Local Author Showcase

On March 23, 2019, I will participate in the 6th Annual Local Author Showcase sponsored by the Henderson Public Libraries. This outstanding event will take place at the Paseo Verde Library, 280 South Green Valley Parkway, Henderson, Nevada.

The entire program runs from 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM. Because there are so many fine authors in our community, the library will once again divide the participants into a morning and an afternoon group. I will be present from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM when I will autograph all three books in The Iron Horse Chronicles. This year I can offer all three books with award-winning stickers for the Will Rogers Medallion Awards they have received; plus, the first place in fiction award sticker from The Wyoming State Historical Society for Bear Claws.

Please stop by, say hello, and buy some books from the local authors (including me, of course). This will be the fourth time I have been invited to participate in this event.

Posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Book Signing, Eagle Talons - Book One, Golden Spike - Book Three, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Transcontinental Railroad, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On the Railroad 150 Years Ago

In February 1869, both the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad were stymied in their race to be first to Ogden, Utah, by fierce snowstorms.

In Wyoming, the Union Pacific’s 90-mile line between Rawlins Springs and Laramie was shut down for three weeks. Two hundred eastbound passengers on their way to Washington, D. C., for the upcoming presidential inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant were stranded. Dan Casement, of the Union Pacific’s Casement brothers’ tracklaying company, reported 25-feet-deep cuts entirely filled with snow. UP’s Engine 112 attempted to plow a path through the deep snow but overstrained its boiler and blew up. The engineer, fireman, and conductor were killed.

The Central Pacific faced similar delays with snowstorms in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. This hampered getting rails and equipment to James Strobridge’s tracklaying efforts east of Wells, Nevada. By mid-February, the CP was farther from its hoped-for destination of Ogden than was the UP, which then was just 20 miles east of that city. On the last day of this leap-year month, the CP had pressed 40 miles beyond Humboldt Wells, Nevada, getting close to the Utah border. By months-end, the UP had reached Uintah, Utah, at the mouth of Weber Canyon, less than 10 miles from Ogden.

No official meeting place for the two railroads had yet been agreed upon.

I wrote about the snow delays in Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Three.

Posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Central Pacific, Eagle Talons - Book One, Geography, Golden Spike - Book Three, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Transcontinental Railroad, Union Pacific | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The “Shrine”

My sister, Suzanne Fisher, of Farmington, New Mexico, recently presented me with a framed photograph taken by Philip Boden, of Durango, Colorado, entitled “Baldwin-K36 Class Steam Locomotive.” This photo is of Engine 486 working on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. My sister and her late husband, Gary Fisher, treated my wife, Barbara, and me to that thrilling trip on the DSNG up the beautiful Animas Canyon in southwestern Colorado when I retired in 2003. That was a few years before I embarked on writing The Iron Horse Chronicles, my trilogy set at the time of building the first transcontinental railroad. Although the DSNG is not part of the transcontinental railroad, memories from that personal journey inspired several scenes when I wrote about Will Braddock pursuing his quest to determine his own destiny.

Sister Suzy’s photo gift now hangs on the wall above what my wife calls the “shrine.” Barbara conceived of this way of showcasing Eagle Talons, Bear Claws, and Golden Spike in our home. Each of the books is displayed along with its particular Will Rogers Medallion Award, and in the case of Bear Claws the certificate designating it as First Place in Fiction from the Wyoming State Historical Society.

Thank you Suzy and Barbara.

Posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Book Awards, Eagle Talons - Book One, Golden Spike - Book Three, Iron Horse Chronicles' Characters, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Transcontinental Railroad, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Reader’s Question

Recently a reader asked me why and how I wrote The Iron Horse Chronicles. I decided to share my answer with all the readers of this website.

The idea for The Iron Horse Chronicles first came to me in 2006 when I was reading Stephen A. Ambrose’s book, Nothing Like It In The World, which is a narrative history of the building of the first transcontinental railroad. I have been a railroad aficionado since I was a boy and built a model railroad, and I have always been a history buff. It occurred to me that this important historical event would appeal more to younger readers if it were fictionalized. I particularly had my own grandchildren in mind as readers. My original idea was to write a single, middle-grade novel. It became apparent from my original outline that I could not cram everything into one book—a student wouldn’t be able to lift it. Therefore, the trilogy was chosen as the best vehicle. Over several years, I traveled the route of the railroad from Omaha, Nebraska, to Sacramento, California. I visited all the museums and historical sites along the way. I made sure to stop at the locations about which I planned to write so the scenes I composed would accurately reflect those sites. In the process of doing research, I read over 150 books and perused 300 websites about the railroad, the exploration of the West, the plight of the Indians, contemporary weapons’ technology, and mid-nineteenth century life in general. Basic research was completed before I started writing, but it continued through all of the years of writing the three books. I developed an accurate timeline and decided my characters had to be present at the more significant events involved in building the railroad. My characters evolved as I outlined the books from 2006 to 2008. The outline for Eagle Talons is 10,000 words, for example. I developed what is known as a “Writer’s Bible” containing timelines, maps, calendars, historical notes, character rosters, historical character biographies, backstory biographies for fictional characters, and other matters I needed to reference quickly while writing. I decided to use the omniscient third-person point of view so I could reveal the thoughts and actions of the three principal characters. I selected fictional character names that are familiar today, but were also common in the nineteenth century. I purposely made the antagonist an Irishman so no one could accuse me of prejudice. My characters were firmly in mind before I put the first words to paper in 2009. By the end of that year, I had finished book one. From 2010 through 2012, 33 agents and publishers rejected the book. In 2013, Five Star Publishing acquired the rights to book one. Five Star specializes in western and frontier fiction, and they are a major provider of books to libraries–public and educational institutions. While marketing book one, I proceeded to write the other two books. Subsequently, Five Star also acquired and published books two and three.

This was such a good question, I have added the answer to the FAQ section of this website.

Posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Central Pacific, Eagle Talons - Book One, Geography, Golden Spike - Book Three, Iron Horse Chronicles' Characters, Museums and Parks, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Transcontinental Railroad, Union Pacific, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On the Railroad 150 Years Ago

The following was originally posted on January 9. It did not get distributed to various social media sites with which I share my posts, so I’ll repost it.

In January 1869, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., grandson and great-grandson of U. S. presidents, published an article in the North American Review (the oldest literary magazine in the US) entitled “The Pacific Railroad Ring.” He was making public the financial shenanigans of the Crédit Mobilier of America, the Union Pacific’s construction company. Adams exposed numerous Congressmen, bondholder trustees, corporate directors, and construction contractors who were getting rich off a scheme concocted by Thomas “Doc” Durant, the UP’s vice president/general manager. Crédit Mobilier charged the UP more money than it cost to build the railroad, then issued construction contracts at lesser amounts allowing the stockholders to pocket the difference. Some estimates put the illicit profit at more that $50 million. Durant and Oakes Ames, a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts and a member of the board of directors of the UP, distributed stock in Crédit Mobilier to thirty Congressmen and several bureaucrats who could influence the issuance of the government bonds used to finance the railroad. The growing scandal created embarrassing moments during the Presidential election of 1872.

Not as well known until several years later, it was eventually revealed that the Central Pacific Railroad had a similar contractual scheme. Their construction firm was known as the Contract and Finance Company and was managed by Charles Crocker. The big difference between the CP’s company and the UP’s was that the stock was owned only by the Big Four founders of the Central Pacific, plus Charles Crocker’s brother E. B. Crocker, an associate justice of the California Supreme Court. The records of the Contract and Finance Company were so convoluted that no one has been able to untangle them.

[/media-credit] Drawing of snow sheds in various stages of construction.

Out on the lines, both railroads continued to build through the winter weather. The ground was so frozen they used black powder to blow it into chunks which they then used to create roadbed. In the spring thaws, the tracks sagged and slid as the ice melted, requiring reworking large segments of the tracks. Still, they were able to show they had laid many miles of track during January and were thus able to collect government bonds. The Central Pacific had the further complication of battling heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They solved that problem by erecting miles of snow sheds.

Posted in Central Pacific, Geography, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Transcontinental Railroad, Union Pacific | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the Railroad 150 Years Ago

The following was originally posted on January 9. It did not get distributed to various social media sites with which I share my posts, so I’ll try again.

In January 1869, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., grandson and great-grandson of U. S. presidents, published an article in the North American Review (the oldest literary magazine in the US) entitled “The Pacific Railroad Ring.” He was making public the financial shenanigans of the Crédit Mobilier of America, the Union Pacific’s construction company. Adams exposed numerous Congressmen, bondholder trustees, corporate directors, and construction contractors who were getting rich off a scheme concocted by Thomas “Doc” Durant, the UP’s vice president/general manager. Crédit Mobilier charged the UP more money than it cost to build the railroad, then issued construction contracts at lesser amounts allowing the stockholders to pocket the difference. Some estimates put the illicit profit at more that $50 million. Durant and Oakes Ames, a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts and a member of the board of directors of the UP, distributed stock in Crédit Mobilier to thirty Congressmen and several bureaucrats who could influence the issuance of the government bonds used to finance the railroad. The growing scandal created embarrassing moments during the Presidential election of 1872.

Not as well known until several years later, it was eventually revealed that the Central Pacific Railroad had a similar contractual scheme. Their construction firm was known as the Contract and Finance Company and was managed by Charles Crocker. The big difference between the CP’s company and the UP’s was that the stock was owned only by the Big Four founders of the Central Pacific, plus Charles Crocker’s brother E. B. Crocker, an associate justice of the California Supreme Court. The records of the Contract and Finance Company were so convoluted that no one has been able to untangle them.

[/media-credit] Drawing of snow sheds in various stages of construction.

Out on the lines, both railroads continued to build through the winter weather. The ground was so frozen they used black powder to blow it into chunks which they then used to create roadbed. In the spring thaws, the tracks sagged and slid as the ice melted, requiring reworking large segments of the tracks. Still, they were able to show they had laid many miles of track during January and were thus able to collect government bonds. The Central Pacific had the further complication of battling heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They solved that problem by erecting miles of snow sheds.

 

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On the Railroad 150 Years Ago

Both the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad hoped to beat their competitor to the opposite border of Utah from where they would enter the state in order to maximize the amount of government bonds they could claim. By the end of December 1868, the CP’s survey reached eastward across Utah all the way to the head of Echo Canyon at the Wyoming border. By year’s end, the UP had surveyed in the opposite direction as far as Humboldt Wells, Nevada, well beyond the Utah border.

Leland Stanford

Throughout December, the Central Pacific remained busy grading from Monument Point in central Utah to Ogden. Leland Stanford, CP’s president, demanded that Brigham Young get his contract graders working faster. Stanford wanted to beat the Union Pacific to Ogden, where he believed the two lines would eventually join. Stanford’s fellow “Big Four” owner thought otherwise.

Collis P. Huntington

Collis Huntington wanted to drive the CP on into Wyoming. The two men got together in late December to resolve their different objectives. Stanford traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, where he met Huntington who had come west from New York with his wife.

The Union Pacific went out of its way to provide a private car for the three passengers to make their journey west. However, the UP would not let them travel on the rails beyond Green River, Wyoming, because they did not want their competitors to see how bad the UP track work was for the next 110 miles westward.

UP Train on bridge crossing Green River in Wyoming

Stanford and the Huntingtons traveled from Green River to Salt Lake City via Wells Fargo stagecoach, where they spent Christmas in the company of Brigham Young and the saints. Then, the Huntingtons continued on stagecoach to Reno, Nevada, where they boarded a private CP car for their onward journey to Sacramento, California.

The year came to an end without a resolution on a joining place for the two railroads. In Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Three, I wrote about Jenny McNabb providing at meal for Stanford and the Huntingtons at a Wells Fargo Stage Station.

Posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Central Pacific, Eagle Talons - Book One, Geography, Golden Spike - Book Three, Stagecoaches, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Transcontinental Railroad, Union Pacific | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great South Point Book Signing

On Saturday, December 8, 2018, I had a great book signing at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. My daughter Beth, dressed as Jenny McNabb, the principal female character in The Iron Horse Chronicles fascinated all folks, especially the little ones, who passed our table. My wife, Barbara, provided cashier services and made sure the candy bucket was filled with Hershey kisses.

We all three returned to South Point the next day for dinner at Don Vito’s, one of the casino’s many outstanding restaurants. Beth and I are standing beside the Benny Binion equestrian statue which is located just to the right side of the above picture of our book signing table.

Posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Book Signing, Eagle Talons - Book One, Golden Spike - Book Three, Iron Horse Chronicles' Characters, The Iron Horse Chronicles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

South Point Book Signing Event

Saturday, December 8, 2018, I will be autographing all three volumes of The Iron Horse Chronicles at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, from noon until 4PM. This is the fourth consecutive year that South Point has hosted this most significant book signing event of the year for me. It occurs during the midst of the National Finals Rodeo. My wife, Barbara, will assist me, and our daughter Beth will come from California to help, as well. As in past years, Beth will be dressed in costume as Jenny McNabb, the principal female character in the trilogy. The good folks at South Point have produced a wonderful poster to advertise the event. If you are present, you will see the poster in prominent locations in the casino. However, since many of you will not be in Las Vegas at this time, I will share the great poster with you here.

Posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Book Signing, Eagle Talons - Book One, Golden Spike - Book Three, Iron Horse Chronicles' Characters, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SCA Winter Club Fair

On December 1, 2018, I participated in the Winter Club Fair at the Recreation Center in Sun City Anthem, Henderson, Nevada, from 9 AM until 12 PM. Ten fellow members of Anthem Authors joined to offer their books as Christmas gifts for the residents of our community. A grand time was had by all.

Next on the agenda will be the fourth annual book signing at South Point Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, mid-way through the National Finals Rodeo. My wife, Barbara, will assist me during the event. Also helping will be our daughter Beth who will fly in from California to reprise her role, in costume, as Jenny McNabb, the principal female character in The Iron Horse Chronicles. If you are in the Vegas area on Saturday, December 8, 2018, stop by South Point Casino between noon and 4 PM and say hello.

 

Posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Book Signing, Eagle Talons - Book One, Golden Spike - Book Three, Iron Horse Chronicles' Characters, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Transcontinental Railroad, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment