John H. White, Jr., the author of our story on steam railroads, has written several huge and engrossing illustrated histories. The American Railroad Freight Car: From the Wood-Car Era to the Coming of Steel (Johns Hopkins, 656 pages) and The American Railroad Passenger Car (Johns Hopkins, two volumes, 704 pages) elegantly cover design and construction. White and his brother, Robert, have just honored the Cincinnati river steamer that helped ignite his lifelong interest in steam with a book all its own: The Island Queen: Cincinnati’s Excursion Steamer (University of Akron Press, 115 pages).
For a coast-to-coast tour of steam railways, John White recommends The 30th Annual Passenger Service Directory (Great Eastern Publishing, 356 pages, $11.95 ), a guidebook to 346 steam and vintage diesel lines, train museums, trolleys, and interurbans, from the fifteen-inch-gauge line at Scottsdale’s McCormick Railroad Park to the Old Wakarusa’s annual pumpkin-patch excursions in Indiana and the Cumbres & Toltec’s sixty-four-mile route between Colorado and New Mexico that reaches ten thousand feet over Cumbres Pass. The steam era also inspired one of last fall’s most beautiful books, The Last Steam Railroad in America ( Abrams, 144 pages, an oversize collection of the 1950s photographs of O. Winston Link. Link memorialized the Norfolk & Western line in its last days before the change to diesel, often using an elaborate synchronized-flash system to capture the darkly gleaming locomotives as they wheeled through small towns in the night. Thomas H. Carver’s text tells the full story surrounding Link’s magnificent pictures.
Mary Colter, the subject of Michael S. Durham’s story on the architecture of the Grand Canyon’s rim, owes much of her rediscovery to Virginia L. Grattan’s fine biography, Mary Colter: Builder Upon the Red Earth (Grand Canyon Natural History Association, 131 pages).
The displaced Lakota Sioux Lost Bird, the subject of Gene Smith’s “American Characters” column, has finally got her own full biography, Lost Bird of Wounded Knee , by Renée Sansom Flood (Scribner, 384 pages).