The Reading Railroad: History of a Coal Age Empire Volume I: The Nineteenth Century by James Holton. Hardbound, copyright 1989. Massive, well-researched 356 page volume filled with all things Reading.
“This book is about more than just one pioneer regional railroad. In telling the story of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad – which found itself transformed from a modest local enterprise into the dominant carrier of anthracite just as that mineral became the essential fuel for the Industrial Revolution – the Reading history reflects the trials and triumphs that marked the young country’s phenomenal industrial growth in the middle years of the last century. The complex study of this relatively small railroad company that became one of the nation’s first conglomerates and the wealthiest corporation in the world will require two volumes. The books are divided, quite naturally, by the turn of this century.
This first volume covers the painful beginning of the enterprise as the impoverished company wins dominance of the powerful Schuylkill Canal, through the years of spectacular expansion and the turbulent period of the 1870s when the company’s management was embroiled in successive bitter and sometimes bloody battles with the militant Molly Maguire movement, newborn labor unions, the great Pennsylvania Railroad and other anthracite railroads, English investors and stubborn coal mine operators. In the final decades of the century, the Reading suffered three disastrous failures, but escaped absorption by the great trunk lines largely because of the protection of the greatest financier of the time, J. Pierpont Morgan.
There were other titans of that era who also were deeply involved in the Reading’s affairs, some as allies, others as would-be suitors, and some as enemies: Andrew Carnegie, William K. Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, George B. Roberts, John D. Rockefeller, John Wannamaker and Chauncy Depew. The Reading also produced its own cast of colorful corporate characters, especially Frank B. Gowen and A.A. McLeod, presidents who were responsible for some of the company’s most spectacular excesses, as well as notable achievements.
The author – a product of a multi-generational Reading Railroad family – has drawn on a lifetime’s abiding interest in the “comp’ny”, as well as a half a century of experience as a nationally respected journalist to complete the first comprehensive history of the company. It is written in a vivid prose style that captures the drama and dynamics of the days when coal was king, and the Reading was its master.
Throughout the book, the author pays particular attention to the men of the Reading- the brass hats as well as the hoggers and tallow pots – to give the story of the Reading a human dimension seldom found in railroad books. At the same time, the Reading’s superb motive power fleet, largely the product of its own shops in Reading, receives generous attention, befitting the acclaim its innovative ideas won in the railroad world.
The colorful text is supplemented with 272 illustrations, plus 12 color plates, and 40 maps. Three of the color plates are paintings by the author.”
~From the dusjacket of The Reading Railroad: History of a Coal Age Empire Volume I: The Nineteenth Century by James Holton.
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PLEASE NOTE: The Reading Railroad: History of a Coal Age Empire Volume I: The Nineteenth Century by James Holton is available in both this hardcover with dust jacket version and in a very limited edition format that incorporates gilded lettering on a leather bound cover and binding, housed in a matching slipcase. Garrigues House published a total of 50 of these volumes, each signed and numbered by the author. We are down to approximately 3 copies each of this extremely limited edition of The Reading Railroad: History of a Coal Age Empire Volume I: The Nineteenth Century and The Reading Railroad: History of a Coal Age Empire Volume II: The Twentieth Century. Please call us if you would like to purchase either Volume I or Volume II in this slipcover edition.