New Plaster City Narrow Gauge Railroad Book Filled with Nostalgia

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In the 1920s, Samuel Dunaway envisioned a railroad that could transport gypsum for the Imperial Gypsum and Oil Company in Southern California. Author Charles O’Herin explores that vision’s reality in the narrow gauge railroad that still runs today.

Railroad aficionados, model train enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the role of railroads in American industrialization will find nostalgia, history, and much to marvel over in Charles M. O’Herin’s “White Gold Railroad: Plaster City Narrow Gauge” (9780977627912, Link Pen Publishing, 2010).

“White Gold Railroad” is the story of a private, industrial, three-foot narrow gauge railroad that began in 1922 and continues today. The book’s title refers to the raw gypsum the railroad carried over a twenty-six mile track from the quarry to the processing plant. The book provides a thorough look into the importance of railroads to American industry as illustrated by one small railroad in Southern California.

Samuel Dunaway first envisioned the Plaster City railroad as a means to transport valuable gypsum to a processing plant. Even today, gypsum is used to make plaster and drywall, as an additive in some cement, as an agricultural soil conditioner, and in many other invaluable ways that affect our daily lives. The Plaster City railroad soon became a major player in the United States’ gypsum industry. The story of the railroad’s construction is one of difficult working conditions in California’s Imperial Valley where the heat could exceed 120 degrees and flash floods interfered with construction.

Charles O’Herin, longtime railroad enthusiast, details the story of this industrial railroad’s formation and evolving history with emphasis on its locomotives, mining, structures, and environment. From the railroad’s founding to the present day, all aspects of the railroad’s history and importance are detailed comprehensively. Included are over 285 pictures, lists, tables, graphics, and a complete bibliography.

Anyone interested in railroads will find “White Gold Railroad” the perfect read. Charles O’Herin intended to create a book that would “give railroad hobbyists, enthusiasts, and historians equal consideration of their interests” and he has succeeded. Every facet of the railroad is explored from its creators, to its technical detail, its role in industry, and how it has adapted over nearly a century while still performing the original role intended. The vintage photographs and the thorough commentary make the sounds of steam engines, train whistles, and men pounding railroad spikes come to life on the page.

About the Author
Charles O’Herin grew up in Pasco, Washington, a railroad town with five Class-1 railroads operating in or nearby that city: Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Spokane Portland & Seattle, Union Pacific, and Milwaukee Road. Today, BNSF and Union Pacific are the remaining colors operating there. Both Charles’ grandfather and father worked for railroads, and Charles’ early years were rich with the sounds from trains. Today, Charles is again drawn to railroading by playing with model trains, being a rail-fan, and writing about railroads. He is a garden railroad hobbyist, railroad enthusiast and historian, and a member of several organizations involved with model railroading or preserving railroad history and railroad artifacts.

“White Gold Railroad: Plaster City Narrow Gauge” (9780977627912, Link Pen Publishing, 2010) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Publicity contact: Review copies available upon request.


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