Best (or worst) quote or statement found in a railroad book

North American Narrow Gauge; West of the Rockies (including Canada; Mexico).
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Randy Hees
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Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:07 pm

Best (or worst) quote or statement found in a railroad book

Post by Randy Hees » Fri Aug 22, 2014 10:10 am

I was looking at Railway in the Sky, the 2011 book on the Bodie & Benton (or what ever name you choose to use for the railroad that served Bodie) and found the following paragraph... in italics no less... even the quotes at the end are theirs...

Accurate verified information about the Bodie Railway is difficult to obtain. While there are many books available, each author has his/her own opinion so information is incomplete. We have attempted to be as accurate as possible "under the circumstance."

If I had found this in the introduction, it would be fine... but instead its dropped into the text on page 31... just before they describe the locomotives (not exactly a roster... writing as a narrative...)

Strangely, (considering the disclaimer) information on the locomotives in Railway in the Sky is pretty accurate... There are previously published rosters by George Turner in Narrow Gauge Nostalgia, and by Myrick in Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California which have "issues"... Turner turns the 4 locomotives into 6, Myrick lists 5 and rearranges the numbers. This is not an attack on Turner or Myrick... they were writing and publishing it a time when much of what we have available was not... Both get confused by the conversion of the Union Iron built 0-6-0 locomotives to 2-6-0s...

I am finding Railway in the Sky to be a wonderfully researched but badly written book... a strange combination... the authors Wanda & Richard Canton actually don't claim authorship... instead they say "compiled & edited by..." They have compiled wonderful information and great photos... They quote local newspaper reports frequently, including citations...
The first chapter, "Bodie and the Need for Wood" while not about the railroad, gives the needed context to understand the railroad, something missing from too many books.

Sadly the authors have little railroad knowledge. This shows too often, my favorite being a the caption of a photo on page 54... the subject being the post scrapping remains of their rail auto, an Oldsmobile Speedster with the headlight of one of the locomotives sitting where the engine should be... "The Headlight from the Inyo is about to Leave Mono Mills on the Speedster "... by the way, they missunderstood that the "Speedster" was a term for on rail auto based on its origin... and apply "speedster" to the other earlier speeder as well...

I have one other significant issue with the book... they use Herman Darr's B&B flat car drawing (BB-100), twice without attribution. The first time apposite the table of contents, where they state " A copy of the original plans for a Bodie Railway Flat Car use by Friends of the Bodie Railway & Lumber Company, Inc in the restoration of flat car #8" The second time on p.99 where it is "Blueprints of a flat car from the Virginia & Truckee Railroad"

Even with the issues, I would recommend it for the photos and information it contains...

Randy Hees

Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City
Railway Preservation News
Chasing old trains where ever I may find them...

Jeff Livingston
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:08 am

Re: Best (or worst) quote or statement found in a railroad

Post by Jeff Livingston » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:51 pm

Reminds me of a statement made by a Navy O-6 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

"On average, we're above average"

35 years later I'm still stunned!

Jeff Livingston

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