Model 1860s Locomotive Project

My daughter Beth gave me a wooden model 1860s locomotive kit for Christmas this year. I haven’t built a model since I was a teenager–back in the early 1950s. The instructions are divided into eighteen steps. Here I am working on step five. Some of the pieces are so tiny I have to handle them with tweezers. It takes me about an hour to complete a step. In the beginning, the pieces fell apart about as fast as I put them together. I’m getting the hang of it now. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Check back in a couple of weeks, and hopefully I can display the completed project.

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Where Were You on Nine-Eleven?

I flew to Kuwait City on September 10, 2001, and checked into the Sheraton Kuwait Hotel. Our joint venture, Combat Support Associates, had successfully completed the first of a five-year contract to maintain the Army’s tanks and weapons systems staged at Camp Doha, Kuwait. We employed a couple thousand Indian and Filipino mechanics and technicians, supervised by a few hundred Americans and Brits. The board members, of which I was the chairman, had come to Kuwait to celebrate with our employees.

Before traveling to the worksite on the morning of September 11, I met with the hotel’s catering manager to confirm our plans for a banquet to be held the next evening, September 12. We had reserved the hotel’s grand ballroom for the board of directors to present achievement awards to dozens of well-deserving managers and employees.

The government of Kuwait leased Camp Doha, a former duty-free warehouse complex, to the United States Army for use as a maintenance facility. In less than two years, an American armored division would take the tanks from Camp Doha and storm across the nearby border into Iraq to commence the Second Gulf War.

After paying a courtesy call on Camp Doha’s commander, an Army colonel, the board members toured the numerous maintenance shops. It was mid-afternoon before our meeting commenced. As a result of the late start, the meeting dragged on into the early evening. Sandwiches were brought in, and the board members and supporting staff adjourned to a break area where a television was running in the background. International businessmen relied on CNN while traveling to stay informed about world-wide developments. While we enjoyed our catered meal, we turned the volume up on CNN’s news coverage.

We paid little attention to the the TV until a Breaking News announcement flashed across the screen at 7:00 PM Kuwait time. We watched the replay of an airplane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers. It had occurred a few minutes earlier at 8:46 AM New York time. I reminded the other board members that a WWII bomber had crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945, and the world’s tallest building at that time was repaired and never exhibited any long-term ill effects. We agreed we had witnessed a terrible accident and expressed sorrow for those who would have died.

A few moments later, at 7:03 PM Kuwait time, we watched in horror as a second airplane crashed into the second tower. A stillness settled over the room as it became apparent we were not witnessing an accident. We did not reconvene our meeting, We concentrated on following the developing crises as a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, another plane went down in a field in Pennsylvania, and the towers collapsed in New York.

I telephoned the Sheraton Hotel and canceled our celebration banquet.

The next morning, the Kuwait Arab Times, was delivered to my hotel room. I never opened the newspaper, but wrapped it in plastic (which accounts for the photo’s wrinkled appearance). The newspaper is complete, containing all its advertising inserts.


Posted in Army, Geography, The Iron Horse Chronicles | 2 Comments

Annual South Point Book Signing in Jeopardy

My wife, Barbara, wearing a face shield, is discussing a dilemma with Benny Binion and his horse in the hallway leading to the event arena at South Point Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. I took this picture on August 31, 2020, from the position where my book signing table usually stands during the annual National Finals Rodeo each December.

Recent articles in the Las Vegas Review Journal reveal concerns about whether the great rodeo event will be held this year because of the Corona virus pandemic. If such happens, it may create a gap in what so-far has been a five-year run of fantastic book signings for readers of my trilogy, The Iron Horse Chronicles.

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Stirrup Award Finalist

My article “Races Within a Race: The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad” that appeared in the April 2019 issue of Roundup Magazine has been selected, by the membership of Western Writers of America, as a finalist for the Stirrup Award as one of the best articles published in the magazine in 2019.

A certificate documenting the award will be presented by Johnny D. Boggs, Editor, Roundup Magazine, during the 2020 Western Writers of America Convention in Rapid City, South Dakota, scheduled for June 17-20, 2020. Hopefully, the present problems created by the Corona virus will not disrupt this planned, annual event.

I wrote about the Roundup article in a blog posted to this website on April 10, 2019. In that blog there is a link that allows you to read the article online. Go to the sidebar of this website and select April 2019 from the drop-down list that appears under Archives.

My congratulations to Michael F. Blake, who won the Stirrup Award this year, and to David Morrell, fellow finalist.

Posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Book Awards, Central Pacific, Eagle Talons - Book One, Golden Spike - Book Three, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Transcontinental Railroad, Union Pacific, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

One-Eyed Jacks

Quite by chance, while surfing the television channels last evening, I caught the start of the movie One-Eyed Jacks. I had never seen this 1961 film starring and directed by Marlon Brando until last night, but I feel a personal connection with the film. The movie received mixed reviews even though it was nominated for an Oscar for best cinematography. When the movie was released, I was stationed with the Army in France. The Army and Air Force Motion Picture Service brought movies to Europe for the service men and women, but I do not recall this being one. Charles Neider was the author of the novel, The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones, on which the movie script, One-Eyed Jacks, was based. Neider is named in the movie’s credits as one of the screenwriters.

I met Charlie in January 1977 when he was in Antarctica on a grant from the National Science Foundation to write a book about the frozen continent. That book, Beyond Cape Horn—Travels in the Antarctic, was published by Sierra Club Books in 1980. Charlie mentions me in the book when he describes our travels together from McMurdo Station to Palmer Station on board the USCGC Burton Island. I parted company with Charles when I departed Palmer Station onboard the RV Hero for my first journey across the Drake Passage. We never met again.

Robert Murphy onboard Burton Island. Photo by Charles Neider.

Neider was born in Russia in 1915 and died at Princeton, New Jersey, in 2001. He was a noted Mark Twain scholar as well as being the author of several books on Antarctica.

Charles Neider onboard Burton Island. Photo by Robert Murphy

RV Hero and USCGC Burton Island in Arthur Harbor, Palmer Station, Antarctica, 1977.

Posted in Geography, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Facebook Connection Problem

Facebook has not been posting my blog to my Facebook Page recently. This is a post directed specifically to Facebook.

Check out my new trade paperback versions of The Iron Horse Chronicles.

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New Kindle Versions of The Iron Horse Chronicles

Recently I had to replace the Kindle versions of all three volumes of The Iron Horse Chronicles. If you purchased a Kindle version created by Five Star Publishing, they appear to still work fine. You can access the new versions by clicking on Robert Lee Murphy at Amazon in the sidebar of this website. Here is the cover for Eagle Talons: Book One.

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Trade Paperbacks Available

Five Star Publishing, who originally published The Iron Horse Chronicles trilogy, recently reverted the rights for eBooks and Trade Paperbacks to me. There were pluses and minuses to that. The minus was that Five Star took down their Kindle versions of my books. I have now successfully restored Kindle versions using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

The plus, and it is a big plus, is that I can now offer Trade Paperback versions of all three books in The Iron Horse Chronicles. I have produced these books using Amazon’s KDP. You can find the books instantly by clicking on “Robert Lee Murphy at Amazon” under “Favorite Websites” in the sidebar of this website.

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

Henderson Libraries 2020 Local Author Showcase

On March 28, 2020, I will be participating in the 7th Annual Local Author Showcase at the Paseo Verde Library, 280 S. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson, Nevada. This is the fourth year I have been invited to offer my books for sale and autograph to the patrons of the Henderson Libraries.

The event is divided into two sessions in order to accommodate the sixty local authors who will be featured. The first session is from 10 to 11:30 AM. The second session is from 1 to 2:30 PM. I will be in the morning session. This website provides more information about which authors will participate in which session:

This year I will again autograph all three books in The Iron Horse Chronicles trilogy. I will, of course, have the original hardcover books produced by Five Star Publishing. But for the first time, I will also have trade paperback books  produced using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program.

If you are in the Las Vegas/Henderson area on March 28, stop by and say hello to the wonderful array of local authors.

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

Tonya Todd was Guest Speaker at Anthem Authors

On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Tonya Todd, the Henderson Writers Group’s Education Chair, gave a special presentation to members of Anthem Authors about the benefits of attending the annual Las Vegas Writers’ Conference. As the current President of Anthem Authors, it was my pleasure to host her at a luncheon and to introduce her to our writers’ group in Sun City Anthem, Henderson, Nevada.


Posted in Book Review, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Writing | Tagged | 2 Comments