This book features fascinating personal stories by Southern Pacific railroaders who worked out of Dunsmuir, California in the heyday of big-time steam railroading. The unique mountain railroad town, established in 1886, was the headquarters for Southern Pacific's Shasta Division and a helper point where locomotives were added to assist trains in the climb out of the canyon of the Sacramento River.
Three sections of the book contain stories written by railroaders that reveal just how it was to work in engine and train crew service. The first is a complete reprint of SP engineer Dick Murdock's 1986 book, Smoke in the Canyon, that recalls his years of working on the SP and living in Dunsmuir. The second is by Don Olsen, who worked two years out of Dunsmuir before steam operations ended. The third, Incident at Morley written by conductor Bill Reid, a brakeman at the time, explains train operating and track occupancy rules and recounts a tragic accident that was a result of rules not strictly followed. Shasta Division history and sections written from interviews of Dunsmuir crewmen by Bob Church complete the book.
The stories are illustrated with historic photographs, most never before published, to depict the town, the railroad, the trains and locations on the Shasta Division. Thoroughly researched captions give the reader informative insight about the railroaders and people of Dunsmuir and Siskiyou County up to the mid-1950s when SP dieselization was complete.
Author Bob Church has collected interviews from several people and unpublished historic photographs from numerous sources to illustrate the work. Comprising 264 pages, the book contains over 415 photographs, along with maps and graphics, and has both a bibliography and an index.
The book will be especially appreciated by SP fans, but those who like mountain railroading will also find much to like. Steam railroading enthusiasts and anyone who appreciates living history of a bygone era are certain to enjoy this book.
Preface, Acknowledgements, pp. 7-9;
Introduction to the Shasta Division by Dick Murdock, pp. 11-30;
Early Days Around the Depot, pp. 31-78;
The Trade Goes Through, pp. 79-84;
A Matter of Acceptance, pp. 85-90;
Short Stint on the Siskiyou Line, pp. 91-99;
Going South for Steam, 99-106;
From Hostler to Passenger Fireman, pp. 107-116;
And Then There Was Humor, pp. 117-122;
Big Boulders and Other Stories, pp. 123-128;
How About Trout and Bass, pp. 129-136;
Notes and Quotes, pp. 137-146;
News and Views of '54, pp. 147-156;
Out of Steam, pp. 157-166;
Chronology of Events, pg. 167;
Glossary of Railroad Terms, pp. 168-172;
The Lefthand Seatbox, pp. 173-192;
Braking on the Shasta, pp. 193-212;
Incident at Morley by Bill Reid, pp. 213-234;
Dunsmuir Yards, A Photographic Album, pp. 235-253;
Locomotive Assignments, pp. 254-256;
Bibliography, Index, 259-264.
Signature Press, 264 pages, 8.5 x 11 x 1 in.; 418 photographs; appendices, bibliography, index.