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12" LP Recording "Steam Power Along The Chicago & North Western Railway" Features mainline whistles and steam echoes, also a long sequence of a giant Mikado on Ex-2466 in rail-slipping action & unusual power performance. Historic recording was made on mainline between Chicago and Minneapolis where a five-mile ascending grade amid 600-foot-high quartzite bluffs at Devils Lake, Wis., gives whistle signals pronounced resounding echoes. You marvel at the fast Pacifics once used on the famous Twin Cities "400. Jacket photos also have special appeal. copy $4.98; two for $8.00 postpaid.

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Dealers Welcome

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The same locomotive etchings as in Atlantic Coast Line. Jacksonville, Fla offices Gen-
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engine 36-A, yellow club car, and three of the air-conditioned bi-level cars. The train is No. 143 to Walworth, returning as No. 146 in the morning.

Bill Otter.

$32 Rosemary Terrace, Deerfield, Ill.

Thank you for the information on the "Walworth Job," Mr. Otter, and may I say, you live on a street with a lovely - Ed. I



The Interurban Era, by William D. Middleton. 1961, 84" x 11", 432 pages. $15. Kalmbach Publishing Co., 1027 N. Seventh St., Milwaukee 3, Wis.

I SUSPECT that the editor of TRAINS, who usually reviews books on his own, entrusted this volume to me because he was afraid he'd find himself in the position of heaping praise on a publication of his own firm. His fears were well founded; if he was an honest man and a sincere railfan (as we know him to be), he could only lay praise on Middleton's The Interurban Era as one pours maple syrup on a stack of pancakes.

The book is mainly concerned with presentation of 560 photographs of the interurbans, which amount to about all one could ask as a pictorial sample of interurban history. Many of the later ones are from the author's own camera, which he wields effectively, and from those of other men whose names have become familiar in credit lines in recent years. For his older pictures, Middleton has drawn on the marvelous collections of George Krambles, Steve Maguire, and other prominent juice fans, plus a wide variety of other sources, including some very obscure archives. I was much impressed by a credit line to the Historical Collections of the Security First National Bank of Los Angeles. About two-thirds of the photographs, I would estimate, are pre

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END TABLE 14 x 2914 HEIGHT 19


viously unpublished, and many of the rest have appeared only in old trade journals or in modern railfan bulletins that have not achieved wide circulation. The quality of reproduction is top-notch, on a level with recent Howell-North publications or with the previous Kalmbach effort Steam's Finest Hour. I'd put the blue ribbon on a breath-taking twopage spread of a 1917 wreck on the Ogden, Logan & Idaho on pages 368-369, and I'd give a special award for obscurity of subject matter to an interior shot of a Holland Palace car on page 58. The distribution of photographs between lines seems equitable. The lines that lasted longest are best represented. Thus, the Ohio and Michigan interurbans, which largely went out before there was widespread railfan photography, get somewhat less coverage than their mileage in the industry might have earned them, but the Pacific Electric and the Iowa lines are beautifully covered. I immediately checked on my own pets-the West Penn 700 series, Ohio Public Service car 21, and the Sacramento Northern's carferry Ramon- and found them all well represented. I am sure there is someone who just lives for the Cleveland, Painesville & Eastern, and who will be outraged at not finding it included, but I predict that nearly all readers will be satisfied with the coverage.


The advertised 55,000 words are about equally divided between captions and text. The captions are a mine of information on individual lines, and the text gives a good but necessarily brief history of the industry. There are no maps. Middleton combines an engineer's professional training with a good feel for history. I'd praise his writing on four grounds. First, he is accurate. Second, he doesn't waste time worrying about the precise limits of the term "interurban." Like certain other objects of importance, notably time, life, and electricity, interurbans are difficult to define rigorously. If we'd wait for somebody to develop a definition ironclad enough to separate all electric lines as interurbans and noninterurbans, we'd never be able to write about them. Third, Middleton makes no artificial efforts to create nostalgia. I presume we all have some degree of nostalgia for the interurbans, or we wouldn't read about them, write about them, and

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collect material on them; but the photographs and the straight story should be enough to kindle the pleasant feelings without delving into the chirp of the crickets in the weedy roadbed on the summer's evening, and the yellow glow of the headlight in the distance. Fourth, Middleton's over-all interpretation of interurban history is generally correct. Love interurbans though we may, we have to face the fact that they were an awful economic flop. Basically, the public just preferred to ride in automobiles, and there was nothing the interurbans could do about it. I have never been able to stomach interpretations that the decline of the industry was the work of unscrupulous bus salesmen. Middleton seems to be all square with reality on this point.

I feel obligated to find something to carp about in this volume, merely to keep up the cherished traditions of reviewing; but I can't find anything more offensive than that the Bonner Railwagon came out Banner, and that somebody mislabeled a Miller trolley shoe as an overrunning third-rail shoe in an otherwise useful glossary. I'd like to think that this is merely testimony that interurbans are a subject too sublime for mere mortals to deal with perfectly. —


The Virginian Railway, by H. Reid. 1961, 84" x 11", 208 pages. $10. Kalmbach Publishing Co., 1027 N. 7th St., Milwaukee 3, Wis.

IN the opening years of a century fraught with technological promise, American railroads were ready to move mountains-literally. But for overregulation and restrained competition they might have moved quite a few. Diesels and dome cars, radio and roller bearings serve as evidence that railroads have come many miles since 1900; yet immeasurable advantage was forfeited when business conditions barred construction of what John W. Barriger would later call "Super Railroads." Hints of the loss and monuments to the idea exist in a cutoff here, a low-grade line there and the railroad which Henry Huttleston Rogers built as Virginian Railway.

Owen Wister wrote The Virginian; H. Reid has written The Virginian Railway, a book of generous proportions with such - extras east as a pictorial section, roster, historical chronology, foldout map and profile, photographic end papers, and a dust-jacket painting by Richard Ward. Withal Reid's crisp style of writing, the measured work and worth of a Southside Virginia newspaperman and long-time Virginian fan, is the thing - even to a reviewer with an irresistible urge to rewrite. Reid has shunned the straight historical narrative to gather a collection of more than 130 historical vignettes, deftly montaged to form a word picture stretching from 1898 to 1959- Virginian's life span.

It was the last hour of the railroad barons. One of their number was about to outdo them all by building a 444-mile railroad with his own resources and doing it to 20th century standards. Henry

Huttleston Rogers had got his start in oil; creating Virginian to haul whole hills of West Virginia coal to tidewater the best way possible was a project of Rogers' later life and, sadly, he died only a few weeks before the line was finished.

Author Reid has taken up the subject of motive power with particular verve. The completed Virginian had the makings of a super railroad, with a favorable route and a high volume of coal traffic, but there were no super locomotives in 1909. At its beginnings as Deepwater Railway in West Virginia and, later, the corresponding Tidewater Railway in Virginia, the Virginian relied on 4-4-0's and 2-8-0's with wildcat whistles-not to forget "Fido," the Altoona-built exPennsylvania 0-6-0 which was Deepwater Railway's first engine. When Virginian received four 4-6-0's in 1907 they had to be loaned to Norfolk & Western until curvature troubles in the mountain country could be straightened out.

In 1909 came the first of 42 plain-faced class MB 2-8-2's. Reid has elevated them to a place in history, and they deserve it. Quiet-spoken George Halstead, who helped design them, was probably right when he called the MB "the best engine for its weight ever built." In 1909 the Mikado type was not yet generally accepted, although even greater motive power developments than the 2-8-2 were only a few years away. Most roundhouse talk was still of Mallets and Pacifics, and Virginian's MB's were the largest Mikes built up to that time. A mixture of old and new concepts, they were highly efficient drag engines of extraordinary power. Really big 24 x 32-inch cylinders (with distinctive "milk can" extensions on their spool valves), 56-inch drivers, and 200 pounds boiler pressure gave the 1302-ton MB a tractive effort of 56,000 pounds. The boiler, not a large one, nevertheless liberated plenty of steam while consuming plenty of water. Partly because of near-perfect design and partly because most later Mikados were built for higher speeds, the MB's power-toweight ratio (a factor more looked for abroad than it is here) has seldom been approached.

Later Virginian itself tried bigger Mikados, bought some Pacifics, toyed with a Triplex Mallet (which, suggests Reid, "ran better by calendar than pocket watch"), commissioned engines in four less radical Mallet wheel types, licked its Big Hill with three kinds of electrics, and at length- under a management of Chessie graduates - bought Berkshires and Allegheny articulateds of the C&O school and some secondhand C&O 0-8-0's. Through it all steamed those cottonpicking, cabbage-cutting MB's. When it finally came to diesels, the mountainclimbing, tonnage-hauling, MB-wise Virginian once more went for packaged power on a short frame and chose FM Train Masters. The achievements of such neighbors as C&O and N&W undoubtedly obscured Virginian's motive power accomplishments. Virginian designs just quietly moved coal, echoing Rogers' tongue-in-cheek remark that his Mallets "would not puff, snort and spit fire, but

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A 12" LP Recording 33-1/3 RPM

VOL. 3 VOL. 3S




collector's item for railway buffs. . . one of the most artistic to reach the editor's desk in many moons."

Blame our pride for the tall type; but credit the acclaim to Colorado's State Historian Agnes Wright Spring, reviewing "Where Steam Still Serves" in the State Historical Society's July issue of The Colorado Magazine.


The Picture Story of The

Great Western Railway

Illustrated & Written by James Lyon

Steam still serves these days on The Great Western Railway in Northern Colorado. . . and you can be there with this memorable documentary of the doughty little "Sweetheart Line" serving the sugar centers at the foot of the Rockies . . . a complete portrayal of present operations with views of the past in 78 photos on 48 big pages, plus maps, timetables and scale drawings a rare item for your collection for the very rare price of only . . .



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merely smile, pull, or push as may seem necessary to get them where they're going."

There is much more in The Virginian Railway about routine performance: how costs went down while profits went up; how a certain N&W president had good reason for preferring to hitch his business car to a Virginian overnight train; how the tidewater coal pier at Sewalls Point outdid itself at car dumping; how the road fell in love with 12-wheel, 120-ton "battleship" coal gons; how employees like B. Moore, Jean Gray, and Gernie Corning got themselves into and out of anecdotal scrapes. Virginian brushed with fame, too. There was Rogers' friend Mark Twain, who twice visited Norfolk during construction days. There was a company detective named Hatfield with an active remembrance of the HatfieldMcCoy feud. And a trip over Virginian had an unhappy ending for William F. Cody.

Such errors as could be detected in The Virginian Railway are minor and mostly typographical - which may even explain why the ruling eastbound Clarks Gap grade is described (on page 40) as having a fearsome rise of 10%1⁄2 feet per mile. It becomes apparent as one reads on that the ascent is about 10 times that. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Virginian is that it was built. Even though Rogers' name was not openly associated with the enterprise in its early stages, one suspects that C&O (which had once actually operated the


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original 3.8-mile Deepwater Railway) and N&W knew what was going on and allowed it to happen. Perhaps N&W had a covetous eye on Virginian even then. If so, it had to wait 57 years. An operating merger under U.S.R.A. during World War I only whetted Roanoke's appetite, and in 1925 the larger carrier tried to lease Virginian. But until December 1, 1959, Rogers' railroad had a history of its own, and it was a great one.

H. Reid has proved that he knows all about it. WILLIAM S. YOUNG.

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WHAT, precisely, is the purpose of a record review? To give a frank, critical opinion which will describe a record for the benefit of those who cannot always listen before they buy. Preferably the review should be unbiased.

In theory all records can be compared on some points-accuracy of presentation and technical fidelity. This is a rather simple matter with music. Published scores and previous recordings of the same work furnish a basis for compariProfessional recording equipment and quality control usually assure a high standard of technical fidelity from the large companies.


Not so with railroad sound effects. They are not rehearsed and rerecorded to perfection. There is certainly no score or script. Many of them are recorded by amateurs with less than full-fidelity equipment and the resulting sound quality varies from "excellent" to "horrifying!" And who can dispute, unless he was actually there, that Rio Grande Southern 20 sounded thus echoing across the big trestle at Ophir?

This reviewer is constantly faced with the problem of comparing professionally recorded railroad sounds with nonprofessional recordings offered to the public at the same price. In each case the question arises whether technical quality of reproduction or the documentation of never-to-be repeated sounds is the more important value. Is A a poor recording because the chime whistle of a passing Northern is so distorted that it threatens damage to the speakers? Or is B a fine record because (even though the microphone is positioned next to an operating sawmill) the sound of the Wreck of Old 97 can be heard dimly in the background?

Bear with us, then, as this column attempts to chart a middle course between the camps of those who want high fidelity at all costs and those who accept surface hissing and cramped frequencies in order to hear the actual voice of Caruso singing into a horn back in Camden, N. J. I freely admit that I tend toward


the former, for there are few examples of virtuosity among the latter rail discs.

For you lovers of railroad ballads (a field in folklore which probably deserves as much attention as the sea chantey) comes the news that TRAINS Magazine is the inspiration for a modern-day railroad song. Phil Ryan of 323 North 20th Street, Kansas City, Kans., a Rock Island conductor's son and an avowed diesel-deplorer, has composed and recorded "There's a Diesel Engine on the Cannon Ball." The ballad was prompted by a news item in the November 1951 TRAINS noting that Wabash diesel 1009 had taken over the famous train from the blue Hudsons. You'll enjoy the record if your tastes run thataway. Write Phil to find out where you can get a copy of his lament for the old Cannon Bawl.


[Unless otherwise noted, all recordings reviewed are 12", 33% rpm discs. [M] indicates monophonic, [S] indicates stereophonic.]

Rio Grande to Silverton ([M] LP1136, $4.95; [S] SD1136, $5.95. North Jersey Recordings, Box 2, Maplewood, N. J.) is a wellrecorded 3-foot-gauge program that shows careful attention to editing. The stereo edition is recommended. A Silverton trip behind double-headed Sport Models was taped with a microphone on each side of the baggage car. The wonderful stereo result lets you "see" the engines first from the left, then from the right as they follow the twisted tracks through Animas Canyon. You can sense the cars leaning as flanges protest sharp

curves on either side, and you almost want to duck back into the car when the exhausts reflect off rocks and foliage close to the track. Two others of the 10 bands bear special mention. One is a mood-setter, with distant thunder rumbling in the mountains as a lonely freight arrives to tie up in Chama. The other is an eastbound freight passing Coxo siding with a pusher, circling the valley almost out of earshot, then finally rounding Windy Point high above - all one unbroken sequence. Notes and jacket illustrations are profuse; the record slip cover is a large reproduction of a 1907 D&RG system map.

Steam in the Snow ([M] XTV66927, $4.95 in U. S.; $5.95 in Canada. Allan Sherry Recordings, 5445 Netherland Ave., Riverdale, N. Y.) is the latest in Sherry's fine series. The setting is Montreal during the last of Canadian Pacific's steampowered operation late in February 1960. The weather is bitter, the exhausts are sharp. The record succeeds, through 18 scenes, in documenting the busy hours when Mikes and Royal Hudsons alike were called as needed to work out their final days in a common pool. Over and above the straight passing-train sequences, there is added interest. Several of the episodes were taken inside the tower at Montreal West, with all the associated sounds of interlocking levers being moved. A "complete picture" tapes the drama of winter railroading at St. Martin Junction as trees and wires moan with a harsh wind. A distant whistle is heard, the station door squeaks open, and the agent's footsteps crunch coldly across

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Seven delightful chapters about seven departed short-lines in this new dollar booklet by William S. Young, editor of "Steam Locomotive & Railroad Tradition' and short-lines columnist in TRAINS. Missouri's Cassville & Exeter had a president who ran his own engine. "Col. Fred,' a war-surplus gas dinky, was the latter-day motive power on Georgia's Lakeland Railway. Henry Villard, Northern l'acific, Great Northern and the Milwaukee all figured in the history of Washington's Pacific Coast Railroad. Suddenly left on its own by Boston & Maine, New Hampshire's beloved Suncook Valley bought a brand-new Mogul and ran as an independent for three decades. Waco, Beaumont, Trinity & Sabine once hoped to link all those Texas towns. Pennsylvania's New Haven & Dunbar outlasted the native iron industry it was built to serve. Flemingsburg & Northern, originally a narrow gauge, served the home town of Kentuckian James J. Andrews. They all live again in the pages of SEVEN SHORT-LINES. Illustrated; revised and updated from articles originally written by Mr. Young for "Short-Line Railroaders" magazine. A distinctive dollar booklet by Starrucca Valley Publications, Box 231, Susquehanna, Pa.

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the ice-covered platform as he prepares to hand up orders. Royal Hudson 2841 slows a string of piggyback flats past as orders are accepted, then the train moves out into the night trailing a flat-wheeled caboose. The agent returns to his warm office and a last, faint whistle marks the 4-6-4 up the line. Jacket notes add running commentary and seven of the locomotives heard are illustrated.

Soo Line Telegraph (10" [M] 17, $4.50. Railroad Record Club, Hawkins, Wis.) positively overflows with nostalgia. The Soo Line station at Hawkins, Wis., is of the old order. From the intermittent chatter of the telegraph sounders and the measured ticking of the big railroad clock to the scrape of spindle-legged chairs on the wood floor, this is old-time railroading. And it is a fine background record for any railfan gathering. The second side puts you on the last Soo steam run. A tight wye proves to be the undoing of a hogger who stops to let the brakeman line the switch. Much slipping results. Part of this trip is recorded from the cab. There is considerable distortion at speed.

Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee (10" [M] 18, $4.50. Railroad Record Club, Hawkins, Wis.) takes a ride in the motorman's cab of a single-car train on the Mundelein branch. Without any effort you can imagine this to be any country interurban many stops, numerous road crossings, lightly ballasted track. You hear the clicking of the controller, hissing of the brakes, the motors, the whistle, the conductor's signal bell, the motorman lowering his window to look back along the car. At one point there is a spirited whistle-bell conversation after the bounding trolley pole momentarily leaves the wire. It is well recorded. The second side includes a series of 11 station and lineside tapings of cars stopping or passing at speed. Jacket notes are brief (e.g., "716 at Rondout").

Pacific Electric (10" [M] 14, $4.50. Railroad Record Club, Hawkins, Wis.) is an afternoon of watching the red cars at Los Angeles' Slauson Avenue, on the fourtrack main. A street crossing and a grade crossing with the Santa Fe made this a busy spot on PE, but on this record the activity becomes monotonous. PE's air whistles all tended to sound the same, and only the brief jacket notes lend a clue as to whether you're listening to a work


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car or a Long Beach Limited. The second side paces several trains with an automobile, affording good close-ups of motor and gear noises at speed. Generally there is too much distortion in the recording, especially as the cars slam across the AT&SF tracks.

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (10" [M] 15, $4.50. Railroad Record Club, Hawkins, Wis.) includes six sound sequences of Burlington steamers, three of which are excerpts from a fan trip behind good old 5632. Also running: 2-8-2 No. 5144 making up a train on creaking rails at Herrin in a nice close-up; Mike 4966 switching at Christopher; and 4983 at Breese, all in Illinois. There's some nice whistling on this record. Jacket notes are minimal.

DM&IR (10" [M] 19, $4.50. Railroad Record Club, Hawkins, Wis.) is technically below standard for this club's releases. True, the big steamboat whistles of DM&IR's 2-8-8-4 articulateds are unmistakable, but that's about all. The recording, made from a caboose coupled between one of these locomotives and 180 ore cars, is marred at the beginning by the constant throbbing of a gasolinedriven generator, furnishing power for either the recorder or the caboose lights. Then, when the train picks up speed, a great deal of wind noise blocks out the heavy exhausts. Side 1 is abruptly cut off and just as abruptly picked up on the second side. Some lineside recordings of the big engines in action are included. There are no notes on the jacket. I




Other-side-of-the-coin department:

A good many folk (including me) frequently find themselves looking back to the railroading of 20 to 30 years ago to when diesels were novelties and the Guide bulged with passenger train-miles. And those years were esthetic and exciting for train-watchers. Nevertheless. nostalgia should not be allowed to obscure the inventiveness we've experienced in the interim. How about 1940, since that's a year of gentle recall for many. In 1940 there was virtually no piggyback and not a single trilevel auto carrier on rails. You couldn't reserve a roomette on the Crescent, George Washington, or Sunset. Or ride in a dome. No machine automatically detected hotboxes or retarded humped cars or welded rail. The 6000 h.p. articulateds being assembled at Alco and Baldwin couldn't be sliced into independent 1500 h.p units or multipled with each other. Roller bearings were so rare as to be synonymous with streamlining and antonymous of freight equipment. In 1940 the conductor didn't pick up a phone to talk to the engineer, most dispatchers didn't

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