The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West
In the summer of 2000, David Haward Bain and his family left their home in Vermont and headed west in search of America’s past. From Omaha to San Francisco, Bain and his family retraced the entire route of the first transcontinental railroad. Following abandoned railroad tracks and the traces of old wagon trails, cruising down back roads and main streets, they discovered the deep, restless, uniquely American spirit of adventure that connects our past to our present.
A superb writer and an exacting researcher, Bain conjures up the marvelous sense of coming unstuck in time as he lingers in the ghost towns and battlegrounds, prairies and river ports, train yards, museums, and diners that line the old emigrant routes of the railroad and the Lincoln Highway. As he cruises west to California, Bain encounters a fascinating cast of characters, both historic and contemporary—from Willa Cather to Marlon Brando, from pathfinder John Fre´mont to naturalist Terry Tempest Williams. Here, too, are memories of Bain’s own grandparents and the journeys that shaped his own heritage.
Writing in the tradition of William Least Heat-Moon and Ian Frazier, yet with an engaging warmth and a deep grasp of history all his own, Bain has fashioned a quintessentially American journey.
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The old iron road: an epic of rails, roads, and the urge to go WestUser Review - Book Verdict
The titular Old Iron Road is none other than the nation's first transcontinental railroad. Bain's previous Empire Express chronicled the building of the railroad, but this new work takes the form of a personal travelog. In the summer of 2000, the author and his family followed the route of this historic track by automobile, traveling from Kansas City, MO, to San Francisco via Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. Historic accounts of particular people and places along the way make for lively and interesting reading, along with Bain's entertaining descriptions of and reflections on modern events and sights. Scout's Rest Ranch at North Platte, NE, offers him the opportunity to discuss "Buffalo Bill" Cody, while Elko, NV, brings out Bing Crosby's connection with the town. The overall effect is a modern exploration of the American West and its development of a sense of place in the tradition of Charles Kuralt and Bill Moyers, with whom Bain has previously worked. Highly recommended for public and high school libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.]-Nathan E. Bender, Buffalo Bill Historical Ctr., Cody, WY ...
Review: The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go WestUser Review - Goodreads
A great tale of crossing the United States by a writer passionate about the country's history. A must read for those who are going on that particular road trip from St. Louis to San Francisco! Beats a guide book any day, and to boot is much much better reading.
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The Odyssey Begins
Rails and the River
The Lincoln Highway
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