TRAINS IN TRANSITION

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I’m currently reading the Lucius Beebe classic, Trains in Transition.  Now, I do admit that I have a hard time reading his prose;  I often have to go over a sentence a couple of times to get it.  Obviously my vocabulary is not up to scratch.  Where does he find words like: coda, anabases, militated?????

I bought this used book for $5 at the local train shop – an excellent value for, in spite of my lack of education, it is a snap shot of railroading in the era of my interest.  I am fascinated with the years 1940-1941.  Originally published in 1941 (my copy is a reprint for the 1980’s), Mr Beebe does have a handle on the current events in railroading.  This was a time of great change, hence the title.  I am only partly through the book (about 1/4 of the way) and I am enjoying it as a look into how it was.

In the pages I have covered so far, a main theme is how fast has fast-freight become since the early 1920’s drag-freight era.  Interesting data is submitted for consideration and one can tell that the author has a passion for railroading and is very current.

The new diesel-electrics are discussed and he has obviously grasped the significance of this.  However, while he acknowledges it, he still suggests that steam locomotives “would still be serviceable for several decades”.  We now know that steam would essentially be extinct within the following decade and a half.  What I take from this is that the impact of EMC Demonstrator 103/103A for mainline freight could not have been appreciated then (1941) as the eventual coming tidal wave of dieselization even before World War 2 finished (1945).

The book has numerous photographs, many taken by the author himself, that are decently presented.  They are not reproduced on that nice gloss paper we all love, yet they are not as if they are photocopy-quality either.  A few are rather dark though.  The pictures (all are in-action and very dramatic) are my main interest; not so much for prototype reference, but for a feel for the period.  The commentaries are interesting as well.

I am glad this book will make the bookshelf.

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