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The people's road: On the trail of the…

The people's road: On the trail of the Newfoundland railway (1995)

by Wade Kearley

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Recently added bywaltzmn, fogoinn, ganderlibrary



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This is a hard book to review. It's incredibly tedious -- but you may like that.

It depends on what you actually want from a book. Based on the title, you might think this is a history of the Newfoundland Railroad. (I did.) But it isn't. It's a travel book.

Oh, there are a few pages of history -- a nice summary (which, however, would be a lot more useful if it were at the beginning, not stuck on pp. 55-65 with no indication that it isn't just another chapter). But the rest of the book describes author Kearley's walking trip along the old path of the Newfoundland Railroad, which had been begun in the 1880s and was finally shut down in 1988, with the tracks and ties taken up soon after.

The railroad lost money for most of its existence, so little wonder it shut down (although there were plenty of people who thought it could have continued running. I'd think their case would have been a lot better had it been standard gauge rather than narrow gauge, and not built on the cheap). The stupid part was, even though it was at least partly government-owned for effectively all of its existence, no one really figured out what to do with it when it was closed! One proposal was to make it into a walking trail -- and so Wade Kearley set out to walk it.

Hence the travel book aspect. He talks about the places he visited along the way, the people he met, and how much pain he suffered in his feet. For me, that's what turned it from dull to deadly. But you might like tales of blisters and bunions. If you do, this is definitely the book for you. Me, I found even the people stories dull. I don't care, Mr. Kearley, that you left your canteen behind and someone kindly brought it back to you. Tell me about the railroad! For me personally, this is maybe a two star book (and it would be a one star book were it not for that history diversion on pages 55-65). For someone who likes travel advice and tricks for retaining old socks, it might be three stars. For someone who wants to hear about people on an abandoned railroad route, presumably it's about four. So I gave it three stars. But if ever a rating needed a standard deviation score, this is the book for it. ( )
1 vote waltzmn | Apr 5, 2019 |
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to Julianne and Sasha
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In 1957 Ralph Bascom presented a brief to the Provincial Cabinet, on behalf of the Union of Locomoters, Firemen and Engineers, recommending ways to improve railway services and cost-effectiveness.
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