Friday, January 10, 2014

BOOK REVIEW - Steel Mill Railroads Volume 6

To sum it up - a disappointment.  It looks like the Steel Mill Railroads series has finally "jumped the shark".    The most interesting photo in the book- your looking at it on the front cover.     My problem with this volume is that it isn't about steel mill railroads, as the title professes, but rather, steel mill ENGINES.   Don't get me wrong, I love Baldwin locomotives, which apparently so did southern steel mill operators, however, after 20 or 30 it starts to get boring.  The vast majority of the photos in this book are your Extra 2200 South type locomotive photos.    If you like that sort of thing - the ex Penn Central 1234, ex PLE 5432,..etc..  I guess you might like this, but otherwise don't waste your $55.    There were a number of shots that looked promising - if the photographer or editor had zoomed back from the locomotive a bit so I could actually see more than a small section of the mill in the background.   Much of the text of the captions relates to previous owners of the locomotive, lots about the paint schemes,  spark arrestors on locomotives, re-engineening Baldwin primer movers with EMD,...etc...   boring to me.     There were no maps, and I gained virtually no knowledge about southern steel mill locations, facilities, or operations of any sort.    Some of the very few interesting things - the cover photo, a close up of the air compressor car in the cover photo,  and a caboose from I think, USPipe.  There was a shot of a train of interesting ore jennies, hauling "Venezuelan iron ore" on the "high line" to an ore conditioning plant, but from where?, and what and where did the highline run?.....etc..     One of the few mill shots, was a 1950's vintage "commercial photo" that apparently was sold locally in Alabama or done as a promotional thing - night shot, poor resolution, oh, but if you look real close you can see the ass end of a Porter saddle tank in the open hearth.      My opinion is if there are to be more of these geographic themed volumes, a good template  to follow, would be the Morning Sun Union Railroad Book.  Most of the shots were of entire trains, with the mills visible in the background, so you knew where the trains were going or coming from and had some reference with the mills they served.    There were also maps and amble text describing the operation of the RAILROAD.     Otherwise, change the title to Steel Mill Locomotives of the South or something along those lines.    Of course, since Morning Sun books are wrapped in plastic, they are sort of like a box of Cracker Jacks - you don't know if you are going to get something good or bad until you fork over the money and buy it.  

1 comment:

Sammy Maida said...

That sucks! These book arent cheap either! Thanks for the review Jim!