As America, carried along by the expanding rail system, moved westward in the nineteenth century, few occupations seemed more exciting or romantic than that of railroad engineer. And in the mountains and plains of the West, long hours, backbreaking labor, bitter temperatures, and faulty brakes were the crucible in which the best of the early railroaders were formed: only the most dedicated and skilled men passed the tests the narrow-gauge lines of Colorado meted out.
Goin' Railroading is the story of two generations of such men, four members of the Speas family who, from the open cabs of narrow-gauge steam engines, watched Colorado grow.
Sam Speas tells the story of his father, Sam Speas Sr., who left Missouri in 1883 to become an engineer in Colorado, and recounts his own experiences and those of his brothers and fellow railroaders on the Colorado and Southern Railway, from the golden era of the narrow-gauge lines in South Park to the final days of steam power on the Front Range and the coming of the diesel engine.
His stories are a profound document of a vanished way of life, a testament to the courage and tenacity of the early citizens of Colorado, and a tribute to the rough-hewn, often gallant men who took the trains through incredible, almost unbelievable, hazards. Funny, tragic, bittersweet, and poignant, Goin' Railroading is a remarkable book that brings a portion of the history and people of an earlier Colorado to vibrant life.