February 17, 2014

The Railroads of King of Prussia, PA by Michael Shaw

Choo!  Choo!  And other such train noises.  While I am by no means a railroad enthusiast (I just think the trains look pretty) I have to say that this was an informative book.  Focusing on the railroads in the King of Prussia area of Pennsylvania, it meandered through local lore and the railroad industry.

This is non-fiction and it tells the history of the Upper Merion Township and King of Prussia railroads.  It starts with the history of the area and how the towns were first settled.  Then it moves into the trade and industry and why the railroads were brought in.  The next few chapters show the evolution of transportation in the area and separates the different lines (Chester Valley Railroad, North Abrams Industrial Track, etc.) into their own chapters telling their own histories.  Chapter 10 has Railroad Testimonials from locals and Chapter 11 gives the history of some of the accidents on the railroads.  Finally, the last few chapters show the future of the railroad and the abandoned railways that are left in the area.

This book is probably going to have a very narrow scope of readers.  Those who will read it in full will be history buffs, railroad enthusiasts and people local to the area.  The next circle of readers will be the hobbyists, or those who enjoy going to museums and reading the captions under every picture.  And finally the last circle will be those people who just like flipping through the pictures and care nothing about the text at all.  Because the text is text-book format.  It gives the facts and really the only personable tone to the writing was the testimonials (which was actually my favorite section).  The text also focused more on the area than trains in general, so be prepared to read a book about King of Prussia's tracks, not the industry as a whole or the mechanical workings of trains (but really the title tells you that is what this book will be about).  Really though, I'm probably located in that last circle who likes to gush over the pictures.  I enjoyed seeing the tracks through time, the diagrams, the people at the railway stations, and the old advertisements.  I flipped through the book a couple of times just to go through the pictures.

An interesting book and worth reading just to glance through all the pictures.  If you are obsessed with railroads and time tables or the King of Prussia area, I'm sure this is something that you would definitely want to read.  If you're not so obsessed with those things, well, it may be a hit or miss with you.

**This book was received as a Free Advanced Reader's Copy**

The Railroads of King of Prussia, PA
Copyright 2013
185 pages

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