Author Topic: New Book, "The Franklin County Narrow Gauges- The Next Stop is Rangeley"  (Read 6393 times)

Glenn Byron

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This info is from the Friday July 11, Franklin Journal newspaper.  The author of this new book, Guy Rioux, will discuss it at a meeting of The Strong Historical Society, August 6, 2014 starting at 5pm.  The location is 79 North Main Street.  Maybe some of our members know about this book, but I did not previously.  I'm going to try to be there.  The author will sell and sign copies at 5pm, Pot Luck Supper at 6pm, Business Meeting at 7, followed immediately by the guest speaker.

Philip Marshall

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Re: New Book, "The Franklin County Narrow Gauges- The Next Stop is Rangeley"
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2015, 06:52:41 PM »
I've been reading this new book on the P&R, as well as its companion volume "The Next Stop is Phillips" on the SRRR, with great interest. Mr Rioux has managed to uncover a lot of new or previously overlooked information from newspapers (especially the Phillips Phonograph), legal records, and company documents that shed new light on the early history of the Franklin County narrow gauge railroads and the context behind the 1908 consolidation that formed the SR&RL. For example, I had no idea what a dysfunctional and poorly managed disaster the P&R was from a business point of view, complete with shady accounting, junk bonds, and massive debts and lawsuits following the death of Calvin Putnam.

What really caught my attention, however, is his chapter entitled "Bo-Peep", on the confusing history of the B&B's 'Puck' (SRRR's first No. 2) in the early years of the P&R, when the little Hinkley handled work trains and later worked as the Redington switcher (Dana Aldrich's first assignment as an engineer), first as P&R No. 2 'Izaak Walton' and then P&R No. 4 'Bo-Peep'. The engine's shifting designations seem to have been confusing even then, as he quotes several contemporary newspaper articles from the Phillips Phonograph which use its multiple names and numbers in the same sentence as if to make sure that everyone knew just which engine they were talking about, and a couple of these identify the same engine as having formerly been the SRRR's 'Butterfly'! This is a really interesting detail, because I had always thought that 'Butterfly' was the name given to the SRRR's first No. 3, the little Porter that of course became W&Q No. 1. If this is correct (and considering it comes from a period source in Phillips I think it probably is correct), then it suggests that Moody and Crittenden may have been confused about early engine names, and perhaps much else besides that. Indeed, Mr Rioux notes in "The Next Stop is Phillips" that he could find little or no evidence to support the longstanding mythology that SRRR No. 3/W&Q No. 1 was disliked by crews or was considered a "hoodoo".

That said, and I hope this doesn't sound too harsh, I think Mr Rioux should have sought the help of a professional editor before these books were taken to print. There are numerous weird typos, and I found several photos that were clearly misidentified. For example, on p. 288 of "The Next Stop is Phillips" there are two photos of SRRR 2-6-2 No. 8 (SR&RL No. 19) which he somehow identifies as 'Old Star', the Laurel River & Hot Springs 2-6-0 (SR&RL No. 16). That's the kind of mistake no serious SR&RL scholar should make. Furthermore, neither book has an index, and their organization is kind of confusing, so finding one's way through them can be a little difficult. I hope these problems can be corrected in future editions.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2015, 07:54:59 PM by Philip Marshall »