OTIS A. SINGLETARY, Editor
Then Came the Railroads: The Century from Steam to Diesel in
the Southwest. By Ira G. Clark. Norman (University of Okla-
homa Press), 1958. Pp. xv+.336. Illustrations, maps, index.
Despite the fact that the subtitle promises more than it delivers,
Then Came the Railroads is a solid piece of scholarship that in
somewhat pedestrian fashion ties together many strings of South-
western railroading heretofore left flying independently like so
many Irish pennants. Professor Clark has shown the good judg-
ment to avoid the more glamorous stories of railroad construc-
tion and finance, both of which have engaged the attentions of
too many competent historians who could have been following
other more productive researches, and instead tries to limn the
effects of the coming of the railroads on the area roughly between
the Mississippi River and the western border of Texas, and the
Gulf and Missouri and Kansas on the north.
Particularly interesting are the sections on town building and
on agricultural development. In these days when Texas is con-
cerned with whether it should use public moneys to advertise,
one can wish for the days when the railroads prevented such an
issue from arising. They did advertise Texas and they also adver-
tised towns, both in and out of Texas. They acted as informal
experiment stations, learning what would grow and then selling
a timid but receptive public on the idea that its future lay in
following the railroads to the newest end of the line.
And even though railroad building has largely been discon-
tinued since World War I, railroads have continued to advertise
and develop towns and regions. One need look no further than
Shreveport, Oklahoma City, Houston, or Fort Worth and Dallas
for examples. In Fort Worth the Cotton Belt, Frisco, Rock Island,
and Katy roads have been developing huge industrial sites in the
past few years. At least three of the major industrial regions in
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/. Accessed March 9, 2014.