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“Hear the clear, hard call of her bell: CLANG-CLANG! CLANG-CLANG! CLANG-CLANG! Hear the HISSSSSSSSS and the SPIT of the steam! Hear the engine breathe like a beast: HUFF HUFF HUFF!”
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“Here is a road made for crossing the country, a new road of rails made for people to ride.” As we read these words we are standing in the center of some railroad tracks staring on a beautiful sunny day at the horizon where they disappear. A couple pages cover the creation of those tracks that were part of the transcontinental railway system, and then we meet our average family. In Omaha, Nebraska, 1869, a family waits for their train. When at last it arrives they board, bound for San Francisco. From here, Floca takes you through every step of this trip. He introduces people like the brakemen or the conductor. He discusses what makes the train run and the places you pass along the way. Everything from toilets and food to sleeping arrangements and rickety bridges are discussed. By the end the family arrives in one piece in San Francisco, grateful to the train but relieved to be off it once more. Backmatter includes an extensive “Note on the Locomotive” as well as a useful listing of various sources.
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