H. Roger Grant’s Latest Book Released

H. Roger Grant’s latest book, Twilight Rails: The Final Era of Railroad Building in the Midwest, has been released by the University of Minnesota Press. The book provides case studies of eight railroads that built in the Midwest early in the 20th century as the nation’s railroad building era was coming to a close.

Grant, who is a life member of the Akron Railroad Club, writes in Twilight Rails that although a vast network of rails covered the nation by 1900, some still believed that the nation’s railroad network was far from complete.

This was particularly the case in small towns in the Midwest that lacked rail service. Civic leaders lobbied hard to attract steam or electric railways to their community. Twilight Rails notes that the success of these late-building railroads was mixed. Some enjoyed a degree of success, but others were financial failures even before the coming of dependable highway transportation made them obsolete.

Among the successes that Grant writes about was the Akron, Canton & Youngstown, which became a viable short-line road that lasted until its 1964 merger with the Norfolk & Western Railway. Much of the former AC&Y, which was headquartered in Akron, still remains in service today as the modern Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.

Grant notes in the introduction to Twilight Rails that many historians have considered railroads built in the early 20th century to be examples of unwise business ventures. However, Grant finds that these railroads provided much-needed transportation to the communities that they served and they were much celebrated when they opened for business.

Aside from providing transportation, these railroads pumped money into local economies during their construction phase and provided better access to markets for farmers and manufacturers. Land values increased and having a railroad inspired local businesses to expand. Grant argues that even the least successful railroads managed to significantly improve their local economies.

Grant is the Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History at Clemson University. He is the author of numerous books on railroad history, including Erie Lackawanna: The Death of an American Railroad. Grant is also an avid collector of railroad public timetables.

The book is available in hardback and retails for $39.95. The ISBN is 978-0-8166-6562-4. For further information or to order the book from the publisher, click on the link below.


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