The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001

Book Reviews

backbone for both the chronological and behavioral profile of the subject. The
author molds flesh for those bones with family recollections, library research,
contemporary newspaper accounts, and, particularly, references from George L.
Crocket's Two Centuries in East Texas (Dallas: Southwest Press, 1932).
The author makes clear that in cash-poor Texas before the Civil War, the own-
ership of land was the clearest hallmark of success. In spite of their nominal pro-
fession or trade, everyone engaged in land speculation. Most of the subjects of
this book spent a substantial part of their days buying, selling, claiming, trading,
and litigating real property.
Part of the charm of the text is the obvious fact that it was written with the resi-
dents of San Augustine in mind. nineteenth-century sites are always described by
what is presently or recently extant at the location. Names of nineteenth-century
townspeople are liberally salted into the book, even if their appearance adds lit-
tle to the subject matter. Surely many present-day residents will find at least fleet-
ing references to their families' antecedents through these references.
The book provides a good local-history reference for those interested in the
San Augustine area.
Austin Carter Cook
Cotton Belt Locomotives. By Joseph A. Strapac. (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1999. PP. 221. Foreword, acknowledgments. ISBN 0-253-33601-5.
$59.95, cloth.)
Katy Northwest: The Story of a Branch Line Railroad. By Donovan L. Hofsommer.
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. Pp. xi+299. Foreword, intro-
duction, endnotes, index. ISBN 0-253-33636-8. $59.95, cloth.)
With its reprinting of Cotton Belt Locomotives and Katy Northwest: The Story of a
Branch Line Railroad, the Indiana University Press has resurrected two classic
works from the 197os. Handsomely bound and packed full of photographs,
these two oversized books seem destined for the coffee table of many a railroad
enthusiast. Hungry for the images and the statistics so carefully compiled by the
authors, train and track zealots will no doubt ensure the success of this publish-
ing venture. Yet, for historians, for those individuals who are looking for more
than a chronicle of engines and cars, only one of the two works holds any appeal.
Katy Northwest: The Story of a Branch Line Railroad will win acclaim both from
historians and amateur train buffs. Well received by academicians when it was
first published in 1976 (Pruett Publishing Company), this book remains today
one of the best studies of a branch line railroad. The notes are solid, the prose is
engaging, and the analysis is multidirectional. Donovan L. Hofsommer traces
the life of the Katy Northwest from its birth in North Texas as the Wichita Falls
& Northwestern, to its acquisition by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, its
combination with the Beaver, Meade & Englewood and its christening as the
Katy Northwest, to its eventual demise and death in the 1970s.
The book recounts a story that is all too familiar to those who study railroads.
The need to transport agricultural products, in this case the wheat of North

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed July 25, 2014.