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December 2004 - Page 19

by Doug Geiger, MMR

by Jim Fredrickson Washington State University Press P.O. Box 645910 Pullman, WA 99164 $45.00, hardcover $29.95, softcover

Realistic Model Railroad Design
by Tony Koester Kalmbach Publishing Company 21027 Crossroads Circle Waukesha, WI 53187 $19.95, softcover

Get Off and Push The Story of the Gilmore & Pittsburgh Railroad
by Thornton Waite Brueggenjohann/Reese, Inc. Distributed by the Northern Pacific Ry. Hist. Assn. P.O. Box 49394 Blaine, MN 55449 $20.00, softcover


he Mainstreet of the Northwest became the slogan of one of Americas first transcontinental railroads, the Northern Pacific. By being the first railroad into the Northwest, the NP had some of the best scenery and routes available via a train. And the paint scheme on its passenger trains was legendary. This book is the latest by the author, an ex-NP employee. He has captured the routine of the railroad through his stories and his photographs. The ten chapters cover a wide variety of NP subjects. From dome cars to Tacoma/Olympia branchlines, the author has drawn on his vast knowledge of the railroad. The book concentrates on areas around Washington (Seattle, Yakima and Tacoma, plus others) and Montana (Missoula and Livingston). Late steam and early diesels are depicted at a variety of tasks. All the photographs (which are all blackand-white) are by the author and very few have been published previously. They are clear and well reproduced. Well-written captions describe each photograph (and date it) and usually the reason for the picture. There are many photographs that only an employee of a railroad could get. This is especially true in the section that deals with wrecks and derailments. There are two detailed system maps that help identify some, but not all, of the locations mentioned in the text and captions. An index contains: listings of engines and passenger trains as seen in the photographs, and a listing of the many people mentioned in the book. Books by railroad employees tend to give the reader a special glimpse into the railroad. They can provide much more than just a technical work on rosters and corporate specifics of a company. This book is a wonderful tribute to the Northern Pacific Railway in the Northwest.


rackplanning has been raised to a new height for todays model railroader. Gone are the days of multiple mainlines, switching puzzles and toy-like bowls of wet noodle trackplans. Instead, trackplan designers these days concentrate on making their layouts an integrated transportation system. Trackplanning is now concerned with traffic patterns, interchanges and operating schemes. For these reasons, the author has presented a thought-provoking approach to model railroad design by looking at how our scale-sized pikes should better represent the real world of railroading. The book begins by discussing the merits of freelance vs. prototype modeling. Then its on to determine the plausibility of your railroad. Scattered throughout the text are some design warnings (a nice touch). The book moves into areas that further define your railroad, e.g., its name and paint scheme, the location (including signature structures that cement the railroad in the mind of the viewer and operator) and era. Only the last quarter of the book discusses some trackplanning basics. There are many color photographs, both of model and real subjects that illustrate a design topic. Many examples are taken from the authors own layout, but there are other layouts used, too. There are also some misspellings in the text, but it is wonderfully written. Some of the opinions you may not agree with, but the author usually makes a good case for all his ideas. Although the book is heavily slanted toward the transition-era (1950s) modeler, other timeframes can benefit from the insights and philosophies. The book is written for the technicians of the hobby, i.e., those modelers who delight in following prototype practices and methods of operation. If you fall into this category and have not started a layout yet, then this book should be on your short list.


here have always been prototype railroads that should never have been built. For reasons of economy or simply greed, these lines usually only garner a passing footnote in a much larger book. The Gilmore & Pittsburgh is one such railroad. Located along the border of Idaho and Montana, the G&P was built to tap silver and lead mines in Idaho. But with the bust in mining, the railroad was abandoned by 1939. Interestingly, the G&P became a branchline of the Northern Pacific, yet it never connected to any NP trackage! In 12 chapters and 106 pages, the author traces the complete history of the railroad. Beginning as most history books do, the author describes the reasons behind building the G&P. Then its on to the railroads construction. Several interesting chapters deal with daily operations, including passenger and freight services (and interchange with the Oregon Short Line part of the Union Pacific). Abandonment follows along with a description of various locations along the right-of-way. The last chapter is devoted to what can be seen of the railroad today. A well-drawn full-page map begins the book. There is also a nice detail map of the Bannock Pass region (the highest point of the railroad). The text is easy to read and covers in detail most of the railroad. All the photographs are black-and-white, many of which are quite rare. The books format is well designed; usually a photograph on the page will further describe some of the text on that page. A short list of references concludes the book. For some, tracking down and researching these obscure shortlines becomes an intense labor of love. If western shortline railroads attract your attention, then this book should stimulate your interest.



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