The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965 Page: 293
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hend. One of the things which tends to make it so is the nature
of the subject. To some, running a railroad is a matter of dollars
and cents, so that is what they present-statistics in large quan-
tities. Often historians have recorded how some tycoon promoted
a grand scheme and made a fortune, or how a company could
not meet its bills and was placed in receivership. These details
are important in the history of United States transportation, but
they do not generally make for fascinating reading. Joseph Noble
skips the statistics and many of the details in telling the story of
his life with the Santa Fe Railway. The tale is a credit to both
the employee and the employer.
Noble was a railroader. Fifty years-a full half century-with
the Santa Fe made him one, so it is only natural that he wrote
in the railroad jargon. Most of his time was spent in Colorado,
Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. He served his company
primarily in engineering capacities. He knew what it was to labor
with a surveying crew on the desert, living in a tent, and work-
ing from sun up to sundown. He did not mind though, for there
was no place to go. If he had been near a resort, he wrote, it
would have been different. Having an interest in engineering,
Noble came naturally to have knowledge of track bed. He records
with ample detail for the amateur how track is laid, how the ties
get scarred or decayed, how the track bed can sink in wet weather
if it is overloaded, and how bridges get washed out and have to
be replaced. He tells plainly how a railroad man goes to work
in all kinds of weather, overcoming all necessary obstacles to see
that the trains run on time. In a way, he is quite noble about
the telling of it. Toward the end of his career, Noble was placed
more and more in managerial positions, so when he retired in
1958 he was chief engineer of the Western Lines. After reading
the story, one has no doubt that his promotions were deserved.
Writing from the inside of the organization, Noble shows the
hierarchy within the Santa Fe system. As one reads the work he
comes to realize that the operating vice president, the assistant
general managers, the road engineers, the train crews, and the
track gangs all worked together to form a team which made the
iron horse go over the rails. Everyone from top to bottom was
held in respect by the writer. He also related the railroad's posi-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965, periodical, 1965; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101198/m1/335/: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.