Referencing books, was: Disparaged Y class engines!

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Thu Jun 27 10:50:31 EDT 2013

Ken Rickman -

I see you list your area of expertise as Southern Railway Steam. Since I assume you’re not old enough to have experienced much of it in person, what do you use for your primary sources of information? Prince’s book? Ranks/Lowe? TIES Magazine? The only one of those still available are back issues of TIES, through the SRHA. I have both the books, and my own research has told me that there is a lot in Ranks/Lowe that isn’t trustworthy (and I was a friend of one of the authors)..

Just curious.

I have shelves full of rail books that I seldom consult unless I have to answer a question about some arcane point; if I can’t find the answer, I’ll leave the question to someone better informed than I am. The point is, though, that I do have these books. Anyone interested in N&W steam who doesn’t have Bud’s book is not as well-informed as he should be, or maybe that he thinks he is. My own book is different; it is more specialized and the general points are covered well in Bud’s book. Anyone genuinely interested in N&W steam should have Bud’s book. Period.


Subject: Referencing books, was: Disparaged Y class engines!

The discussion about the Y (and any other steam, for that matter) is fascinating to me, but I have to take issue with something which was said:

I suspect that the best response on the thread would have been to reference Bud Jeffries' book, N&W Giant of Steam and Ed King's book on the A.

While that book may be the best source of information, using it as a reference is only useful if

1.. Everyone involved in the discussion has the book, or
2.. Everyone involved is expected to go out and buy it.
Since neither one of those are true, especially considering that the discussion involved fans of lines other than the N&W, using it as a reference is a less than stellar idea.

I see this a lot, on various forums. Someone asks a question, and instead of getting the answer, they're told that they need to go out and buy some esoteric and expensive book. For example, I asked about a couple details of a very old C&O locomotive because one of them wound up on my favorite short line. Instead of getting an answer, several people told me that I needed to go out and spend a couple hundred dollars buying up long out of print tomes on C&O steam, all so I could get a couple paragraphs and grainy photos of the engines in question. I'm sorry, but that's neither practical nor helpful. Thankfully, someone was kind enough to actually look at their copy of one of the books mentioned and give a very simple, brief answer to my questions.

While I understand the need to respect copyrights, I think we as amateur historians need to do a better job of sharing information rather than expecting others to invest as heavily (in both time and money) as we have in our pet subjects. To that end, I always try to answer any questions about Southern Ry. steam (my field of expertise) even when I could simply point people to the various sources and let them do their own research. When someone shows more than a passing interest, THEN I suggest they look at the reference works for themselves.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. Back to talking about why the Y was better than a Big Boy, H-8, or anything else out there. :)
Ken Rickman

On 6/27/2013 8:21 AM, NW Mailing List wrote:

I suspect that the best response on the thread would have been to reference Bud Jeffries' book, N&W Giant of Steam and Ed King's book on the A.
Kenneth Rickman
Salisbury, NC
"When they call the roll in the Senate, the senators do not know whether to answer 'present' or 'not guilty.'" - Teddy Roosevelt

NW-Mailing-List at
To change your subscription go to
Browse the NW-Mailing-List archives at
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list