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Railroad avenue; great stories and legends…

Railroad avenue; great stories and legends of American railroading (edition 1945)

by Freeman H. Hubbard

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Title:Railroad avenue; great stories and legends of American railroading
Authors:Freeman H. Hubbard
Info:New York, London, Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill Book Company, inc. [1945]
Collections:Your library
Tags:railroad history, railroad lore, first person accounts, working on the railroad

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Railroad avenue; great stories and legends of American railroading by Freeman H. Hubbard



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Railroad Avenue, subtitled Great Stories and Legends of American Railroading, is a collection of articles about railroading in the United States in the 19th and the first half of the 20th Century. The subject matter includes histories, tales, poems, some pictures and illustrations, and a dictionary of railroad slang.

The histories include the obvious short biographies of individuals like Casey Jones, Jawn Henry, and Jesse James as well as individuals like Kate Shelley (a 15 year old farm girl who saved a passenger train from certain destruction) and Joseph A. Broady (“Steve” in the song “The Wreck of old 97”).

There are chapters on such diverse topics as the Andrews Raid, trackside graves, raildogs (and other adopted railroad pets), the crane with the broken neck – an interesting sidelight of the great strike of 1894, the origins of railroad names and logos, the Johnstown flood, the Great Hinckley fire, quick sketches of railroad worker heroism, the Chatsworth wreck, and The Kid in Upper 4; the last being a short discussion of what it was like to travel on passenger trains in the U.S. during World War II and a history of the ad campaigns mounted by the railroads at the time to emphasize the fact that you, as a non-combatant civilian, were not a priority.

The book was published in 1945 and along with A Treasury of Railroad Folklore and Slow Train to Yesterday, became one of the three best known and most widely read books about railroads in the immediate post World War II period in the U.S. The book has aged well and, while more recent research has modified or changed some of the presented facts of railroad history, it is still a very good read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in an overview of the human side of the railroad experience. ( )
  alco261 | May 12, 2012 |
A superb collection of US railroad folklore, including a whole chapter on Casey Jones, and a lot of railroad slang. Very interesting and enjoyable. ( )
  johnthefireman | Oct 29, 2010 |
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One hot summer evening a bleeding, exhausted shepherd pup, with sore
footpads indicating he had journeyed a long distance, dragged himself into the desert town of Peach Springs, Arizona. The Santa Fe station agent, A.M. Browning, bandaged the paws and named him Jack.

After Jack had healed, Browning started teaching him tricks, and Jack responded quickly. Soon Jack was performing real service - he began retrieving order hoops. The order hoop, as any railroad man can tell you, is a lightweight loop with a handle, in the crotch of which tissue paper train orders are inserted. For trains that do not stop at the station, the agent stands on the station platform next to the tracks and holds the hoop aloft as the engine passes. The fireman snags the hoop, removes the train order, and throws the hoop back to the ground. Depending on the train speed the distance between snagging and throwing back can be considerable. In short order Jack was saving the agent many miles of walking.

Jack loved to retrieve hoops. "Sometimes, just for fun, I remained at my
desk when I hear a train coming. Jack would run to the door, look out, then
bounce back and grab a hoop by the handle, trying to remind me to deliver the
flimsies. If I still failed to go to work, Jack would put his forepaws on my
desk, and nuzzle my face. He always stood by expectantly when I passed up orders to the head end. As soon as both hoops had been picked up by the crew, away he'd dart after them. Sometimes it took him as long as thirty minutes to find hoops that dropped in weeds, but he invariably brought them back. If one fell under a train and was broken, he'd return with the pieces, one or two at a time."

On one occasion a drag freight labored slowly up the grade. Jack had
already brought in the head-end hoop and was waiting to run back for the one from the caboose, but, instead of flipping off the hoop, the conductor sat on the caboose steps reading his order. Jack kept pace with the crummy, looking for the hoop. At length, tired of waiting and seeing the handle protrude several inches over the steps, he made a mighty leap and grabbed the hoop in triumph with his teeth.

Jacks reputation spread far and wide. "Twice a Hollywood scout stopped off
at my depot and offered me a good price for him. I said no. Separation from
the railroad would have broken Jack's heart. Finally there came a time when
Jack limped home to the station with a bullet wound in his side. He died almost
immediately. We miss him. To this day many railroaders working out of
Seligman, Arizona, and Needles, California, would like to have a few minutes alone with his killer.
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