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On the Iron at Big Cloud

Frank L. Packard

Book Overview: 

Frank L. Packard worked as a civil engineer for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He brings this experience to the fictional Hill Division -- those those twisting, climbing, dangerous and glorious miles of track that lead from the Division Point at Big Cloud over the magnificent but treacherous Rockies to the straight and level Pacific Division. Here are fifteen stories of exciting times on the Hill Division and of the remarkable men—Regan, Carlton, Spence and all the others—whose determination, ability, even heroism, tamed the fabulous Hill Division.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .You see what happened? There wasn’t time for the freight to make Elktail, but she got within three miles of it—and that’s as far as she ever got! In a nasty piece of track, full of trestles and gorges, where the right of way bends worse than the letter S, they met, the two of them, head on—Number One and Number Eighty-Two!

And Breen didn’t know what he had done even after the details began to pour in. How could he know? What was Eighty-Two doing east of Muddy Lake? She should have been waiting there for Number One to pass her. The order book showed that plain enough. And all through the rest of that night, while he worked like a madman clearing the line, getting up hospital relief, and wrecking trains—with Carle-ton, he was super then, gray-faced and haggard, like the master of a storm-tossed liner on his bridge giving orders, pacing the room, cursi. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A nice collection of short, but connected vignettes of railroad life - the type of writing Frank Packard does well.

Loved these stories! Both this and The Night Operator are excellent short stories about the harsh living and working on the rails during a rugged, untamed time. The stories mix humor and mirth with sometimes very serious of not tragic incidents. Each character presented has their own unique story to

If you only know Frank Packard through his crime fiction, the Gray Seal series say or any of the several other books he set in the New York underworld, then this book may astound you. Before he ever became a writer Packard was a railroad worker in Canada and the first hand knowledge he acquired ther

Interesting short stories about a mountain division railroad town and its people.

Big Cloud is the headquarters town for the "Mountain Division" in the early days of western railroading. Through a series of short stories, the author introduces us to many of the individuals who built the road, ran th