From the River to the Sea: The Untold Story of the Railroad War that Made the West

A little-known tale of an Old West rivalry comes to life in From the River to the Sea: The Untold Story of the Railroad War that Made the West by historian John Sedgwick (Blood Moon). Despite the joining of the East and West by the completion of the first U.S. transcontinental railroad in 1869, the interior of the young nation was still considered wild, raw and largely unpopulated. Two ambitious railroad men--General William Jackson Palmer, founder and owner of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, and William Barstow Strong, general manager of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad--both dreamed of running their own tracks from Colorado to the Pacific, bringing trade, wealth and workers in their wake. The stage was set early for a clash as Palmer and Strong pitted their reputations against each other in a frenzy of tracklaying that ultimately helped build and sustain numerous towns along the way (Denver, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and San Diego, to name a few).

As he analyzes the impact of railroad funding, federal land grants and price wars resulting in cheap tickets, Sedgwick persuasively argues that this epic rivalry between the Rio Grande and Santa Fe railroads was essential to "making" the West, with special significance for the sleepy coastal hamlet of Los Angeles. Throughout From the River to the Sea, Sedgwick skillfully stage-manages a lively cast of characters, all touched by this epochal railroad war and its long-lasting implications for the American West. --Peggy Kurkowski, book reviewer and copywriter in Denver

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