• Railway Paradise: How a Fine-Dining Empire Made the Southwest Palatable to Outsiders Near a dusty stretch of train track on the outskirts of Barstow, California, the imposing Casa del Desierto—or House of the Desert—stands silent, its arched colonnade emptied of the railroad passengers, restaurant diners, and overnight guests who once visited its elegant hotel. The forlorn red-brick façade no longer greets crowds of visitors headed west to the California coast or east to the Color…
  • How Railroad Tourism Created the Craze for Traditional Native American Baskets During the 1890s, U.S. railroads brought the first waves of tourists West, spawning a market for souvenirs of the new frontier such as Native American baskets. For the next several decades, the artistry of Native American basketry was at its peak, while the popularity of the art form was unprecedented, derailed only by the Great Depression. Now, a new book by John Kania and Alan Blaugrund titled “…
  • Don't Call Them Bums: The Unsung History of America's Hard-Working Hoboes Despite the ever-widening wealth gap, most of us continue to grasp at the American Dream, which promises financial security in exchange for hard work. In fact, for many workers in today's economy, attaining middle-class status is exactly that—a dream—while digital technologies have pushed enormous numbers of steady-paycheck employees into the unpredictable “gig economy,” where contracts are the no…
  • An Overview of Railroadiana Collecting Many people are fascinated by railroads. At one time, railroads were connected to most aspects of community and economic life, and almost everyone had the experience of taking the train to some distant destination. Today, railroads are still a vital part of the nation's commerce, but they have largely evolved into less publicly visible movers of freight. For the most part, the romance and glory of…
  • Railroadiana Collectors Preserve the Days of Train Travel My husband Bill always loved trains and my grandfather had been an executive with the Denver and Rio Grande here. We opened up a little store in Georgetown, Colorado and sold railroad stuff. The Georgetown Loop Train was in that area, so we thought it might be a good spot. A gentleman walked in the store one day and wanted us to sell his memorabilia for him, and that’s what propelled us into the b…
  • Collecting Iron Horses In the final analysis, collecting of old locomotives is not essentially different from the collecting of early carriages, clocks, pewter cups, or Sheffield knives. The items are considerably larger and much clumsier to handle, but they are hardly less interesting. For a great many years the early locomotive was a sadly neglected bit of Americana. Most of these antiques were measured chiefly…