RyPN Briefs September 6, 2009
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Book Review: Scranton Railroads
Written by David Crosby
Images of Rail
This is a recent installment from Arcadia Publishing in their IMAGES series of compilations of chapters of captioned images following short historic monographs. The high quality of reproduction and familiar page layout found in all Arcadia IMAGES books is evident throughout.
Crosby has chosen a particularly fertile ground for his pictorial historical overview – Scranton was home to an interesting and diverse collection of railroads and facilities from shortly after the town was founded as an ironmaking center, through the Anthracite age, and into the present. Starting in 1829 with the Delaware and Hudson, Crosby follows the fluctuations of railroading fortune in the area through present day operations at Steamtown NHS. He provides contextual information as well as documenting the ebbs and flows in railroading such that they are understandably part and parcel of the greater economic and industrial evolution of the city and its fortunes – a most appreciated addition to this history, which is missing in many specialized short histories I have seen.
If you are looking for political intrigue, however, don’t look here – Steamtown is presented as the centerpiece of a larger historic tourism group enterprise without a dissection of its (or NPS) management and operating practices. Given the very small part of the larger picture of Scranton's rail heritage Steamtown plays, it isn’t missed at all in the context of the mission of this book.
I found the book successfully presents a lot of good information as images and captions which are tied into a coherent picture loosely based on the several railroad maps of Scranton and its environs, such that armed with this book and a modern road map of the city, you could take yourself on a tour of the historic industrial and railroad sites and have good pictorial evidence showing what they were decades ago to contrast with how they look today.
Obligatory language: "Scranton Railroads, $21.99, Arcadia Publishing. Available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665."
In short, I recommend this book highly to any industrial or railroad historian planning to visit Scranton and wishing to find interesting places to see apart from those operated for tourist consumption during their visit.
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