"The mighty locomotive attacking the grade... to unite this wealthy state cut up by its topography had become the most familiar image of California’s railroads..."

This book is an engaging photographic and textual record of the railroads of the Sierras in the last days of steam. From his boyhood, Matthews was fascinated with train photography and mountain vistas. Father and son camped along routes frequented by trains going east and west through the Sierra mountains to capture the amazing shots in this book. For example, in one photo the author and father had to jump aside to avoid being struck by a train preparing to enter the tunnel where they had previously camped for the night.

The history given on train engines identified by the photo captions will undoubtedly prove useful to fans of these railroad engines, from steam to the earliest days of diesel. Also interesting is the information about the actual routes and types of uses that occurred over the early years once the transcontinental railroad commercially linked the East and West Coasts. Those who used the trains included miners, tourists, and Hollywood movie teams reaching remote "Wild West" sets. In addition, valuable natural resources such as lumber and produce such as apples from Washington were transported to other areas via the trains. Bridges, trestles, and crossings were also captured for all time in the photographs.

The book’s overall effectiveness might have been enhanced by the inclusion of a glossary and a list of the train types and classes. However, it is still the perfect gift for historians and enthusiasts who have always wanted to ride the western rails. Fittingly, the author dedicates the work to his deceased father, Frederic Hamilton Matthews, who supported his fascination with trains until passing away in 1952.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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