Sunset Limited: The Southern Pacific Railroad and the Development of the American West, 1850-1930
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Sunset Limited: The Southern Pacific Railroad and the Development of the American West, 1850-1930

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  21 ratings  ·  5 reviews
The only major U.S. railroad to be operated by westerners and the only railroad built from west to east, the Southern Pacific acquired a unique history and character. It also acquired a reputation, especially in California, as a railroad that people loved to hate. This magisterial history tells the full story of the Southern Pacific for the first time, shattering myths abo...more
Hardcover, 637 pages
Published May 16th 2005 by University of California Press
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Frank Stein
An impressive though certainly overly comprehensive rejoinder to the typical progressive, railroad-bashing tomes that litter modern history libraries.

Unlike most historians, Orsi is a rabid railfan, thoroughly enamored of the majesty and accomplishments of the 19th century railroads, and he brings his enthusiasm for rails and California history to this presentation of the Southern Pacific Railroad during its glory days, when this now forgotten company was the largest transportation concern on th...more
Liam
"The railroad's founders and most of its later top executives and, importantly, its middle-level managers were Californians, often long-time residents. With remarkable tenure in their positions, these men identified their company's interests with those of their home state, its economic, social, and cultural development, and secondarily with the larger West." (21)

"[T]he railway developed a land-management and sales program aimed primarily at building traffic for its lines, and from the start adop...more
Cat
This actually could have been a three star review, but I have to give credit to the thuroughness of the scholarship, the excellent photographs and the superb 200+ end notes, which are a mini-book in themselves.

Orsi's book is "revisionist" if it is proper to call a thesis that glorifies a massive American corporation "revisionist". I suppose that it qualifies if one is taking the scholarship of major American and French universities from the sixties onward as the standard.

Simply put, Orsi's goa...more
Mike
The Southern Pacific was one of the best of the Guilded Age railroads and it pioneered many aspects of modern American business. It spanned from the Gulf of Mexico in Texas across New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Nevada, and Utah. Sadly this book is California-centric with no concentration on operations in other states. It didn't even mention the regularity of train robbings east of Tucson and how the railroad dealt with it. Sections dealing with the Salton Sea and Pacific Fruit Express...more
Jerry
This is Southern Pacific's side of the railroad's development. Portrays Theodore Judah as being a poor manager (still, he was a guide surveyor and political promoter)
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