“There was no railroad there now, but someday the long steel tracks would lie level on the fills and through the cuts, and trains would come roaring, steaming and smoking with speed. The tracks and the trains were not there now, but Laura could see them almost as if they were there.” By the Shores of Silver Lake
I am so excited to share today’s post with everyone. This week I’ve had the good fortune of corresponding with Joe Piersen–author, railroad enthusiast and Archive Chairman for the Chicago and Northwestern Historical Society. Since the railroad plays such a prominent part in “By the Shores of Silver Lake,” I couldn’t wait to pick Joe’s brain about the making of the railroads, and he was kind enough to send me photographs. He is a retired school teacher who loves to watch and photograph trains. Many of his photographs have been published, and he’s authored many railroad-related books…some inexpensive reproduction books with data, and some full-color, hard-bound histories.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview, Joe!
Marie: Which railroad would have been building in DeSmet at the time of the Ingalls’ family?
Joe: The Dakota Central RR (a predecessor to the C&NW take-over) built through that area 1879 – 1880.
M: What was the housing for the men in the camps like?
Joe: In general the men who worked on the building of the track were on the move and lived in box cars that had been converted with bunks, plus one with a kitchen. The ones who worked closer to home belonged to a Section Gang and stayed within a few days of the Section Houses. Continue Reading »