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June 2014

Suggested Materials for RR Historian / Modeler

This brief non-comprehensive list was most recently updated September 14, 2008. These works go in and out of print depending on demand; buy them when you find them!!

Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Volume I
David F. Myrick             
This is the classic standard work on the area railroads.  It has marvelous pictures, maps, and is very readable.   Page 440 is the best all-time map of the Truckee-area RRs.  If you only buy one book, this is the one to buy.  The three-volume set is the magnum opus of the Dean of Western Railroad Historians.   Originally published by Howell-North in 1962, it was most recently re-published by the University of Nevada Press in 1992.

Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Volume III:
More on the Northern Roads

David F. Myrick
This is the long-awaited follow-up to Volume I, and is the single best source on the railroads north of the original Central Pacific [now Union Pacific] main linein California and Nevada.  It is the most comprehensive study on these railroads, and deals extensively with not only the Class I branches and subsidiaries, but the logging and dam construction lines as well.  It has many previously-unpublished photos, and is a wonderful addition to Volume I.  Published by the University of Nevada Press in 2007.

Sunset Limited
Richard Orsi
Professor Emeritus of History, California State University, East Bay. This is THE in-depth story of the building of the Central Pacific, and its place in history.  Sunset Limited is the result of many years of Dick Orsi’s concentrated research on Western Development, and therefore deals not only the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, but its social effects on the growth of the West.  His scholarly approach is detailed and complete yet very readable; consequently, this book for serious scholars of both the Railroad and the West. 

Published by the University of California Press, 2005.

 Donner Pass: Southern Pacific’s Sierra Crossing
John Signor
Great book by S.P. Historian [and Conductor], with many good Truckee-area pictures.  Good local maps, pictures, and plans.
Published by Golden West Books.

Sawdust Trails in the Truckee Basin - a history of lumbering operations
Author: Dick Wilson
Published by: Nevada County Historical Society
Complete history of Lumber and Logging industry in the Truckee Basin (the Truckee River watershed). Explained are cutting technology, transportation of logs, mills, and transportation of lumber. Key milestones are described. A complete list of lumbering operations from 1856-1936 is listed in the appendix and locations cross referenced to the maps of the area.

Snowplow: Clearing Mountain Rails
Gerald M. Best
Long out-of-print authoritative study of S.P.’s snowfighting efforts for the first hundred twenty years.  Excellent telling of the equipment and men who kept the RR running through difficult times, with first-rate photos and maps, it includes plans of snowplows and maps and plans of snowsheds.  Published by Howell-North.

TAHOE HERITAGE: The Bliss Family of Glenbrook, Nevada
By Wheeler, Sessions S. (with Bliss, William W.)
Pub Date: 1997 Publisher: Univ. of Nevada Press Binding: Trade paper Pages: 154
ISBN: 0874172993 List Price: $17.95
Anyone interested in the history of Lake Tahoe will appreciate the story of the transition of the lake from a lumber enterprise to a haven from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. More than a hundred years ago, Duane L. Bliss built his Carson & Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company, engineered the Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company, and developed a quaint hostelry into the renowned Glenbrook Inn. Tahoe Heritage is an account not only of Glenbrook and the Bliss family, but of Lake Tahoe in its earliest days.

The Railroad Photographs of Alfred A. Hart, Artist
Mead B. Kibbey
The 364 long-lost stereographs and photographs of the construction of the Central Pacific transcontinental line over Donner Pass.  These were taken by the ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHER!  The single best record of the building of the original main line and the tunnels and snowsheds.  Published by the California State Library Foundation in 1996.

The Swayne Lumber Company
Paul Beckstrom & David Braun
Most of Chapter 1 is the Truckee Lumber Co. history, pictures, and maps.  Good local early-days logging railroad and lumbering history. Published by Pacific Fast Mail .

The Central Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads
Lucius Beebe
Wonderful telling of the development of the Transcontinental Railroad, with the purple prose for which Beebe was famous.  Great storytelling by a spellbinder. Published by Howell-North.

Rails Around Lake Tahoe, Signature Press, 2012.   Summary of the railroads and steamships that worked the Lake Tahoe area, by long-time railroad historian Mallory Hope Ferrell

Tale of Two Cities and a Train
Juanita Brown
Best social history of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge and the area served, by a life-long resident.  Very good Western Nevada County photos.  Published by the Nevada County Historical Society in 1987.

Nevada County Narrow Gauge
Gerald M. Best
Same topic as above, but from a strictly RR historian’s viewpoint.  Excellent treatment of the growth and development of the NCNG, including photos, maps, and plans.  Originally published by Interurban Press in 1965.

A Baggage Car With Lace Curtains - 30 Years Over Donner
Kay and Bill Fisher
The heart-warming two-part story of a Southern Pacific Signalman’s family, working and living on Donner Pass and in Truckee.  Both are wonderful social histories of mid-twentieth century railroading in and around Truckee!  Self-published.

Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge
Mallory Hope Ferrell
How the Colorado Narrow Gauge equipment came to the West, and survived and thrived in the desert and the mountains of Nevada and California, by one of the masters of RR history.  LOCAL EQUIPMENT!  First-rate pictures and plans.  Published by Pacific Fast Mail in 1982.

Logging Railroads of the West
Kramer Adams
The earliest general Western logging collection; it draws from most of the West, and is a potpourri of Western logging.  Somewhat poor reproduction, but has a wide range of source materials.  Originally published by Superior in 1961; has been reprinted several times by various publishers.

The Old West: The Railroaders
Time-Life Editors
Excellent introductory survey on Western RR development and growth; quite general, but good initial text.  Published by Time-Life.


If you know of other publications/materials on Truckee/Lake Tahoe railroads, please contact me @ nelson.kathy6422@sbcglobal.net,
or by telephone at [530] 587-1165.  Thanks!



























































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