Dick Kreck – Hell On Wheels: Wicked Towns Along the Union Pacific Railroad.

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Hell On Wheels: Wicked Towns Along the Union Pacific Railroad – Dick Kreck (2013, Fulcrum Publishing, Colorado)

For train buffs and fans of American history, Dick Kreck has assembled a well-researched chronological account of the building of the Union Pacific Railroad in the 1860s. Kreck details how the construction of the railroad burst open the West for migrants and travellers, as trains overtook covered wagons and stagecoaches as an expeditious means of transportation across the vast country.  His focus is on the wild, often-temporary towns nicknamed Hell on Wheels that sprang up as the UP snaked its way west, and the book is chockfull of excerpts from historical documents, including diaries and letters, describing the lawless, anything-goes nature of the transients that followed the rails.

A fascinating account all around, Hell on Wheels would nevertheless have benefitted from some tight editing: several sentences and paragraphs are repeatedly paraphrased, which frustrates the reader and causes the book to seem rambling at times.

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