Sunday, February 15, 2009

Review- Verde Valley Railroads

Title: Verde Valley Railroads, Trestles, Tunnels and Tracks: The Railroads That Supported Jerome's Mining 1895-1953
Author: Russell Wahmann
Publisher: Starlight Publishing, 1983
Genre: Arizona History
Rating: B

First Line: Railroading in the Verde Valley of north central Arizona was bound up in the copper mining activities of Jerome, well-known mining hamlet perched precariously on a 30-degree mountain slope some 2,000 feet above the valley floor.

The Jerome area is one of my favorites in all of Arizona. There's something about old mining towns that has a death grip on my imagination and makes my heart go pitty-pat. Ever since Denis and I took our two nieces on the Verde Canyon Railroad, I've been interested in the trains that fight the steep grades in these mountains.

Going over the S.O.B. Trestle

Verde Valley Railroads gives a good overview of what it took to get the ore out of Jerome and to take it where it needed to go: men who were willing to risk the money, building tracks that could withstand both the climate and the heavy usage, incredible feats of engineering to build tunnels and work with steep grades, finding engines that could handle the loads of ore and non-stop shifts, and even building new towns like Clarksdale. This small (86 page) book is loaded with photographs, maps and information that gave me a much clearer understanding of the gut-wrenching work that mining is.

Verde Valley Railroads is an important addition to any library of Arizona history.


  1. A really interesting review. What is it about old trains and railways which make them so appealing? I don´t quite know why, but I also love film with old trains in them. They even sound better than the new ones (not sure I would prefer the smells, though).

  2. I am not fond of trains over trestles...I took the cog train to the top of Mt. Washington once and eeeek....

    But to have built those trestles and bridges for the trains must have been quite the feat. I will be over here, on solid ground, looking at them.

  3. Dorte--the only time the smells got to me was when we went through the tunnel!

    Caite--trestles don't bother me for some reason. Did you notice the caption under the photo? Yes, that IS the S.O.B. Trestle. It seems the workers didn't particularly like their supervisor! LOL


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