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Notes on Track is perhaps the most essential reference for anyone that designs or maintains track of any kind from both a historical sense of where concepts originated and a technical sense of what works (avoiding past failures). The book at once shows both that there have been enormous technology gains over the past 100 years, yet many things basically remain the same.
The scope of the book, including engineering and maintenance, is unparalleled in railroad literature. The consolidated view is instructive for present day track engineering.
The book is an awe-inspiring peep hole into the era. The book documents that sophisticated use of calculus had been applied to important railroad issues (spiral definitions, track response) only a few years after calculus had been first defined. The book reflects the era where railroads were among the advanced technologies of its time, attracting all the best and brightest minds. It was a technology that enabled maturation of other technologies (steel production, communications, refrigeration, many others).
The book also inadvertently dismisses later claims to discovery. Industry icons such as Professor Talbot who, in the 1920's, plagiarized his so-called spiral definition from Elliot Holbrook, who published the definition in 1880. The AREMA spiral is the Holbrook Spiral, if we were to give due credit. Notes on Track provide the documentation for this legacy.
This book's value is as a reference, particularly for engineers considering unique circumstances. This book provides the background for today's practices that few know other than "that's the way we do things".
Google deserves every accolade for making this book generally available.