Category: Traction

Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway–Important book for California traction modelers

| Sep. 18, 09 | Comments (0)

One of the latest additions to Arcadia Publishing’s Images of Rail series is John Schmale and Kristina Schmale’s Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway.

The Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway is significant book for several reasons. First, it shines a spotlight on a traction line that hasn’t been “over-covered.” Even if you own lots of traction books, you probably haven’t heard much about the Petaluma and Santa Rosa. Read More

Signature Press’s “must have” Sacramento Northern book justifies the wait

| Mar. 22, 09 | Comments (0)

For several years now, I’ve been waiting for Signature Press to release their Sacramento Northern book, originally written by Harre W. Demoro. There’s quite a story behind the book, but–in short–the wait has been worthwhile. It’s a spectacularly good book. Read More

Mountain View Trolley Line documents Delaware Water Gap towns and trains

| Feb. 8, 09 | Comments (0)

Traction modelers interested in prototype ideas for turn-of-the-century structures, rolling stock, and street scenes will enjoy Mountain View Trolley Line, by William E. Rogers, Jr. The latest book in Arcadia Publishing’s Postcard History Series, Mountain View Trolley Line is filled with postcard photographs from a time when streets were empty and the hills weren’t filled with tasteless MacMansions.

The emptiness of the streets and the openness of the Delaware Water Gap landscape reinforce the importance of the Mountain View Trolley Line and its role in bringing vacationers to the great hotels of the area. When a vehicle is shown on a downtown street in Stroudsbourg, PA, or in a rural setting, it’s usually the only vehicle in the picture, and it’s typically dwarfed by the adjacent trolley.

The hotels, however, are huge and their grounds are immaculate. Roadside clutter and sprawl hadn’t been invented yet: the the farms appeared prosperous and well-kept.

Every Arcadia book has a photograph or 2 of exceptional interest. On page 92 of this volume, for example, there’s a great photo of a wye turnout in the middle of Lower Maine Street in Stroudsburg, a photo with a great deal of perspective that draws your eye into the tree-shaded streets. The lack of people and traffic, plus the deep perspective looking down the throat of the wye turnout that allowed cars to pass, is hauntingly beautiful.

Many of the 3 story buildings shown lining the streets would make excellent shallow, background, structures.

My favorite photo, however, is on page 72. It shows a huge, four bay, covered bridge across the Delaware River. The sides of the huge bridge are covered, top to bottom, with signs advertising Coca-Cola! I never realized that covered bridges were an early form of billboard! This is the type of photographic detail that is rarely shown, but would certainly add a lot of interest to model of a covered bridge.

Another great rescue of great photos by Arcadia Publishing, useful to modelers around the country who want to turn their modeling back to the pre-World War l era.

Mountain View Trolley Line, by William E. Rogers, Jr, $21.99, Arcadia Publishing. Available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia or (888) 313-2665.

Joe Bux and the Ontario and Western Railway Historical Society document the NY, O and Western

| Dec. 28, 08 | Comments (0)

front-cover-two-fiveThe latest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s Postcard History Series is The New York, Ontario and Western Railway, by Joe Bux with the Ontario and Western Railway Historical Society. A member of the Society since 1970, and its archivist, Joe has created a photographic look at the “Old and Weary,” as it was often nicknamed.

To me, the best part of the hundreds of postcards displayed in this new volume is its coverage of a wide variety of stations in New York State, as well as its views of the Weekhawken ferry terminal. The NY, O and W built a variety of wooden and brick stations ranging from open flagstop shelters to multi-story combination stations, towers, and railroad offices.
My favorite, however, is the Orrs Mills flag stop station, shown above, courtesy Arcadia Publishing.

Built at the edge of a 110-foot high, 1,800 foot long trestle, the plans for this open shelter, on page 48, are worth buying the book for. The plans include dimensions for the wood. In addition to the “eminently modelable” plans, there are postcard views showing the Orrs Mills station during both the trestle’s single-track and double-track days.

What makes the Orrs Mills station so memorable is the steepness of the embankment, and the way the station was built on timbered piers. A model of this station, built in the 1890’s, would make an excellent addition to any layout serving a rural area.

The New York, Ontario and Western Railway also shows numerous photographs of the line’s distinctive stations with second-floor living quarters for the operators. There are also not-seen-before views of stations built on piers in the Hudson River. These allowed vacationers from New York City arriving by steamboats could transfer to trains for the remainder of their journey.

Also of note: this new volume includes coverage of stations located on the West Shore River Branch of the New York, West Shore, and Buffalo Railroad, over which the NY, O and W enjoyed traffic rights to the New York City ferries at Weehawken. Many of these views have not been previously published.

The New York, Ontario and Western Railway, $21.99, Arcadia Publishing. Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at 888-313-2665 or

Attention Pennsylvania trolley fans: meet the author of “Southeastern Pennsylvania Trolleys” on Saturday, October 18

| Sep. 22, 08 | Comments (0)

Kenneth C. Springirth, the author of Arcadia Publishing’s new Southeastern Pennsylvania Trolleys pictoral history will be autographing copies of his book at the October Trolley Muster 2008 in Darby Pennsylvania, Saturday, October 18th. Read More

Arcadia’s “Brooklyn Streetcars” offers dozens of modeling ideas for streetcars and streets

| Sep. 22, 08 | Comments (0)

The latest edition to Arcadia Publishing’s highly acclaimed Images of Rail series series is Brooklyn Streetcars, edited by the Branford Electric Railway Association. Indeed, a portion of the revenues from Brooklyn Streetcars goes towards the preservation of Brooklyn Rapid Transit elevated car Number 197 at the Shore Line Trolley Museum in Branford, Connecticut. Read More

West Coast Interurbans: California builds anticipation for a future Oregon & Washington volume

| May. 28, 08 | Comments (0)

In Golden West Book’s West Coast Interurbans: California, Donald Duke has reached the half-way point in a first-class photographic survey documenting the diversity of interurban electric railroading. Whether judged from the point of view of the books organization, the razor-sharp quality of the photographs, or the point of view of selecting and arranging 579 photographs taken at exactly the right point in each road’s operations, West Coast Interurbans: California belongs in every traction lover’s library.

Organization, quality, and diversity are key words to describing West Coast Interurbans: California. The volume is logically organized, traveling from south to north, surveying 16 different lines, ranging from the Pacific Electric Railway to the Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railroad. Of major importance to historians, the table of contents subdivides chapters into sub-chapters, making it easy for readers to locate specific lines of the Pacific Electric, Key System, and Southern Pacific’s extensive interurban operations, This helps readers orient themselves and refer back to favorite photos.

The 579 black and white photographs are of sometimes startlingly sharpness. The 2-page title spread, for example, shows an incredibly beautiful station shot of a Northwestern Pacific train in rivet-counting detail–and you could probably count the leaves on the trees in the background. Donald Duke too many of the photographs himself, including a beautiful shot of a Pacific Electric freight motor passing a grade crossing and interlocking tower that would look great on the walls of any room of my house.

What I liked best about Golden West Book’s latest book–Donald Duke founded the firm in 1960–is the diversity encompassed by the term “interurban” and the consistent quality of the photographs. Whether it’s an establishing shot of the Pacific Electric’s multi-track Main Street Station in Los Angeles, or the sheer numbers of massive wooden interurbans in Northern California’s wine country, the photos are sharp and well-exposed.

There are also numerous surprises, such as a Petaluma & Santa Rosa “2-story” steeple cab freight motor that looks like about four feet had been spliced into a conventional steeple-cab to make it taller. Better yet, for scale, ther door is open and the engineer is standing in the doorway, helping to emphasize the home-built locomotive’s height. (Photo at the bottom of page 290.)

You’re probably aware of lines like the Pacific Electric and the Sacramento Northern. But, after spending time with West Coast Interurbans: California, , you’ll be equally familiar with other lines of equal charm and as much of a story to tell about their challenges, communities, and the struggles to keep alive against highway and steam railroad competition.

Hardbound, with over 300 large format pages and a superb painting of a 3-car Sacramento Northern train on the cover, provides a detailed perspective on the variety of interurban railroads in California, with detailed references for additional coverage.

If Volume Two, covering Oregon and Washington, is even half as good as this book, there’s good reason to reserve an advance copy today.

Another great online source of classic traction books

| May. 8, 08 | Comments (0)

Although I usually visit when I’m looking for out-of-print railroad books, I recently discovered which is impressively categorized.

For example, here’s a link to books about electric railroads.

The site is an excellent choice because you can browse by category, if you don’t know the specific titles you want. Just select Transportation Railroads, for example, and choose from 33 different categories of pre-owned railroad books.

Market Street Elevated Passener Railway: 1907-2007 Centennial

| May. 4, 08 | Comments (0)

At this weekend’s Boston Trolley Meet, I picked up John Spivak’s slim volume published in conjunction with the 1907-2007 Centennial of the Market Street Elevated Passenger Railway.

This full-color, horizontal format, color publication contains numerous vintage photographs, hand-tinted postcards, architectural drawings of elevated stations, and cut-away drawings of the subway portion. Numerous newspaper headlines are included, as well as a menu of food served the day before the line opened to those who walked the new line.

The publication captures the civic excitement and the scale of the project. Several of the drawings and detail photos will help readers better model aspects of the line, including the line’s 69th Street terminal.

Traction fans rejoice: Ronald DeGraw’s Pig & Whitle continues C.E.R.A.’s tradition of excellence

| Mar. 23, 08 | Comments (0)

There must be something in the water; two of my favorite publishers are there. One is the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society, which publishes the excellent First & Fastest quarterly. The First & Fastest is a graphically outstanding and manages a perfect balance of historic and contemporary text and photo coverage. Read More