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It is hardly necessary to call attention to the scarcity of American literature on buildings and similar structures connected with the station service, maintenance of way and operating departments of railroads. With the exception of isolated articles to be found in technical periodicals or in the publications of professional societies, accurate and exhaustive data relating to existing railroad structures can only be obtained by personal inspection or by addressing the proper department official in charge of the work in question. The purpose of this book is to obviate to a large extent the necessity of railroad men and others in search of such information having to resort to tedious investigations and personal inquiries. Attention is also called to the fact that most of the subjects embraced in this book have never before been discussed in print in a systematic and thorough manner.
The aim of the author has been to present a collection embodying the best practice for each particular class of structure, whether cheap or expensive, and showing the sundry variations caused by individual views or local conditions in different sections of the country. Particular attention has been paid to the smaller buildings connected with the roadway and operating departments. The cheap and simple structures in use in the thinly settled sections of the country have been considered of as much importance as those of the most elaborate and artistic design.
Each subject is discussed in a general manner at the beginning of the corresponding chapter, so that inexperienced persons can gain information on the salient points and controlling features for each class of structures, while others more conversant with the subject will find these general discussions convenient for reference. The second part of each chapter is devoted to detail descriptions and illustrations of structures in use on American railroads.
The extensive territory covered is shown by the fact that over five hundred different buildings and structures are described, illustrated, or referred to, while there are nearly seven hundred illustrations accompanying the text, of which over six hundred have been specially prepared for this work.