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Steam Days in Dunsmuir (Featuring Dick Murdock's "Smoke in the Canyon")
Robert J Church
Signature Press
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Date Listed:
2011-05-10 11:17:05
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Untitled Document

Steam Days in Dunsmuir

Featuring Dick Murdock's Smoke in the Canyon

By Robert J. Church.

Cloth with dust jacket, 264 pages, 8.5x11, 418 photos, appendices, bibliography, index. 2011.

"This book features fascinating personal stories by Southern Pacific railroaders who worked out of Dunsmuir, California in the heyday of big - time steam railroading. The unique mountain railroad town, established in 1886, was the headquarters for Southern Pacific's Shasta Division and a helper point where locomotives were added to assist trains in the climb out of the canyon of the Sacramento River.

"Three sections of the book contain stories written by railroaders that reveal just how it was to work in engine and train crew service. The first is a complete reprint of SP engineer Dick Murdock's 1986 book, Smoke in the Canyon, that recalls his years of working on the SP and living in Dunsmuir. The second is by Don Olsen, who worked two years out of Dunsmuir before steam operations ended. The third, "Incident at Morley," written by conductor Bill Reid, a brakeman at the time, explains train operating and track occupancy rules and recounts a tragic accident that was a result of rules not strictly followed. Shasta Division history and sections written from interviews of Dunsmuir crewmen by Bob Church complete the book.

"The stories are illustrated with historic photos, most never before published, to depict the town, the railroad, the trains and locations on the Shasta Division. Thoroughly researched captions give the reader informative insight about the railroaders and people of Dunsmuir and Siskiyou County up to the mid-1950s when SP dieselization was complete.

"Author Bob Church has collected interviews from several people and unpublished historic photos from numerous sources to illustrate the work. Comprising 264 pages, the book contains over 415 photos, along with maps and graphics, and has both a bibliography and an index.

The book will be especially appreciated by SP fans, but those who like mountain railroading will also find much to like. Steam railroading enthusiasts and anyone who appreciates living history of a bygone era are certain to enjoy this book.

"Having lived and worked in Dunsmuir for 34 years, I found the book Steam Days in Dunsmuir by Robert J. Church most refreshing. Not only is there a wealth of previously unpublished photographs of this old Southern Pacific division point town included within its covers, but they are augmented with the personal stories and adventures of the railroad men that worked here, many of whom I knew. Highly recommended." --John R. Signor, author and retired SP conductor


Preface 8
Acknowledgements 9
Introduction to the Shasta Division 11
Section I, by Dick Murdock
1. Early Days Around the Depot 31
2. The Trade Goes Through 79
3. A Matter of Acceptance 85
4. Short Stint on the Siskiyou Line 91
5. Going South for Steam 99
6. From Hostler to Passenger Fireman 107
7. And Then There Was Humor 117
8. Big Boulders and Other Stories 123
9. How About Trout and Bass 129
10. Notes and Quotes 137
11. News and Views of '54 147
12. Out of Steam 157
Chronology of Events 167
Glossary of Railroad Terms 168
Section II, by Don Olsen
13. The Lefthand Seatbox 173
Section III, by Bob Church
14. Braking on the Shasta 193
Incident at Morley, by Bill Reid 213
15. Dunsmuir Yards, A Photographic Album 235
Locomotive Assignments 254
Bibliography 257
Index 259