Of the thousands of books about railroads, relatively few are valuable in understanding the operation of railroading. Here are a few of our recommendations:

  • The American Railroad Passenger Car by John H. White, Jr. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, 1978. ISBN 0-8018-1965-2. 699 pages, index, many photographs and technical drawings. An excellent in-depth examination of chair cars, sleeping and other first-class accomodations, baggage and mail cars, and the technologies and business practices behind them.
  • The Cars of Pullman, by Joe Welsh, Bill Howes, and Kevin J. Holland, Voyageur Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7603-3857-1. 176 pages, black-and-white and color photos and diagrams describing the equipment and operation of the Pullman Company.
  • The Wreck of the Penn Central by Joseph R. Daughen and Peter Binzen, Little, Brown and Company, Boston and Toronto, 1971. LOC 79-161864. Describes the corporate heritage of the Pennsylvania and New York Central and affiliated roads, the growing corporate failures, and the influence of government which culminated in the disastrous Penn Central merger.
  • Robert R. Young, the Populist of Wall Street by Joseph Borkin, Harper and Row, New York, Evanston, and London, 1969. LOC 49-15300. A somewhat radical view of the history of the New York Central road, Young’s rise to leadership of the Chesapeake and Ohio, the battle for control of the Pullman Company after its forced anti-trust breakup, and the takeover of NYC which perhaps led to Young’s 1959 suicide.
  • Eleventh Annual Report on the Statistics of Railways in the United States for the Year Ending June 30, 1898. Interstate Commerce Commission, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1898. 692 pages, tables and explanations of a time when the Pennsylvania Railroad derived over 26% of its revenue from passenger operations. This and similar volumes are vital to understanding why the Pennsylvania spent over $100 million of its own money to build the cutting-edge technology Hudson River tunnels, and another $100 million to electrify its lines: not for freight but for passengers. Those sums would be in the multiple billions of dollars today.