The Railroad in American History Book Reviews

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Children's Bookwatch, March 2013

On The Birth of the Locomotive (1780s-1820s)

The Birth of the Locomotive (1780s-1820s) is the first book in a juvenile, nonfiction series titled The Railroad in American History. Written to interest middle school students from grades 4-7, this series covers the birth and growth of the American railroad system from the 1780s to the present, in five consecutive titles. First of the series, The Birth of the Locomotive (1780s-1820s) covers the beginning and early days of railways and beginning steam engines up through the first railways, including the building of the first steam engine locomotive to ride on the rails, the Penydarren in 1804, in Wales, England. Two "fathers ofthe railway"·are featured; George Stephenson of Wylam, England (1741-1848), and William Hedley of the same area of Wylam, England. Informative sidebars, color photos of places of interest, a timeline, chapter notes, glossary, and bibliography complete the narrative of this exciting documentary. The series acknowledges Milton C. Halberg, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at Pennsylvania State University for his expert assistance in the history of early rail systems. Internet resources and addresses are included at the end, and this entire series, suitable for educational libraries in hardbound editions, is also available in eBook format.

Booklist, January 2013

On The Birth of the Locomotive (1780s-1820s), Electric Trains and Trolleys (1880-Present), The Railroad and the Civil War (1860s), and The Railroad Fuels Westward Expansion (1870s)

Travel from coast to coast in the eighteenth century took months by wagon or by ship. Of course, the trip could be shortened across Panama—if yellow fever or robbers didn't kill you. Complemented by archival photos and reproductions, these titles in the Railroad in American History series show just how revolutionary train transportation became in making travel faster and safer. The Birth of the Locomotive re-creates the excitement of spectators catching their first glimpse of this new technology and presents a detailed history of steam engines and how they came to power locomotives. The Railroad and the Civil War chronicles the development of the transcontinental railroad, including a reliance on Chinese immigrants as labor, and how this railroad connected a war-torn nation. The Railroad Fuels Westward Expansion examines the pros (new opportunities for settlers and continued improvements in train safety) and cons (infringement on Native American culture and near extinction of buffalo) that resulted from the rapid expansion of the West via trains. Electric Trains and Trolleys describes how these modes of transportation changed city life and gave rise to suburbs. Interesting asides relate more information on influential individuals and such advancements as time zones across the country to keep trains on schedule. Extensive back matter completes each book.