Landmarks on the Iron Road
Two Centuries of North American Railroad Engineering
By William D. Middleton.
Softcover reissue, 8.5x11," 215 pages, 240 b&w photos. 1999.
"Middleton takes a look at the construction of some of these 'marvels of engineering,' which were used to conquer every type of terrain imaginable. Middleton, a civil engineer and railroad historian, combines his interest in these two fields to provide a fascinating look at the engineering wonders of North American railroading. . . . This is an excellent book that should appeal to anyone interested in railroads." - Railfan & Railroad
Although railroad engineering began in England, railroad builders on this side of the Atlantic developed uniquely American techniques and practices. American civil engineers were unsurpassed in their ability to build railroads over great distances and across high mountain passes, to erect great bridges, and to bore tunnels of prodigious length. Landmarks of the Iron Road tells the remarkable story of the building of a transportation system that civilized and settled America, supported an industrial revolution, and created a world power.
"William D. Middleton, this country's foremost railroad historian, tells the fascinating story of the development of the new profession of civil engineering in the 19th century. Most American engineers learned their trade at West Point or at technical schools and institutes in Europe and the United States, but some were self-taught. These early practitioners soon acquired the skills they needed to build railroads rapidly and economically. Their innovation and daring led to the development of the methods and machines that transformed tunneling from hand drilling to black-powder-blasting art to a modern technology of shields and tunnel-boring machines. The railroads' needs dictated that bridge design change from a trial-and-error art to a science. They fostered modern structural engineering practices and advanced the development of structural materials.
"Landmarks on the Iron Road is the first book to focus on the physical plant over which railroads operate: the roadbeds, tracks, bridges, and tunnels, subjects often taken for granted. It is a volume no rail fan or student of engineering should be without."