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Silver Rails: The Railroads of Leadville, Colorado By Christopher James Reviewed by Forrest Whitman This is the book I want for Christmas. I've read many books about railroads and railroading, but this one stands out. Many of these rail books have great pictures of a historical era or region. Other have lots of text carefully expounding on a railroad theme. This book brings those two things together. Each topic covered is accompanied by very fine pictures, many never published before, but with just enough text to lead us on. There are over 400 color and black-and-white photos, as well as any maps to delight the rail enthusiast. At first I was skeptical of his thesis that Leadville was the central city in Colorado history. After all, there was Denver and my old city of Central City. As the chapters open up, his idea come more and more into focus and the reader becomes more and more convinced. The chapter heads say it all. All of California in This Pan, General Palmer's Pumpkins, A Gilded Town with Silver Rails and so on. He lays out the history of Colorado railroading as a constant to reach the riches of Leadville. As Harper's Magazine wrote in 1880, "All roads, it is said, lead to Rome. All railroads in Colorado try to lead to Leadville." James casts new light on old rail issues. Most of us have been puzzled by the Royal Gorge war between the Santa Fe and the Denver and Rio Grande. This was a very serious affair that resulted in the loss of at least six lives. He puts in context the battle between these two roads (and later the contest to Leadville with the Colorado Midland and the Denver South Park and Pacific). In clear terms, he outlines how the prize of Leadville led to these fierce railroad battles. James also puts into context the many cultural, carousing, wealth-generating booms and busts of Leadville. He brings to life the booms of gold, then silver, then zinc and at last molybdenum. Each boom had a good deal to do with the rail history of the town, especially the boomers, investors and magnates who made it all happen. ... For the reader prepared to fall in love with Colorado history —and especially our railroad history—all over again, this is the one. Please Santa, bring me this book.