A vivid account of the origins of the transcontinental railroad -- available for the first time in trade paperback -- by the author of the bestselling The Admirals: "Borneman is masterly at writing seamless narrative." -- Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior
After the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, the rest of the United States was up for grabs, and the race was on. The prize: a better, shorter, less snowy route through the American Southwest, linking Los Angeles to Chicago. In IRON HORSES, Borneman recounts the rivalries, contested routes, political posturing, and business dealings that unfolded as an increasing number of lines pushed their way across the country.
Borneman brings to life the legendary robber barons behind it all and also captures the herculean efforts required to construct these roads -- the laborers who did the back-breaking work, the brakemen who ran atop moving cars, the tracklayers crushed and killed by runaway trains. From backroom deals in Washington, DC, to armed robberies of trains in the wild deserts, from cattle cars to streamliners and Super Chiefs, all the great incidents and innovations of a mighty American era are made vivid in IRON HORSES.