Railroad History – Trains – Railroad Operations

Free books on railroad history and operations, model railroading, building the transcontinental railroad. Books from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Trains & Railroad History

Hint: When a book you want to borrow at Internet Archive is already checked out, go to the Internet Archive’s ‘Search’ box, check “Search Metadata”, and search for the book’s title. Sometimes they have two or more copies.

Century Past Library


Trains & Railroad History

Railroad Collection

About 1,300 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Railroads”. Be patient as the page loads.

Railroad Travel Collection

About 130 books from the Internet Archive free online on the subject of Railroad Travel.

Railroad Building Collection

About 100 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Railroad Building”. Be patient as the page loads.

Rules Governing Employees of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Co.

in Effect January 1, 1899. Issued in Accordance with the Recommendation of the American Railway Association

Richmond, VA: Mitchell & Hotchkiss 1907        Dewey Dec.   625.2

Rules and Regulations for Conductors and Motormen

Western Ohio Railway Co. 1905        Dewey Dec.   625.2

Standard Train Rule Examination

For the use of Trainmasters, and other examining officers, in the examination of Trainmen, Enginemen, Towermen and Telegraph Operators

Toledo: Collingwood 1914        Dewey Dec.   625.2

9th edition. Contains 700 questions about rules, and the proper answers fully explained.

Selected Articles on U.S. History in the 19th Century

Notes on Railroad Accidents

Adams, Charles Francis Jr.
NY: Putnam’s Sons 1879        Dewey Dec.   625.2

Chapter headings: 1. The Death of Mr. Huskisson, 2. The Angola and Shipton Accidents, 3. The Wollaston Accident, 4. Accidents and Conservatism, 5. Telescoping and the Miller Platform, 6. The Versailles Accident, 7. Telegraphic Collisions, 8. Oil-tank Accidents, 9. Draw-Bridge Disasters, 10. The Norwalk Accidents, 11. Bridge Accidents, 12. The Protection of Bridges, 13. Car-Couplings in Derailments, 14. The Revere Catastrophe, 15. Rear-end Collisions, 16. Novel Appliances, 17. The Automatic Electric Block System, 18. Interlocking, 19. The Westinghouse Brake, 20. The Battle of the Brakes, 21. The Railroad Journey Resulting in Death, 22. The Railroad Death-rate, 23. American as Compared with Foreign Railroad Accidents

The Story of the First Trans-continental Railroad …

The Story of the First Trans-continental Railroad Book Cover

Bailey, William Francis, comp.
Bailey 1906        Dewey Dec.    385

(title continued) ” …Its Projectors, Construction and History”

The story of the Union Pacific Railroad. Chapter headings are: 1. The Project and its Projectors, 2. The Proposition in Congress, 3. Mostly Financial, 4. Commencement of the Work, 5. Progress Made, 6. Indian Troubles during Construction, 7. The Builders, 8. Completion of the Line, 9. The Kansas Division (Kansas Pacific Ry), 10. The Denver-Cheyenne Line (Denver Pacific R.R.), 11. History of the Line since its Completion, 12. The Central Pacific Railroad, Appendix

Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad

Empire Express, Building the First Transcontinental Railroad Book Cover

Bain, David Haward
Viking 1999        Dewey Dec.    385

“Bain knits together excellent storytelling and exhaustive research in a rich contextual tale of vision, ambition, and, ultimately, political and personal corruption.” -Libr J

Experiments on Rail Roads, in England …

Illustrative of the Safety, Economy and Speed, of Transportation, which this System, as now Improved, is Capable of Affording

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company
Baltimore: Wooddy 1829         Dewey Dec.    625.2

Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow: Railroads in the West

Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow, Railroads in the West Book Cover

Brown, Dee A.
Holt, Rinehart and Winston        Dewey Dec.    385

See our collections of books on Engineering and Science & Technology

Student Course in Railroading

Student Course in Railroading Book Cover

Southern Pacific Company (Pacific System) 1914        Dewey Dec.    385

Sections of the course are: General Course, Operation and Maintenance, Passenger and Freight Traffic, Accounting, General Information, Bibliography

History of the First Locomotives in America …

From Original documents, and the testimony of Living Witnesses

History of the First Locomotives in America Book Cover

Brown, William H.
NY Appleton 1874        Dewey Dec.    385

When Railroads were New

When Railroads were New Book Cover

Carter, Charles Frederick
NY: Holt 1909        Dewey Dec.    385

“Story of railroad beginnings in the United States, giving the genesis of the great lines and the development of the features that are now so familiar, and recalling the romance and vicissitudes of early railroad history.” -A.L.A.Catalog 1904-11
Chapter headings: 1. The Dawn of the Railroad Era, 2. America’s Pioneer Railroad, 3. Early Days on the Erie, 4. Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Railroad, 5. Genesis of the Vanderbilt System, 6. Incubator Railroads, 7. The First Transcontinental Railroad, 8. Through Tribulation by Rail, 9. Romance of a Great Railroad

Railroad Construction

Crandall, Charles Lee and Barnes, Fred Asa
NY: McGraw-Hill 1913        Dewey Dec.    625.1

Railway Organization and Working; A Series of Lectures delivered before the Railway Classes of the University of Chicago

Railway Organization and Working Book Cover

Dewnsnup, Ernest Ritson, ed.
Chicago: University of Chicago 1906        Dewey Dec.    385

Lectures, all by different people, cover a wide variety of topics.

Selected Articles about the History of Science & Technology

How We Built the Union Pacific Railway

How We Built the Union Pacific Railway Book Cover

Dodge, Grenville M. (Major General)
Washington: GPO 1910        Dewey Dec.    385

The author was Chief Engineer, Union Pacific Railway, 1866-1870.

All Aboard! The Railroad in American Life

All Aboard, The Railroad in American Life Book Cover

Douglas, George H.
Paragon House 1992        Dewey Dec.    385

Freight Terminals and Trains

Freight Terminals and Trains Book Cover

Droege, John A.
McGraw-Hill 1912        Dewey Dec.    385

Subtitle: “Including a revision of “Yards and Terminals”.
“A clear and comprehensive presentation based on experience, from the viewpoint of officers and constructional engineers.”
– A.L.A. Catalog (1926)

Passenger Terminals and Trains

Passenger Terminals and Trains

Droege, John A.
McGraw-Hill 1916        Dewey Dec.    385

“A somewhat technical work describing various types of way stations and terminals for passenger use, with train operation, baggage and other service.” – A.L.A. Catalog (1926)

Railroad Transportation, its History and its Laws

Railroad Transportation, its History and its Laws Book Cover

Hadley, Arthur T.
Putnam 1886        Dewey Dec.    385

Thorough exhaustive discussion. – A.L.A.Catalog 1904

Efficient Railway Operation

Haines, Henry Stevens
NY: Macmillan 1919        Dewey Dec.   625.2

Chapter headings: 1. Evolution of the Railway, 2. Railway Efficiency, 3. Motive Power, 4. Rolling Stock, 5. Roadway. Part I: Substructure, Part II: Superstructure, 6. Traffic, 7. Transportation, 8. War Time, 9. Operation, Appendices, Bibliography, List of Railroads and Railways

Letters from an Old Railway Official …

To his Son, A Division Superintendent

Hine, Charles DeLano
Chicago: Railway Age 1904        Dewey Dec.   625.2

Boys’ Book of Railways

Boys' Book of Railways Book Cover

Howden, Joseph Russell
Stokes 1910        Dewey Dec.    385

“Comprehensive survey of railway history and management, treating passenger and freight matters in separate sections. illustrations cover the whole range of rolling stock, from famous American “fliers” to a Chinese coal-car. Though written for older boys, of equal interest to men.” – A.L.A.Catalog 1904-11

American Railway Transportation

American Railway Transportation Book Cover

Johnson, Emory B.
Appleton 1903        Dewey Dec.    385

Describes existing system, discussing questions of ownership, management, monopoly and competition, rates, fares, relations with state, etc. Bibliographic references. – A.L.A.Catalog 1904

Practical Treatise on Railways, explaining their Construction and Management…

With numerous woodcuts and ten plates: being the article “Railways” in the seventh edition of the Encylopedia Britannica

Practical Treatise on Railways, explaining their Construction and Management Book Cover

LeCount, Peter (Lieut.)
Edinburgh: Black. 1839        Dewey Dec.    385

This book is about trains and all aspects of railroad operations in Britain rather than America, but is a useful guide to railroad operations as they were in the 1830s. Chapter headings are: -Preliminary observations – arrangements before commencing the works., -Preparation of working drawings, and specifications for contracts., -Mails, carriages, waggons, horse-boxes, etc., -Buildings at stations, and apparatus., -Duties of Engine-men, and necessary regulations along the line., -Description of engines, and methods of working them., -Annual expenses of railways., -Great western railway reports., -System of direction and management., -History of locomotive engines., -Explanation of the plates., -List of railways, when Act was passed, and amount of money raised, or authorized to be raised.

Railroad Freight Transportation

Railroad Freight Transportation Book Cover

Loree, Leonor Fresnel
Appleton 1926        Dewey Dec.    385

“Deals with all phases of loading, distribution of cars, movement of engines and trains and handling of men as related to transportation.”
– A.L.A. Catalog (1926)

The Working of the Railroads

McPherson, Logan G.
NY: Henry Holt 1907        Dewey Dec.   625.2

Chapter headings are: 1. The Transportation Function, 2. Construction and Operation, 3. Traffic, 4. Accounting and Statistics, 5. Financial and Executive Administration, 6. Correlation, 7. Integration, 8. Relations to the Public and the State

Railroad Administration

Railroad Administration Book Cover

Morris, Ray
NY: Appleton 1910        Dewey Dec.    385

Train Operation …

A Treatise on Train Rules, train orders, change of time table, automatic block signals, interlocking, examination questions and answers

Nichols, William
Rochester, NY: Brown 1916        Dewey Dec.   625.2

Selected Articles on Government Ownership of Railroads

Selected Articles on Government Ownership of Railroads Book Cover

Phelps, Edith M., comp.
H. W. Wilson 1914        Dewey Dec.    385.1

In the first decades of the 20th century publisher H.W. Wilson produced many volumes in its Debaters’ Handbook Series on social and political issues that were under discussion at the time. Each book contains the full text of selected articles and documents representing opposing views on the issue, along with a substantial bibliography of books and articles.

Most of the books mentioned in these guides are likely to be freely available online. Search by title; first at the Internet Archive (archive.org), then at HathiTrust.org. Referenced magazine articles may also be available online at the same sites, with HathiTrust the preferred site for magazines.

Selected Articles on Government Ownership of Railroads Vol II

Selected Articles on Government Ownership of Railroads Vol 2 Book Cover

Phelps, Edith M., comp.
H. W. Wilson 1919        Dewey Dec.    385.1

See the description under the first volume with this title, above.

Every Boy’s Book of Railways and Steamships

Every Boy's Book of Railways and Steamships Book Cover

Protheroe, Ernest
London: Religious Tract Society 1911        Dewey Dec.    380

Collection of Railroad Timetables

Rails and Trails.com
Various publishers and years of publication        Dewey Dec.   625.2

“Trains were governed by timetables. Public timetables listed passenger train schedules. Employee timetables had detailed information necessary to operate a train on that section of railroad.”
– Rails and Trails.com

This webpage has href=”https://archive.org/details/municipalruralsae4ehle”s to a number of timetables in each of these categories. Descriptions are quoted from the webpage.

Employee Timetables
“Detailed information needed to work on a division of the railroad.”

Public Timetables
“Schedules of passenger trains, usually for the complete system. Often includes map, ticket prices, travel and railroad information.”

Collection of Track Charts and Diagrams

Rails and Trails.com
Various publishers and years of publication        Dewey Dec.    625.1

“Railroads published track charts and diagrams showing track details including stations, switches, crossings, bridges, tunnels, signals, elevation and curvature. These are helpful in understanding and modeling specific railroad lines.”
– Rails and Trails.com

This webpage has href=”https://archive.org/details/municipalruralsae4ehle”s to numerous examples of diagrams in each of these categories. Descriptions are quoted from the webpage.
Straight Line Track Diagrams – Grade Profiles The railroad as the engineer sees it. Often includes bridges, sidings, stations, grades and curvature. Sometimes includes maintenance and signaling information, orientation map of areas covered.”
Side Track Charts/Diagrams “Covered areas with sidings in greater detail. Often labeled with their use, construction and abandonment dates.”
Locomotive, Car and Building Diagrams
Property/Valuation Maps
“Very detailed drawings of the railroad, buildings and property. Often submitted to the Interstate Commerce Commission for valuation or notification/approval of changes.”

Documents Describing Diagrams
href=”https://archive.org/details/municipalruralsae4ehle”s to other websites with extensive online diagrams

The Railway Builders: A Chronicle of Overland Highways

The Railway Builders, A Chronicle of Overland Highways Book Cover

Skelton, Oscar D.
Toronto: Glasgow, Brook 1920        Dewey Dec.    385

Chapter headings: 1. The Coming of the Railway, 2. Early Travel in Canada, 3. The call for the Railway, 4. The Canadian Beginnings, 5. The Grand Trunk Era, 6. The Intercolonial, 7. The Canadian Pacific – Beginnings, 8. Building the Canadian Pacific , 9. The Era of Amalgamation, 10. The Canadian Northern, 11. The Expansion of the Grand Trunk, 12. Sundry Developments, 13. Some General Questions, Bibliographical Note

Selected Articles from a Century Ago on Historical & Military Topics

The Strategy of Great Railroads

Spearman, Frank H.
Scribner’s Sons 1906        Dewey Dec.    385

“A volume illustrating the field of railroad competition. The various subjects treated are the Vanderbilt lines, the Pennsylvania system, the Harriman lines, the Hill lines, the fight for Pittsburg, the Gould lines, the Rock island system, the Atchison, the big Granger lines (St. Paul and Northwestern), the rebuilding of an American railroad, the first trans-continental railroad, the early days in railroading. – Bookman

One Hundred Years of American Railroading

One Hundred Years of American Railroading Book Cover

Starr, John William Jr.
NY: Dodd, Mead 1928        Dewey Dec.    385

The book consists mostly of brief histories of numerous railroad companies.

The Transcontinental Railroad

The Transcontinental Railroad Book Cover

Streissguth, Thomas
Lucent 2000        Dewey Dec.    385

Discusses the history of the transcontinental railroad, including the construction of the Central Pacific, Union Pacific, and other related railroads which joined the east and west coasts by meeting at Promontory Point, Utah

Railway Track and Track Work

Tratman, E. E. B.
Engineering news 1908        Dewey Dec.    625.1

General principles with numerous details of material, appliances and work, and methods of practice, with drawings. Various subjects treated critically and descriptively. – A.L.A. Catalog 1904
232 illustrations

The Story of the Railroad

The Story of the Railroad Book Cover

Warman, Cy
NY: Appleton 1906        Dewey Dec.    385

Chapter headings: 1. The Origin of the Idea, 2. Early Explorations nd Surveys, 3. The Building of the Road, 4. The Tombs of the Trail Makers, 5. The Meeting of the Rails, 6. A Brush with the Sioux, 7. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, 8. The Seer of the Santa Fe, 9. Life in a Grading Camp, 10. Peopling the Great American Desert, 11. The Road Reaches the Rockies, 12. The Invasion of New Mexico, 13. The Grand Canon War, 14. Incidents of the Early Days, 15. The Denver and Rio Grande, 16. The Northern Pacific, 17. The Canadian Pacific, 18. Road Making in Mexico, 19. The Opening of Oklahoma, 20. The Railroad Engineer, 21. At the Front, 22. The Railroad and the People, 23. The Beginnings of the Express Business, 24. The West To-day

Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America

Railroaded, The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America Book Cover

White, Richard
Norton 2011        Dewey Dec.    385

“Excellent big-picture, popularly written history of the Howard Zinn mold, hacked by a mountain of research and statistics.” -Kirkus

A Brief Review of Railroad History from the Earliest Period to the Year 1894

A Brief Review of Railroad History Book Cover

Wilson, William Hasell
Philadelphia: Allen, Lane & Scott 1895        Dewey Dec.    385

The Economics of Railroad Construction

Webb, Walter Loring
NY: Wiley 1906        Dewey Dec.    625.1

Chapter headings: Part I: Financial and Legal Elements of the Problem, 1. Railroad Statistics, 2. The Organization of Railroads, 3. Capitalization, 4. The Valuation of Railway Property, 5. Estimation of Volume of Traffic
Part II: Operating Elements of the Problem, 6. Operating Expenses, 7. Motive Power, 8. Economics of Car Construction, 9. Track Economics, 10. Train Resistance, 11. Momentum Grades
Part III: Physical Elements of the Problem, 12. Distance, 13. Curvature, 14. Minor Grades, 15. Ruling Grades, 16. Pusher Grades, 17. Balancing Grades for Unequal Traffic

How to be a First Class Trainmaster

Three prize articles and selections from fifteen competitors’ articles on the employment, instructions and discipline of men and the other duties of a first class trainmaster

Wildman, C. B. et al.
NY: Railroad Age Gazette 1909        Dewey Dec.   625.2

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