Carlos Arnaldo Schwantes (Author), James P. Ronda (Author)

University of Washington Press/ Washington Historical Society 2008

Hardcover 229 pages

Raiway/ History - North America

9 x 12 inches


The West the Railroads Made

SKU: 10453
  • By publisher:

    Named an "Outstanding Title" in University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries, 2009

    America's Railroad Age was little more than a decade old when Ralph Waldo Emerson uttered these prophetic words: "Railroad iron is a magician's rod in its power to evoke the sleeping energies of land and water." Railroads exercised a remarkable hold on the imagination. The railroad was not merely transportation; it was a technology that promised to transform the world. Railroads were second only to the federal government in shaping the West, and nowhere was that shaping more visible than on the Great Plains and in large parts of the Pacific Northwest.

    The West the Railroads Made recounts the stories of visionaries such as Henry Harmon Spalding, Samuel Parker, and Asa Whitney, who imagined the railroad as a new Northwest Passage, an iron road through the West to the Orient. As the idea of a Pacific Railroad grew in the 1840s and 1850s, many Americans imagined the West as a fertile garden or a treasure chest of priceless minerals. Railroads could deliver the riches of that West into the hands and pockets of the modern world. These two compelling ideas--the railroad and the West--came together to create an irresistible dream. Filled with contemporary accounts, illustrations, and photographs, The West the Railroads Made offers a fresh look at what the iron road created.

  • Carlos A. Schwantes
    Mercantile Endowed Professor for Transportation Studies

    James P. Ronda is a now retired Western American historian. He is also an emeritus professor of history at the University of Tulsa. During his career, which began at Youngstown State University and finished at the University of Tulsa, Ronda became known for his research on the Lewis and Clark expeditions. Wikipedia


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