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Railway history/Bibliography

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A list of key readings about Railway history.
Please sort and annotate in a user-friendly manner. For formatting, consider using automated reference wikification.


  • Nock, O . S. ed. Encyclopedia of Railways (London, 1977), worldwide coverage, heavily illustrated


  • Acworth, Sir William Mitchell. The Railways of England (1889) 427 pp. online edition
  • Arnold, A. J. and McCartney, S. George Hudson: The Rise and Fall of the Railway King (2004). 317 pp. A study in Victorian entrepreneurship
  • Bailey, Michael R., ed. Robert Stephenson: The Eminent Engineer. (2003). 401 pp.
  • Carter, Ian. Railways and Culture in Britain: The Epitome of Modernity. (2001). 338 pp.
  • Clapham, J. H. An Economic History of Modern Britain: The Early Railway Age, 1820-1850 (1926) online edition
  • Ellis, Hamilton. British Railway History: An Outline from the Accession of William IV to the Nationalization of Railways, 1877-1947 1959 online edition
  • Francis, John. A history of the English railway: Its social relations & revelations 1820-1845 (1851), 2 vol online edition
  • Gourvish, Terri, ed. Railways volume 1; volume 2, edited by Geoffrey Channon. (Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing Company and the Scholar Press, 1996. Pp. xviii, 174; xxi, 187. Articles from Journal of Transport History
  • Kostal, R. W. Law and English Railway Capitalism, 1825-1875, (1994)
  • Simmons, Jack and Gordon Biddle, (eds). The Oxford Companion to British Railway History: From 1603 to the 1990s (2nd ed 1999)
  • Skelton, Oscar D. The Railway Builders (1916)

British Empire

  • Bladen, M. L. "Construction of Railways in Canada to the Year 1885," Contributions to Canadian Economics Vol. 5 (1932), pp. 43-60; in JSTOR
  • Bladen, M. L. "Construction of Railways in Canada Part II: From 1885 to 1931," Contributions to Canadian Economics Vol. 7 (1934), pp. 61-107; in JSTOR
  • Christensen, R. O. "The State and Indian Railway Performance, 1870-1920" in Terri Gourvish, ed. Railways vol 1 (1996)
  • Currie, A. W. The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada (1957).
  • den Otter, A.A. The Philosophy of Railways: The Transcontinental Railway Idea in British North America. University of Toronto Press, 1997.
  • Sir Sandford Fleming, Canada Dept. of Railways and Canals. Report and Documents in Reference to the Canadian Pacific Railway (1880) 373 pages of primary sources; online at
  • Huddleston, George. History of the East Indian Railway (1906) 281 pages; online at Google
  • Innis, Harold A. A history of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1923)


  • Fremdling, Rainer. "Railways and German Economic Growth: A Leading Sector Analysis with a Comparison to the United States and Great Britain," The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 37, No. 3. (Sep., 1977), pp. 583-604.
  • Heywood, Anthony. Modernising Lenin's Russia: Economic Reconstruction, Foreign Trade and the Railways Cambridge University Press, 1999 online edition
  • O’Brien, Patrick. Railways and the Economic Development of Western Europe, 1830-1914 (1983)

United States

  • Middleton, William D. ed. Encyclopedia of North American Railroads (2007) Indiana U. Press: 1200 pp; the most valuable reference book; 500+ entries by experts, with bibliographies
  • Chandler, Alfred, ed. The Railroads: The Nation's First Big Business - Sources and Readings. (1965)
  • Chandler, Alfred. The Visible Hand--The Managerial Revolution in American Business. (1977) highhly influential study of railway management
  • Clarke, Thomas Curtis. The American Railway: Its Construction, Development, Management, and Appliances (1889) 456 pages online edition
  • Davis, John Patterson. Union Pacific Railway: A Study in Railway Politics, History, and Economics (1894) 247 pages online at Google
  • Deverell, William. Railroad Crossing: Californians and the Railroad, 1850-1910, (1994) complete text online free inside Californai
  • Dozier, Howard Douglas. A History of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (1920) 197 pages online at Google
  • Fish, Carl Russell. "The Northern Railroads, April, 1861," The American Historical Review Vol. 22, No. 4 (Jul., 1917), pp. 778-793 in JSTOR
  • Jenks, Leland H. "Railroads as an Economic Force in American Development," The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 4, No. 1 (May, 1944), 1-20. in JSTOR
  • Johnson, Emory Richard. American Railway Transportation (1908) 434 pp; online edition
  • Kirkland, Edward Chase. Men, Cities and Transportation, A Study of New England History 1820-1900 2 vol (1948)
  • Klein, Maury. Unfinished Business: The Railroad in American Life (1997)
  • Klein, Maury. The Life and Legend of Jay Gould (1997) excerpt online at
  • Klein, Maury. The Life & Legend of E. H. Harriman (2000) online edition
  • Martin, Albro. James J. Hill and the Opening of the Northwest (1990)
  • Martin, Albro. Railroads Triumphant: The Growth, Rejection, and Rebirth of a Vital American Force (1992)
  • Moody, John. The Railroad Builders: A Chronicle of the Welding of the States 1919 online at Project Gutenberg
  • Nice, David C. Amtrak: The History and Politics of a National Railroad (1998) online edition
  • Raper, Charles Lee. and Arthur Twining Hadley. Railway Transportation: A History of Its Economics and of Its Relation to the State, (1912) 331 pages; online at Google
  • Riegel, Robert Edgar. The Story of the Western Railroads 1926 onine edition
  • Stover, John. The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American Railroads (2001)
  • Stover, John. American Railways (2nd ed 1997) good, brief overview; excerpt online at
  • Stover, John. History of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (1987; 2nd ed 1999)
  • Stover, John. History of the Illinois Central Railroad (1975)
  • Stover, John. Iron Road to the West: American Railroads in the 1850's (1978)
  • Stover, John. The Railroads of the South 1865-1900 A Study in Finance and Control (1955)