Rails Around Houston. By Douglas L. Weiskopf. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2009. paperback, many photos, 128 pages, ISBN 9780738558844, the ticket's only $21.99, round trip, front to back. All aboard!
While I was the librarian in the Texas Room of the Houston Public Library, we'd get questions about railroads. My first response was "Where's Doug?" He'd be nearby as one of the senior reference staff, and the patron's question would go to Doug because he KNEW railroads. I'd tell him, "You oughta write a book." Well, yes, now you have Doug's Rails Around Houston,a wonderfully annotated pictorial issue, part of Arcadia's series "Images of Rail."
Weiskopf also serves as the chapter historian of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. Last week he roped me into visiting one of the local conventions of railroad modellings, and I have seen the light - the light coming around the bend of those marvelous set-ups.
But Doug's focus is on the real stuff. He can be caught browsing and mulling over local train yards. He's even inserted an 1888 drawing (Courtesy Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum) of Houston's Southern Pacific train yard in the Rails Around Houston. Houston's train yards are fundamental to the area's history. In fact as the frontispiece pictorial poster shows Houston's slogan was once "Houston: Where Seventeen Railroads Meet the Sea."
The photos come from several sources, Doug, Houston's HMRC, George Werner's private Collection (George was our local tutor on railroading), Tom Marsh's Collection, the Temple Museum, and elsewhere.
Weiskopf's introductions and annotations genuinely boost the readers' grasp of the images; he begins with charterings during the Republic of Texas and then the
The strong point of the images is certainly the engines and cars, Weiskopf includes a good diversity of passenger interiors, portraits of potentates, bridges, stations and sheds, alluring travel graphics of the early period, and even the old Sunset Hospital. And, oh my goodness, he's included photos of the North Shore Interurban AND Houston's 1955 prototype, overhead, monorail.
What's my favorite? Well, on page 43 you'll find the aerial shot of Edgewood Yard in its glorious splay of maybe 50 tracks. This capillary action on the ground recalls the old Marshall, Texas yard over and through which I walked countless times in my youth. Doug, thanks for Rails Around Houston and the memories. Oh, and give me a call; a friend has asked me a question that's right down your tracks?