challenge every now and then.