Railroad Book Collectors

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by railohio, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Anybody else around here collect rare or out-of-print railroad books, first edition or otherwise? This summer I've made a concerted effort to catch up on books that were released, and often sold out, before I actively became a railfan. Ever get a great deal on something from an unwitting seller? Got any books that never leave the house, regardless of who wants to look at them? I've got my top ten list from my collection:

    Austin, Ed and Tom Dill. The Southern Pacific in Oregon. Edmonds, Washington: Pacific Fast Mail, 1987.

    Burwash, Martin. Cascade Division. Arvada, Colorado: Fox Publications, 1995. [signed]

    Cook, Preston. Erie Lackawanna Memories: The West End. Silver Springs, Maryland: Old Line Graphics, 1987.

    DeYoung, Larry. Erie Lackawanna in Color Volume 1: The West End. Scotch Plains, New Jersey: Morning Sun Books, 1991.

    Hastings, Philip. Chicago Great Western Iowa in the Merger Decade. Newton, New Jersey: Carstens. 1986.

    Hyde, Frederick W. Milwaukee Road. Denver: Hyrail Publications, 1990.

    Olmsted, Robert P. West End Rails. Self-published. 1992.

    Steinheimer, Richard. Backwoods Railroads of the West. Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing, 1963.

    Steinheimer, Richard. Done Honest & True. Pasadena, California: Pentrex, 1999.

    Yanosey, Robert J. Penn Central Power. Edison, New Jersey: Morning Sun Books, 1987.

    In spite of the progress I have made in the last year there are some books that still elude me. In good time...

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Not that "high end" for me, although I do try to keep it very focussed. My collection (if you can call it that) includes a couple of out of print items on my home town, which are the ones that fall into the "don't leave the house" section. The others are about Canadian National, pre-1960, and about many of the CPR and CNR predecessors in eastern and southern Ontario.

  3. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    The only out of print one I have is The Ulster and Delaware: Railroad Through the Catskills. I keep my eyes open for Penn Central Power. :)

  4. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    I got it for $20 last month. :eek:
  5. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Nice!!!! :thumb:
  6. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    My Books:
    Houghton County's Streetcars and Electric Park
    Keweenaw Central Railroad and the Crestview Resort
    The Copper Range Railroad
    The Mineral Range Railroad
    Intermodal Equipment & Operations
    Intermodal Modelers Guide Vol 1
    Intermodal Modelers Guide Vol 2
    Intermodal Railroading
    Santa Fe Car and Locomotive Plans
    Santa Fe Steel Rails Through California
    Trade Marks Of The Santa Fe Railway
  7. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    I only have one really old railroad book. It was given to me by my father in law with strict instructions never to get rid of it. It's a book titled "The Curse of Tramp Life" written by a famous tramp better known as A-no. 1. It's #3 of the 13th edition with a copyright of 1912. It's pretty frail. Again, due to its condition, it can't be worth much of anything except to somebody like me.

    Front cover...


    First page...

    Back cover...

    EDIT: I did find another copy for sale a while back that was in much better condition than mine. At the time, it was selling for $200.
  8. decapod

    decapod New Member

    You opened a can of worms...

    This thread is 2 months old so nobody may read this, but I am a huge RR book collector. I have close to 700 volumes, mostly hardback, plus all of the issues of Trains magazine back to 11/1940 except for about six, and all of Railfan (and Railfan & Railroad) back to when they started in the 1970's. I prefer first editions, but also try and get all the various editions for my favorite authors. Of course the first guy on the list is Lucius Beebe, and if I had a dollar for every Ebay listing that calls a Beebe book a FE and it's published by Bonanza, I'd have enough money to buy a few. I have all of his stuff in the Bonanza reprints, but also the original editions also by Appleton-Century, Grosset & Dunlap, etc. The originals are much higher quality, and not much more expensive, just harder to find. And Beebe signed thousands so it is not hard to get inscribed copies, I've got several. I've got his "Great RR Photographs" which was limited to around 1000 copies, but have yet to get "Two Trains to Remember" which was limited to 350 I think - not much of a book and it usually goes for several hundred dollars.

    You mentioned Bob Olmsted, I love his stuff. I have all of his books except the one out this fall about UP E units; I'll pick it up at one of the upcoming tran shows. I think he is up to nearly 40 books total, the hardest to find being Rock Island Rails (not Rock Island Recollections - very common) which I have only seen listings for 3 or 4 copies of in my life. Also hard to get by him are "Four to Remember" and "No More Mountains to Cross." I'm a black and white RR photo nut myself so I love his stuff, not so artistic but very well done.

    I personally model the Western Maryland so I have everything ever published about it. Especially nice is "The Western Maryland Steam Album." I have a copy signed by Bill Price, the author, that supposedly came from Bill's personal collection. I bought it from author Harry Stegmaier (sp) at a train show shortly before Bill died - Harry said Bill was selling stuff to pay medical expenses. I paid $90 for it - a fair price I didn't hesitate to pay. In my opinion to best collection of 1940's and 1950's color steam photos ever published.

    I also like Don Ball's stuff. While common and cheap, Don got me started both in RR books and photos. His compilations are very nice, very reasonably priced, and I love his writing style. I still remember reading in Trains magazine when he died way to young. It's been over 20 years ago, and I don't think anyone has replaced him yet.

    Best buys I can recall
    - Bookstore in Colorado Springs - got "Steam's Finest Hour" and "UP in the Turbine Era" for less than 10 bucks each...
    - Train show in Dayton - Steinheimer's "Diesels over Donner" for $15
    - show in Columbus got the first 5 volumes of the juvenile "Ralph on the Railroad" series WITH DUSTJACKETS for a total of $10. While the books are common, but copies with DJs sell for $25-50 each.
    - show in Lima last Christmas got "N&W Diesels" volumes one and two, "Lehigh Valley" by Archer, "Kansas City Railroads" and 2 other softcovers I can't recall for a total of $60. The N&W volumes sometimes sell for nearly $100 each. I got to the show 10 minutes before it closed and got the guy just as he was packing up to go.
    - I bought a whole pile of books for $10 each from a hobby shop in Brooklyn I got hooked up with on Ebay, including Prince's "NC&StL" ($100+), and several others worth nearly as much. Several more I already had, and resold them on Ebay for much more than $10.

    My favorites (as I can think right now):
    - "WM Steam Album" by Price
    - "WM in the Diesel Era" by Salamon and Hopkins
    - "Rails" by Don Ball (B&W photos)
    - The Narrow Gauge Series (first 5) by Richard Dorman - "The Southern; Durango; Gunnison; Alamosa/Salida; Santa Fe"
    - "Passion for Trains" by Steinheimer (a shame about his declining health)
    - and from a B&W photographer's perspective, anything with stuff from Steinheimer (the best), Ted Benson (a close second), Bob Olmsted (not artistic but very well done), O. Winston Link, etc. Color doesn't do as much for me beyond a historical recording aspect, but I do like Canadian Greg McDonnell's (sp?) stuff - I don't like Canadian railroads, but his books are very good. The late Gary Benson's stuff was terrific - for a color work by one photographer "Rolling Thunder" is excellent. His photos floored me. The text by Fred Frailey is entertaining also, I think Fred is the best RR writer out there today. His book on the "Blue Streak Merchandise", while on I think a boring subject (for a whole book), was nevertheless one of the best RR reads I have ever had.

    Sorry to numb your brain

    Troy OH
  9. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Two months old...And I missed it!
    Connecticut Railroads (Good info on the original Central New England)
    Country Depots in the Connecticut Hills
    Civil War Railroads and Models
    New York Central:Hudson River Division(history of the Hudson River Line, from conception to Today.
  10. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    This is going to be fun!

    I need to get Six Units to Sycamore yet as well as the various Milwaukee Road volumes. At this point I'm ready to grab whatever shows up at Summerail next year at any cost.

    I agree his stuff is good for the price. My favorite is America's Railroads The Second Generation since it covers the decidedly diesel decades of the 1960s and 1970s. I do have have a deteriorating copy of America's Colorful Railroads, a 1978 Bonanza edition, that was given to me by a friend to has since passed; it will always be on my shelf regardless of it's wear, but I am looking for an economical copy to replace it in daily use.

    This is one of two Stein books still not on my shelf. Though I don't consider it his best work it is still Stein and that alone makes it worthy of my shelf. I do still need to get all of his books signed, sooner rather than later.

    I picked up a new, sealed copy of this at Summerail this past August. It's a good book and I've spent a fair amount of time along the old Wild Mary. I have a project to collect everything that Old Line Graphics published and this volume put me to within three books of that goal.

    Wow, what a book! There are few photographers, both railroad and general, with the same power to make me pause. This is Stein's crowning achievement and rightly so as it encompasses a life's work of photography. There are a few scattered images that were skipped I would have liked to have seen included, but I certainly can't find fault with the inclusion of anything that is in there. Shortly after this book came out I had the pleasure of meeting Dick and Shirley and, in fact, Dick wanted to talk to me. I was speechless and to this day wonder if it wasn't all a dream.

    I disagree that Mr. Olmsted is "not artistic." While he isn't as widely known as others he does bring a deal of creativity to railroad photography. Given how much he has shot in the dreaded flatlands he's had no choice but to take some chances. Not every one of his shots is a winner, he's had plenty of duds, too. If you study his photography you'll see his style of artistry shine through. The greatest example of this off the top of my head is the shot on page 30 of West End Rails of the Pennsy's General in Englewood. There is certainly a message there that may only be apparent after a bit of contemplation.

    I have both The Last Steam Railroad in America and Steam, Steal & Stars and I find both to be rather kitsch and passe. Link took a novel approach in the 1950s and mastered it quite well, I can't argue that. The problem is that his approach is now outdated and overblown. People today can shoot floodlit night photos with a digital SLR and a bank of synchronized digital flashes. There are a bunch of Link imitators these days but they really haven't evolved the style. (That is the definition of kitsch, isn't it?) In the end Link used a gimmick rather well to gain notoriety. Today we can look back and marvel at how much he worked to achieve those results, but, in the end, is there really much substance to them?

    Amen. My favorite book by far is Greg McDonnell's Heartland. It is mantra at times and my nemesis at others. It is, in sum, phenomenal. (Yes, Greg knows this. He heard all about it when he signed my copy a few years back.) I also have a smattering of his other books; Lake Boats, Rites of Passage, U-Boats, and Wheat Kings all come to mind though there's probably one or two I've forgotten.

    Fred is a great writer. I've never met him but have had the pleasure of swapping e-mails back and forth from time to time. One of his best stories is actually the story of how he put together a recent feature for Trains magazine on Canadian winters. I never thought I'd see a national magazine editor use "LOL" in a story! It was a great story and gave some welcome background information on the published article.

    That was fun! Next!

  11. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I'm looking to get an unabridged copy of the Pictorial Supplement to Mac Poor's Denver South Park & Pacific (my current is an abridged reissue), the 1879 and 1888 Car Builder's Dictionary, John White's American Railroad Freight Car, and a couple current books: Sundance's Colorado Central book and Next Stop Honolulu.

    Currently there is a $600 buy-it-now for Poor's book (I have a memorial edition already). There is a Pictorial Supplement for $210.
  12. decapod

    decapod New Member

    Hey BS - thanks for your reply. Reading yours was more fun than writing mine. A couple of qualifications/disagreements:

    1. Bob Olmsted - I'm not criticizing Bob, just stating that his work is repititive, but I like it otherwise I wouldn't own all of his books (got that Streamliners book in December). Bob is me, just better - I take black and white 6x6cm photos of trains, and I keep ending up with pictures of trains. I want to get Steinheimer and Benson stuff, pictures of trains in the environment, but I end up with pictures of trains. The recent Railroad Heritage from 2007 celebrating the photography of Beebe and Clegg has an excellent analysis of Beebe's changing style, as influenced by Clegg and his professional training, which became more pictorial with pleasing backgrounds and skies. I'm trying to get a pleasing landscape photo that just happens to have a train in it.
    2. Link. I agree to an extent with your comments, and don't want to parrot them, but let me ramble in my own small words. The thing that strikes me about Link is that what he did took a terrific amount of work and talent, and while by today's standards is still very good, and has been copied a millon times (thanks Jim Boyd and Steve Barry et al), at the time he did it, it had never been done before. In addition, most of his disciples are shooting posed shots, while most of Link's stuff was well planned, but still captured trains in action. If you caught the recent night color stuff in Trains magazine, I thought it was very average. But then I think Trains magazine in the past few years has become very average. I keep letting my subscription run out, but end up signing up again because I want the news items - if not for that I would just buy them used a train show for 25 cent each like I do Model Railroader. But I am getting danged tired of the top 10 list type of journalism it has degraded into, and these photo salons with average photos and terrible writing like this Bachman guy they dug up. I can't believe Railfan & Railroad has become my favorite. And yes, I do think there is terrific substance to Link's work, both in preparation, execution, and the darkroom. As far as a gimmick is concerned, how about all of these well-praised western photographers that have one after another 300mm+ telephoto mashed up shot of head-on diesels with the annoying heat-distorted background above the locos. One man's gimmick is another's art?

    I'm in the railroad wasteland of Ohio also. Maybe that's why I am Bob Olmsted instead of Dick Steinheimer. I loved your message. Glad to know there are other freaks like me out there.

    Jon - Troy OH
  13. I realize this thread is quite old.

    I have a hardbound 1921 Maintenance of Way Cyclopedia. I was amazed there wasn't even a cover photo of the book to be found on the internet. The book belonged to my grandfather, who, at the time, was working for the Cotton Belt Route of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Lines.

    Outside of a copy of it that can be purchased on CD-ROM (with scaling software for model railroad engineers), there's little else on the internet about it. I don't know that much about the railroad. I'm sort of a backyard tinkerer / inventor. Is the book that rare or is there just not enough interest from other owners of the text?

    I love the old books like this one. It's fascinating to see how far technology has taken us over the decades. Sometimes I wonder if it's in the right direction :)

    I ran across this post while searching for information and joined so I could post.

    Thank you for having me,
    Jerry W. Swatsell

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