Last post January 2014? Man, so sad to see potentially good forums sitting around dead. Personally I find this format easier to use than some other sites, too bad this one seems to be dying a slow death!
I'm not into the flashy color books of today's railroads but I am a sucker for the memoirs and stories of the old timers of 100+ years ago. If there was no such thing as copyright laws etc you could make several good books just culling and organizing what was told in the old RAILROAD MAGAZINE in the 1940's - fascinating stuff!
For those similarly inclined, check out "Brownie The Boomer - The Life of Charles P. Brown, an American Railroader" written by Charles P. Brown, and edited by H. Roger Grant. This guy was a teen hobo back about 1900 or so, and soon after the start of that century he hired out on the first of 20 or 25 railroads he ultimately worked for. He was a brakeman and a fireman, ranging from the NYC out of New York City to the SP and ATSF in California, from the MILW in Wisconsin to the ATSF in Texas. His career ended when he lost his legs in a switching accident in 1913, or who knows how many more lines he would have worked for.
He had a fantastic memory, and while Grant edits the book and makes an occasional correction, overall that memory is right on. One thing which might annoy those with perfect grammar is Brown's lack of punctuation, for since he was essentially an orphan and missed out on much formal schooling he tended to run his sentences together so a whole paragraph would consist of only one sentence such as I am illustrating here, but let me tell you overall it did not bother me one bit because it seems as if old Brownie was sitting here beside me telling me these stories instead of my reading them in a book, and he sure had some amazing adventures to tell about for the railroads sure were busy back then. (If you can get through that sentence, this book will work just fine for you!
Runaways, fights, drunks, wrecks, boiler explosions, hobos, train holdups, you name it he was there. And by the way, Brown claims, and Grant supports him, that these are actual events he saw and not tall tales he heard elsewhere. If that stuff is up your alley give this book a shot - you will love it.