Railroad History - another candidate
During this recent thread, I mulled over the many books I've read over the
years, and I have another candidate as the best railroad book I've read:
_Set Up Running: The Life of a Pennsylvania Railroad Engineman, 1904-1949_
by John W. Orr.
John W. Orr wasn't the engineman in question; he was the son of the
engineman, O. P. Orr. It is clear that John and his father had an
extraordinarily close relationship. I suspect also that John had O.P.'s
notebooks, because the detail in the story he relates is extraordinary.
This is one of the few railroad history books I stayed up to 2:00 AM
reading. I could not put this book down. And I read it twice, nearly in
succession, and scanned it several times since.
Better words have been written about this book than I can write, and I will
refer you to this webpage to read them:
O.P. ran Pennsy trains for 45 years, most of them on the section of the PRR
branch to Sodus Point from Williamsport PA to Elmira NY. He did run other
trains on other parts of the PRR, most notably from Williamsport to Enola.
I happened to come across this book right after it was published, and gave
it to my good friend John Burroughs. John's a Pennsy fan, so it was a great
gift and fit his interests to perfection. As many of you know, John
travelled a great deal by car as Reboxx's principal sales rep at train
shows. After reading this book, he drove the route from Williamsport to
Elmira, several times, and I rode shotgun on one of those trips. After
reading the book, you can virtually see PRR I-10s pounding up the grades
dragging thousands of tons of coal.
One of the most memorable stories involves O.P. running a train at speed
from Enola to Williamsport, in the dark of night and in a pea-soup fog. The
RFE was aboard, and found the ride petrifying. O.P. had no trouble with the
run because he knew the track so well that he knew precisely where he was by
knowing the sequence of bridges, the culverts, stations and when to look for
signals by heart.
The RFE got off at his first opportunity, scared to death.
John Burroughs was so interested in the story of O.P. Orr that he called
John Orr's home, hoping that he might have an opportunity to visit with Mr
Orr. It was a real shock to find that John W. Orr passed away shortly after
his book about his father's career was published.
This is a great book.
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On Oct 15, 2010, at 7:34 PM, Schuyler Larrabee wrote:
During this recent thread, I mulled over the many books I've readI'll enthusiastically second Schuyler on this one – and I'm certainly
not a Pennsy fan. It's the best account I've even seen of a career
in engine service during the steam era, full of fascinating detail.
Like Schuyler I've read it all the way through two or three times.
It should be in everyone's personal library.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Yea, verily. Great book.toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
Al Brown, Melbourne, Fla.
--- In STMFC@..., Richard Hendrickson <rhendrickson@...> wrote:
I agree that *Set Up Running* is a great book. I coulndn't put it down either.
Another book with lots of great information on railroad operations is *Working on the Western Maryland,* a book of employee interviews. Most of the interviews are with employees in train service.
Volume 2 is in progress.
Thanks to all who contributed to this thread. Your suggestions and descriptions have been interesting and worthwhile.
Two of the books mentioned have been ordered through Amazon because they seemed to be at a reasonable price.