A Rails West book report

I periodically share books that I find particularly good.  Here is a short installment in the series.  Both are older books, but very much worth acquiring if they are of interest to you and you can find them.

Tumbleweeds and Fast Freights

This book does a phenomenal job of capturing the ATSF in the State of New Mexico in the 1960-90s.  McMillan captured many nooks and crannies of the State that are rarely documented, many of which are long gone now.  Having lived in NM in the early 1990s, I really enjoyed seeing the places he documented as they were in the 1960 and 1970s.  This is an indispensable reference for modelers interested in the ATSF in the Southwest.


The photography is superb.  Below are a couple of random pages.  McMillan captured a ton of ATSF action but also often captured the surroundings.  His photos really evoke the essence of railroading in the “Land of Enchantment.”  Buy the book to see these photos in their full glory.  You can purchase from the author here.



Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad in Color

Readers of this post know the west of the Mississippi orientation of this site, but I do like a few eastern roads, such as the Wabash, Western Maryland, Penn Central and the DT&I.  You will see these roads represented in the rolling stock that visit the Rails West layout.  I have wanted the book below for some time and finally found it for a good price.  I am not disappointed in the least.  It is spectacular.  The subject matter, vivedness and clarity of the photos are great.


Most of the photos depict 1970s action (some 1960s and 1980s) and share a lot of rolling stock as well as locomotives.  It is great for someone like me who models the late 1970s-early 1980s.


The mine in the above photo inspired the IMC mine served by the C&C RR on my layout.  If you like the DT&I or even just 1970s railroading, buy this book if you can find it. Unfortunately, it is out of print but you can buy it used or a digital copy from Morning Sun Books. You won’t be disappointed.  Like Tumbleweeds and Fast Freights, this book captures the context for the trains as well so you see a lot of rail-related structures, industries, scenery and rolling stock.

For more on books, see my September 23, 2016 post entitled, Ton Ten (actually 12) railroad books.

The gold standard for me is still–


As I wrote last year–

Southern Pacific in Oregon — I love this book.  The photography is stunning and it really focuses on my era, the late 1970s-early 1980s.  The pictures are crystal clear and very vivid. This has to be one of the best pictorial railroad books ever produced.  Sadly, the company that produced this book is no longer in business.  Their Northwest Passages book on the Burlington Northern is a close second.

I hope one day soon, I can share with you an excellent book entitled–


Ship it on the Frisco, an all color book on Frisco operations across the system.  It was such a photogenic railroad that this book will be written soon I hope.  There are a few decent books out there on the Frisco, but none that matches the quality of the above books. Oddly enough, the closest I have seen is Burlington Northern and its Heritage by Steve Glischinski.  It had a small but great chapter on the Frisco.

As always, my “go to” book dealers are–

Overland Hobbies in Indiana owned by Brian Marsh


Arizona Hobbies in Arizona owned by Randy Curtin

Brian and Randy offer great prices and are both great to deal with!

Happy reading and railroading!






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