Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Akron Railroads (2007)

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Summary: The self-described rubber capital of the world, Akron, Ohio, was the home of numerous rubber factories that made tires for America’s burgeoning auto industry. Many of the raw materials needed to create rubber arrived by rail, and the finished products moved to market in freight cars. The city’s major railroads included the Baltimore & Ohio, Pennsylvania and Erie railroads, but three regional carriers, the Akron, Canton & Youngstown, the Wheeling & Lake Erie, and the Akron & Barberton Belt, also served Akron area industries. Written in cooperation with the Akron Railroad Club, this book chronicles the ever-changing Akron railroad scene since the club’s founding in 1936. There are more than 200 photographs presented in the 128 pages. Although most of the images were recorded from the late 1940s to the present, there are some images from the 19th century and early 20th century. This includes a chapter devoted to trolley and interurban railway operations.

Published by: Arcadia Publishing (2007)

Chapter Titles: (1) Early Days and Railroad Facilities; (2) Baltimore and Ohio; (3) Erie; (4) Pennsylvania; (5) Akron, Canton and Youngstown; (6) Wheeling and Lake Erie; (7) Akron and Barberton Belt; (8) Other Railroad Operations; (9) Streetcar and Interurban Railways; (10) Akron Railroad Club.

Photographs by: Richard Antibus, John Beach, Peter Bowler, Dennis Bydash, Roger Durfee, Ben Eubank,  Bob Farkas, Joe Farkas, Glenn Grabill, Richard Jacobs, William Kuethe Sr., Robert MacCallum, Bob Redmond, Edward Ribinskas, Robert Rohal, John Schon, H. Vaughn Smith, James Spangler, Marty Surdyk, John Wunderle.

Backstory: In late 2005, my wife, Mary Ann Whitley, wrote to Arcadia Publishing to pitch a book idea regarding the Ohio passengers aboard the Titanic. She and a friend had been working on this project off and on for several years and were looking for a publisher.

Arcadia wasn’t interested in their proposal, but they sent Mary Ann some materials about their book acquisition procedures including a list of their Ohio titles.

Out of curiosity, I was looking over this material when I noticed that one of the titles involved the history of a car club. That gave me an idea. The Akron Railroad Club, of which I was president, was celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2006. Why not create a book on the club?

I recognized almost immediately that that idea wouldn’t fly. It might be difficult to round up the approximately 200 photographs needed for an Arcadia book. Who beyond our 100 or so club members would be interested in buying a book about a railroad club? Not too many.

However, Arcadia did have a line of books under the Images of Rail moniker. There would be a nice market for a book about the railroads that served Akron. I could insert a chapter about the Akron Railroad Club. I e-mailed the editor who oversaw the Ohio titles. Yes, Arcadia would be interested in a book about the railroads of Akron. By early spring I had a contract.

I appealed to members of the Akron Railroad Club for photographs. The response was positive, although it took awhile to gather all of the images that I needed. Every time I’d shake the tree, so to speak, by making an appeal for images, a couple of other guys would step forward with photographs.

One of those times was at our July picnic. Two of our members loaned me a couple dozen photographs for possible use in the book. This was quite unexpected and very much appreciated.

There were still some members who had been around in the club’s early years and I visited them in their homes to look at their materials. Doing this book gave me an opportunity to get to know our members. At the time I had been a club member less than two years. Getting to know these guys was a nice byproduct of this project.

The book was released in mid-January 2007. Many club members bought a copy and asked me to sign it. I’ve probably heard more about this book than any other that I’ve written.


Written by csanders429

March 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm

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