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Trains to Yosemite

by Jack A. Burgess

YV jacket

Among the best-known of California's many short lines was the Yosemite Valley Railroad. Though several publications have explored aspects of this line, a comprehensive and profusely illustrated book has long been needed. Renowned author and modeler Jack Burgess has now filled this void.

In 1907, the completion of the Yosemite Valley Railroad revolutionized travel to Yosemite: the world-famous park could suddenly be reached in less than a day. Within a few short years, it was even possible for the long-distance traveler to reach the Park without leaving the comfort of a Pullman sleeper. The number of visitors to the Park continued to increase annually in these early years and the railroad advertised heavily to promote tourism even more to the unrivaled Valley.

The YV ran from Merced to El Portal at the entrance to Yosemite National Park, much of the route following the Merced River. Though passenger traffic to the Park was important, lumber mills and other industries along the line were major sources of business. The passenger and freight operations are all included in this book, along with numerous photos illustrating the on-line industries.

The fascinating story of this unique railroad is told by Yosemite Valley Railroad expert Jack Burgess and illustrated through more than 400 photos (including 43 color photos, some of them color slides taken by Al Rose before abandonment of the YV in 1945), 19 maps, and 26 scale drawings. Complete equipment rosters together with numerous timetables, postcards, tickets, and other memorabilia help provide additional insight into the railroad. The narrative is further highlighted with over two dozen anecdotes from railroaders who worked on the railroad over the years. The result is a highly informational and readable history of this wonderful railroad which, for 40 years, transported wide-eyed tourists to Yosemite.

Anyone interested in the YV or California railroads will be particularly enthralled by this book, but its rich railroad flavor and insights into operations and life along the line will fascinate many with more general interests.

Also available: a full review of this book as well as the Table of Contents of the book.

Particulars: Trains to Yosemite, by Jack A. Burgess
Price: $65     Size: 372 pages, 8.5" x 11"; 400 photos; 45 maps and drawings, rosters, bibliography, index
ISBN: 1-930013-14-0     Publication date: December 21, 2004
Distribution: Western Star Distributors, Lompoc, CA; or direct from publisher.