The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Book Reviews

Atlantic Coast Line Razlroad. By Richard E. Prince. (Bloomington: Indiana Univer-
sity Press, 2000. Pp. 232. Acknowledgments, photographs. ISBN 0-253-33694-
5. $49.95, cloth.)
Seaboard Airline Razlway: Steam Boats, Locomotives, and History. By Richard E.
Prince. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. Pp. 272. Photographs.
ISBN 0-253-33695-3. $49.95, cloth.)
More than thirty years have passed since Richard E. Prince penned Seaboard Air
Lne Railway and Atlantic Coast Lane Railroad. The two works are part of a nine-vol-
ume series that Prince produced. When first released in the mid-196os, the books
thrilled railroad buffs. Decades later, in response to the continuing popular fasci-
nation with tracks and trains, Indiana University Press has reissued the two works.
Prince named his two volumes, Seaboard Air Line Railway and Atlantic Coast Line
Railroad, after the rail systems that he examined. The story of the Seaboard Air
Line Railway is one of recurring financial crises. When compared to the rail lines
that flanked it-J. P. Morgan's Southern Railway System and Henry Walter's At-
lantic Coast Line Railroad-the Seaboard Air Line Railway appeared badly led
and undercapitalized. The company grew slowly, and only rarely did it turn a
large profit. Still, the Seaboard Air Line Railway demonstrated a talent for sur-
vival. The company boasted subsidiaries that had been in existence since the
183os and its leadership claimed some measure of success until 1967, when the
line's fiscal weakness forced it to merge with another railway.
The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, the rail system with which the Seaboard Air
Line merged in 1967, showed substantial growth throughout much of the twen-
tieth century. A strong railway that seemed to become stronger with each pass-
ing year, the Atlantic Coast Line absorbed so many other railways that it came to
dominate the states of the old Confederacy. Indeed, in 1926 Atlantic Coast Line
leaders declared their enterprise "The Standard Railroad of the South." The
company gained momentum in the years that followed. By 1960 it controlled
more than 12,00o miles of track.
Since the stories of these two rail enterprises complement each other and are
closely intertwined, their histories could generate much discussion. Unfortu-
nately, both of Prince's works are short on text and short on analysis. Combined,
the two books total some five hundred pages, but less than one-third of that
space is devoted to text. The hundreds of photographs, schematics, and rosters
will delight the amateur and the enthusiast, yet there is little present to warrant
the attention of a professional historian.
Richard Prince's earned degree is in the field of mechanical engineering. Mr.
Prince spent many years in railroad-related jobs. He has accumulated a wealth of
experience in the railway industry, and he has compiled and catalogued a mis-
cellany of facts. Still, Mr. Prince does not possess a degree that would require
him to learn and employ historical methodology and criticism. One should look
at Atlantic Coast Lane Razlroad and Seaboard Air Line Railway, for the pictures and
the data are entertaining, but one should not expect to find a scholarly analysis
of the two rail systems' histories.

2003

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Lubbock Christian University

KREGG M. FEHR

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed August 23, 2014.