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Sierra Grande Press, P.O. Box 658, Sandia Park, New Mexico 87047 • silverrails@sierragrandepress.com

 

 

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 "Silver Rails is a superb account of the symbiotic relationship of rails and mines as it developed for over a century in Leadville... The author is a meticulous researcher with a flair for good writing who blends the perspective of an academic historian with a enthusiasm for his topic. He covers all the economic and operational details of mountain railroading (especially during the winter at over 10,000 feet elevation) in the context of the life and time of the community. There are intriguing sidebars on items like the mysterious 1879 grave of Jane Kirkham, a contemporary account of Ulysses S. Grant arriving on the very first train, and a description of during Prohibition, with "The Cloud City" was known as the bootleg capital of Colorado, train crews smuggled barrels of moonshine in the water compartments of the locomotive tenders. A final chapter contains an excellent account of the struggle to establish today's Leadville Colorado & Southern tourist railroad... James consulted a wide range of primary and secondary sources and made personal interviews, all meticulously credited.  An impressive array of illustrations, including many from private and obscure collections previously unpublished, documents the perils and pleasures of life above timberline down through the years. A list of "paper" railroads (proposed but never built), footnotes, bibliography and a detailed index are included. The publisher has also produced a very attractive physical book. Reviewer Info: Charles Albi is a Colorado native who has spent a lifetime studying the history of the American West and its railroads. He worked as an underwriter for a national commercial insurance company before becoming the executive director of the Colorado Railroad Museum for twelve years. He edited the museum's Colorado Rail Annuals for many years and continues as a volunteer there and in the Denver Public Library's Western History and Genealogy Department. Center for Colorado Studies at the Denver Public Library