Train Doctors (Reprised)

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I apologize for reprising a previous post but I’m knee deep in tax filing prep right now. And since I have nineteenth century railroads on the brain (I’m part of the Love Train series author group some others have mentioned here) I thought this post from back in 2009 would be fun to look at again. So here we go.

There are articles and headlines aplenty to be found around the topic of health care, but would it surprise you to learn that one of the early adopters of employer-based health care was the railroads?

While the vast majority of nineteenth century workers had to find and pay for their own medical care, the railroads were developing a unique and valuable benefit for their employees.

Because the nature of railway work and travel conditions led to a higher-than-normal likelihood of injuries not only to railway workers but also passengers and bystanders, some form of available medical services became a necessity.  The problem was only exacerbated when the transcontinental railroad opened, greatly expanding long distance overland travel opportunities.  As an ever increasing number of people traveled the rails across unsettled territory, territory that never seen trained physicians or even the most rudimentary of medical facilities, the railroad companies had no choice but to hire their own physicians and create medical facilities along their routes.

Thus was born the era of train doctors.  Most of the physicians who answered this call were actually general practitioners who could also perform surgery. And because of the unique dangers railroad workers faced, the so-called train doctors found themselves dealing with types of injuries which few had dealt with before.  They were pioneers in the development of trauma care under primitive conditions, developing techniques and treatments that eventually found their way into routine medical practice.

From the outset, most of these practitioners expressed concern over the conditions and equipment they had to work with, as well as the ability to see their patients in a timely manner when minutes could literally mean the difference between life and death.

One tool that resulted from the drive to get stop-gap care to workers who sustained injuries in remote areas, were special packs devised by railway surgeons to be carried on all trains.  These packs were stocked with basic emergency supplies such as medicines, sterile dressings and basic implements. These were, in fact, the precursors of the modern day first aid kit.  Train doctors also promoted training key railroad workers in the use of these materials so that the injured party could be given appropriate first line aide until a proper physician could be reached.

As for facilities, early on railroad doctors tried using hotel rooms, spare rooms in private homes or even back porches for emergency medical care, but such rooms not only lacked the necessary equipment, their use also resulted in a large expense for the railroads who not only paid for the use of the room but also faced cleaning and replacement costs for bloodstained linens and furniture.  As an alternative, the train doctors pushed for the development and use of hospital cars which could serve both as properly equipped surgical stations and as the actual transportation for seriously ill or injured patients.

As could be predicted, the adoption of such cars greatly improved the survival rate of the seriously injured railroad worker and eventually evolved into highly sophisticated facilities.  They had room enough to handle the care of three to four patients at one time as well as house a fully equipped operating room.  They were scrupulously maintained in order to provide a clean environment in which the surgeon could effectively perform his duties, stabilizing his patients before sending him or her on to a regular hospital.

Speaking of hospitals, the railroads were also very influential in establishing such facilities along their routes.  In mid-century it was remarked that a person traveling from St. Louis to El Paso would traverse 1300 miles without passing a single hospital.  And this was only one of numerous such stretches in the country.  The first railroad to respond to this glaring need was the Central Pacific Railroad which opened its own hospital in Sacramento in 1869.  Other railroads quickly followed suit, establishing their own hospitals along well traveled routes.

Dr. C.W.P. Brock, President of the National Association of Railway Surgeons, was quoted as saying: Mr. Greeley’s advice to the young man to “go west” may be followed with great benefit by railway surgeons from the older sections of our country; and when they have seen the superb hospitals and the practical workings of the system they will say, as the Queen of Sheba said after seeing the splendors of King Solomon, “that the half had not been told.”

On a more practical front, another surgeon was heard to estimate that “the daily cost per patient at a railway hospital runs from 40 to 60 cents, compared to $1.00 to $1.50 at a city or contract hospital.”

Train doctors for the most part were  very progressive in the medical field.  They endorsed the emphasis on sterilization and overall cleanliness in patient care well before such thinking was met with universal acceptance.  They were also progressive in their attitude toward embracing women into their profession.

In addition to surgery dealing with railroad-related injuries and general trauma care, railway surgeons also took on the role of an overall health care provider.  They treated a wide range of illnesses, performed routine checkups, delivered babies and advised on safety, health and sanitation issues.

Alas, the train doctors are no more.  There were a number of factors that contributed to the eventual demise of the once highly effective and indispensable system.  Key among them was the change in government regulations and the explosion of medical advances in the 1950s.  The last of the railroad hospitals were sold or closed in the 1970s and the remaining train doctors retired, joined other practices or set up private practices of their own.

But these dedicated men and women left an enduring legacy. Their trade journal, The Railway Surgeon, though it reinvented itself a number of times, remains in print today under the name Occupational Health and Safety

The modern day specialty of occupational medicine can trace its roots to these surgeons.  They also helped to shape modern medical practice, especially in the area of trauma study and care.  They were pioneers in front line field care, in the stabilization and transport of the seriously injured, in overall trauma care and in the development and use of the modern day first aid kit.

All but forgotten by the vagaries of our national memory, train doctors nevertheless played a major, but largely unsung, role in making the settlement of the western frontier a safer proposition for all who travelled through or eventually settled in the surrounding areas.

Thanks for your patience in allowing me to reprise an older post. As a reward I’d like to offer a chaoice of any book from my backlist to on (or more!) of the people who leave a comment here.

 

The Pinkerton & the Outlaw–E.E. Burke

In my upcoming historical romance, Lawless Hearts, a female Pinkerton detective and an Irish-Cherokee outlaw work together to find a missing agent and become entangled in a net of corruption, crime and murder. It’s a tale of daring deception, pulse-pounding suspense and sizzling romance, in a Western setting that is as authentic as it is wild.

The entire series is rooted in historical events that follow the expansion of the railroad across the American West, and it features numerous secondary characters from the pages of history. For my heroine, I took inspiration from the history of the Pinkerton Agency and the country’s first female detective.

A woman who made history

In 1856, a young 20-something woman named Kate Warne answered an advertisement for detectives posted by Allan Pinkerton to fill his fledgling agency. According to Pinkerton’s records, she convinced its progressive founder that women could be “most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective.” Her arguments and determination impressed Pinkerton and he hired her over the objection of his brother Robert, who was also a partner in the business. Thus Warne became the first female private detective in the United States.

Warne was an excellent private investigator and acted undercover, infiltrating social gatherings and events. During the Civil War, she was instrumental in saving Lincoln from the first assassination attempt. She wore disguises and changed her accent at will and became a huge asset for the agency. Later, Pinkerton hired other females and appointed Warne as Supervisor of Female Detectives. She mentored and trained other young women who sought to break out of the Cult of True Womanhood that persisted throughout the 19th and into the 20th century.

Two opposites who defy historical norms

 

In Lawless Hearts, Brigit Stevens is modeled after the young female detectives mentored by Kate Warne. These were women who sought to break out of the Cult of True Womanhood. They defied cultural norms and broke down societal structures. In that sense, they were truly “lawless” in their pursuit of justice.

Jasper Byrne isn’t just an outlaw whose heart is reawakened. His conscience is under intense reconstruction, as well. After spending most of his life attempting to be someone he isn’t—a bad guy—he takes Brigit up on her offer to join her on the right side of the law. Although he doesn’t perceive himself as a hero. In fact, he’s confused when Brigit treats him like one. But her determination to reform him inspires Jasper to resist the flow of culture and history and end up like so many others in his situation—at the end of a rope.

Unfortunately, there are some who have the law on their side and are using it for nefarious purposes, and they have Brigit and Jasper in the crosshairs.

Here’s a blurb:

Lawless Hearts

Book 5 in the series Steam! Romance and Rails

The deal she offers him could be a path to freedom or a detour straight to hell.

Jasper Byrne has been an outlaw more than half his life. He’d do things differently, if he had the chance, but it is too late to change—or so he thinks. In chains, on his way to court where he expects to be convicted, he is hijacked from under the nose of a U.S. Marshal by a woman who pretends to be a reporter.

Brigit Stevens has worked as an undercover Pinkerton agent for ten years, guarding her heart while putting high-ranking rascals behind bars. But when a fellow detective goes missing during a railroad investigation, she has to turn to a train robber for help. She offers him a deal if he’ll guide her to an outlaw hideout where even lawmen don’t dare to go.

Jasper admires the beautiful detective’s pluck and her clever disguises, but she doesn’t seem to understand he’s a scoundrel. As for Brigit, she is more even more surprised when the dangerously sexy outlaw steals her heart before she can find the lock.

Can an outlaw and a Pinkerton form more than a temporary partnership? Does love have the power to rewrite the future and create second chances?

A high-powered Western romance that transports readers back to the wild American frontier where lawless hearts reigned. Don’t miss the last, most exciting, episode in the series Steam! Romance and Rails.

Lawless Hearts will be released this summer, but it’s available as a preorder now. In the meantime, if you haven’t read the series, you can get started with Her Bodyguard for free if you sign up now for my newsletter.

As a special offer, I’ll also give away a copy of Fugitive Hearts, which sets the stage for Lawless Hearts.

What would be a woman’s strengths in working for the Pinkerton’s that a man wouldn’t have? I can think of several.

E.E. Burke is a bestselling author of historical romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been nominated for numerous national and regional awards, including Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream–writing stories readers can get lost in.

Find out more about her and her books at her website: http://www.eeburke.com

The Mother of Invention

I’m making one of the three sisters in my upcoming new series an inventor.

It’s 1870-ish California. The three girls are the daughters of a wealthy man who owns a mountain full of forests and he’s raised his daughters to take over.

In my research into a new area…I’ve never set a book in California before. And a new industry…logging. (relax there are cowboys!) I found that this age is just amazingly full of inventions.

The oldest daughter is an inventor. She’s other things, too…but she already has two patents at age twenty-one and has a head just brimming with ideas.

Highly educated by her father, always treated with respect, her brilliance acknowledged by her parents, she’s a little shocked when circumstances force the three sisters to run from an evil man and hide out acting as servants.

Well, they are lousy servants. As smart as they are, they realize how completely all these basic needs have been met all their lives while they were doing ‘important stuff’. And now someone expects them, based on their disguises, to know how to mend clothes, darn socks, do laundry and cook. These three brilliant women are incompetent and they start to understand that they’ve really not respected enough the people who have seen to all their basic needs all their lives.

Anyway, back to the inventor. While other people cook and clean and care for her, she’s wild to invent things.

And in the research I did for her I just found SO MANY INVENTIONS. This was a crazy age for newer, more modern inventions. (I suppose that’s true of every age though?)

The progress they were making with oil and gas, with engines, with updating everything. There were so many small (and yet HUGE) inventions. The undercarriage of a railroad train, the braking systems, the use of water power, steam power, wind power. And now here she is, Michelle, hiding from a bad man and expected to know how to turn a haunch of venison into supper for twenty people and all she can do is hope to not poison or starve everyone.

I really loved this research. Oddly enough, the strange, small inventions caught most of my attention. The most rudimentary automobiles (which were modified bicycles but with motors, but BAD motors) had been invented. Then with one tiny speck of progress at a time, I read somewhere there were over 100,000 patents for cars by the time Henry Ford created his assembly line, crude first steps became what we have today.

I read for a long time about the four stroke cycle engine, which is the engine inside a car, at it’s most basic at least, was theorized for a decade before someone managed to build a working model. My heroine is fascinated by that and, later in the series, when her husband is getting VERY TIRED of her blowing stuff up, especially herself, we mention that’s she’s working on that theory.

Anyway, necessity is the mother of inventions but for me and this book? Inventions were the mother of the necessity of me writing this story.

Book #1 coming in February, this is the little sister who likes dynamite. I’ll write about that next! The Element of Love 

Then next book comes in July #2 Inventions of the Heart

And finally next October, not available for preorder yet, we’ll have A Model of Devotion for the sister who likes building bridges.

Lots to talk about during an age that is just full of progress.

 

Setting the Scene in Durango, Colorado

MK McClintock

Are you ready for an adventure in the rugged Colorado mountains? Let’s take a journey back to 1899 with Cassandra McKenzie and Quinn Morgan, the duo out for justice in my latest release, The Case of the Copper King.

When Samantha St. Claire pitched the series and invited me along for the ride, I knew my original choice for a setting was not going to work. The historically rich town of Durango was not the original setting, but as Cassandra (aka Casey) and I were getting to know each other, we couldn’t agree on several things, and where she would spend most of the book was among our disagreements.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Durango is a railroad town in southwestern Colorado, and Silverton is a small mining town to the north. Durango was quite different today from what it was in my youth, but what has not changed is the intriguing history of a wild west town filled with contradictions and tales of both survival and prosperity.

View from the Durango & Silverton train_1989_MK McClintock

I couldn’t wait to get started on the research, and I have no problem admitting that it distracted me from the writing on numerous occasions.

Durango, founded in 1880, was constructed because of the gold beneath the rocky mountain soil and built on the backs of miners, prospectors, bankers, and enterprising men and women who found various ways to make a profit off the land, and off the people who worked the land.

Around Silverton and Animas Forks, Colorado_1989_MK McClintock

My memories of a babbling creek beneath a footbridge behind the house, walking around on all fours with the horses in the pasture, brunch at the Strater Hotel, and playing tourist at nearby resorts were not going to give me the foundation I needed for an 1899 setting. After months of research, I realized those youthful recollections were quite valuable when it came to Casey’s character. When she stepped off the train in Durango or rode into Silverton on the back of her mare, I was right there with her, seeing through her eyes, the hustle, dust, and color of those booming mining towns.

The Strater Hotel, opened in 1888 during a mining boom in Durango, Colorado | Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress

Durango and Silverton, like settings in many books, became secondary characters. From dusty streets to grand hotels, stockyards to caves, and saloons to sporting houses, Casey and Quinn experienced both the unsavory and the beautiful during their adventures.

If you haven’t been to these fascinating towns in Colorado, I highly recommend them. In the meantime, you can join the intrepid crime-solvers and experience a bit of how life might have been when a plucky Pinkerton and a bounty hunter with a conscience join forces.

If only the Rocky Mountain Funnel Cake Factory had been around in 1899, we could have had some real fun in Silverton.

Have you been to Durango or Silverton? If so, what is one of your favorite memories from your visit?

Giveaway!

I’ll be giving away both a of The Case of the Copper King and The Case of the Peculiar Inheritance to one random winner!

For a chance to win, leave a comment about one of your favorite western-related memories, or what wild-west era town you’d like to visit today.

To read an excerpt of The Case of the Copper King CLICK HERE.

Award-winning author MK McClintock writes historical romantic fiction about courageous and honorable men and strong women who appreciate chivalry, like those in her Montana Gallagher, British Agent, and Crooked Creek series. Her stories of adventure, romance, and mystery sweep across the American West to the Victorian British Isles, with places and times between and beyond. She enjoys a quiet life in the northern Rocky Mountains.

To purchase The Case of the Copper King CLICK HERE.

Website: http://www.mkmcclintock.com

The Transcontinental Railroad

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. According to my This Day In History Calendar, today is the 152nd anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad (May 10, 1869), an event that had a profound effect on everything from commerce to the environment of this country.

So today I thought I’d share a bit of history and trivia around this event.

First a timeline of key events:

  • 1832 – Dr. Hartwell Carver made his first push for construction of a railroad to connect the east coast to the west coast. That proposal didn’t make it through, but Dr. Carver didn’t give up and over the next several years continued to write articles supporting his proposal.
  • 1853 – Congress commissions a survey of 5 possible routes. These were completed by 1855
  • 1862 – The Pacific Railroad Bill signed by Abraham Lincoln. The act offered government incentives to assist “men of talent, men of character, men who are willing to invest” in developing the nation’s first transcontinental rail line.
  • 1863 (Jan) – The Central Pacific Railroad breaks ground in Sacramento. They lay the first rail in October of that same year.
  • 1863 (Dec) – The Union Pacific Railroad breaks ground in Omaha. But because of the Civil War it isn’t until July of 1865 that the first rail on the eastern end is laid.
  • 1869 – Transcontinental Railroad completed

Now on to some other Interesting facts and trivia:

  • The railroad line followed a route similar to that used as the central route of the Pony Express primarily because this route had been proven navigable in winter.
  • There were two main railroad companies involved in constructing the historic line. The Central Pacific Railroad received the contract to construct the line from Sacramento to points east. The Union Pacific Railroad was awarded the contract  to forge the path from Council Bluffs, Iowa west. As noted above, construction began in 1862 and in the early days the place where the two legs would meet up and become one was not decided.
  • As the project neared completion, President Ulysses Grant set Promontory Point Utah as the place where the two rails would meet. On May 10, 1869, the final spike was driven and the Transcontinental Railroad was deemed complete.
  • The final spike driven is often called the Golden Spike. However the spike was actually gold plated, a solid gold spike would have been much too soft to drive into the rail.
  • The total length of the rail line was 1,776 miles. 1086 miles was laid by the Union Pacific crew and 690 miles by Central Pacific. At the time of its completion it was one of the longest contiguous railroad in the world
  • The chosen route required 19 tunnels to be drilled through the mountains. This was no easy task during this time period and it managed to push forward barely a foot per day. Even when  nitroglycerin was introduced to blast through the rock it only increased their progress to 2 feet per day.
  • When completed, the Transcontinental Railroad allowed passengers to cross the country in just one week as opposed to the four to six months it had taken before.
  • The fare to travel from Omaha to San Francisco was $65 for a third class bench seat, $110 for a second class seat and $136 if you wanted to ride first class in a Pullman sleeping car.

And there you have it, a short and sweet lesson on the Transcontinental Railway. So what about you, do you have any experience with trains and railways you’d like to share? If not, would you like to ride a train someday?

My only personal experience was on a vacation to the Grand Canyon – we road the train from Williams AZ to the south rim, a trip of about 2 hours. It was a really fun addition to our vacation experience.

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a choice of any book from my backlist.

 

Chapel Cars – Reprise

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I have a book due at the end of this month and the last few weeks heading toward a deadline are always pretty intense for me. So I hope you will forgive me for pulling out an old post and dusting it off to share once again. This one appeared during my first year as a filly, 2009. Wow, hard to believe I’ve been part of this fabulous fun group for 11 years now!! Time really does pass fast when you’re having fun 🙂

 

‘Saving’ The West

I came across an article when researching circuit preachers for a minor story thread in one of my books.  The article covered a unique tool utilized by missionaries who were attempting to do their own brand of ‘taming the west’ – namely Chapel Cars.

These were railroad cars that were modified to serve as traveling churches.  They rode the rails from town to town, shifting over to sidings for as long as they were needed, then continuing on to the next stop.  They included modest living quarters for the missionary and, if he had one, his wife.  The rest of the space was utilized for the church itself.

Most western movies and tales glorify the gun-toting lawman or vigilante, portraying them as the tamers of the wild and woolly west.  In actuality, the peace-minded missionaries who rode the rails played a larger, more influential part in bringing peace to the lawless west than any of their more aggressive counterparts.  They traveled in their mobile churches to remote areas of the country, bringing spiritual direction and a civilizing influence to people who were starved for something to offset the violence and loneliness of their existence.

These Chapel Cars traveled throughout the west and mid-west – including North Dakota, Nevada, Minnesota, California, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon and Colorado.  They stopped at mining towns and logging camps, tent cities and newly established towns, bringing their gospel message and the reminder of civilization to people who had seen neither for a long time – if ever.

And, given the unfettered existence of those in the camps and towns, their appearance was surprisingly well received more often than not – especially by the ladies of the area.  The arrival of these Chapel Cars signaled not only the chance to attend Sunday services, but brought with them someone to perform weddings, funerals, baptisms and also a welcome excuse for social gatherings.  In addition, many a rough and tough cowboy who would have balked at attending a traditional church, seemed to feel differently about these side rail services.  In fact, the very novelty of the Chapel Car brought folks from miles around just to have a look.

Of course, they didn’t always receive a warm welcome.  There are recorded instances of the Chapel Cars being pelted with eggs and refuse, defaced with graffiti and even set on fire.  But these were rare instances and the cars and their custodians survived to continue their mission.

These repurposed rail cars were furnished with pews, a lectern, an altar table and in some cases an organ.  Depending on the construction, they could seat over 70 people inside.  The Chapel Car was a multipurpose unit, serving as a home, church, Sunday School, social hall, library and meeting place.  They carried bibles and tracts which were distributed all along the lines.  The missionary and his wife, in addition to their usual ministerial duties, were expected to function as singer, musician, janitor and cook.  They helped organize permanent churches, including raising the necessary funds and helping to construct the buildings.

There are records to support the existence of eleven Chapel Cars in all, though there is some evidence there may have been as many as seventeen.  Of the eleven known cars, three were utilized by Catholics, seven by Baptists and one by the Episcopalians.

Chapel cars remained in use throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  With the advent of World War I, however, the railroad tracks had to be kept clear for troop movement.  In addition, new regulations prohibited the railroad companies from giving ‘free rides’ to the Chapel Cars, something that had been common practice up until that time.  And as paved roads and the automobile became more prevalent it became easier for folks to travel longer distances on their own to attend church.  Thus, the Chapel Cars that had brought their spiritual message and civilizing influence to the rough and tumble west faded into history.

So, where’s the most memorable place you’ve attended a church service?

 

And on the good news front, Love Inspired is re-releasing one of my previous titles this month in a 2-in-1 volume with former Filly Cheryl St.John.  Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a signed copy.

 

SECOND CHANCE FAMILY

Mitch Hammond is a man of his word. And as far as Cora Beth Collins is concerned, that’s a problem. The stubborn sheriff has vowed never to love again, for fear of wounding someone else. The most he can offer Cora Beth is marriage in name only. And with no other way to adopt two runaway orphans and keep her patchwork family together, she accepts.

Mitch is doing the honorable thing. So why does it feel so wrong? Despite his intentions, Mitch is starting to want more from Cora Beth…and from himself. For in her trusting eyes he sees everything he hopes to be—as a lawman, a father and a husband.

 

 

Orphan Train Sweet Romances, and Train Travel in 1855

Hello everyone, Wendy May Andrews here. When I was planning this series I had to give a great deal of thought to the timing. I chose to set the series in 1855. I didn’t want to address any of the issues connected with the war so I had to make it as early as possible, but I also needed the train to go far enough West to be interesting. And, of course, there was the orphanage too. That’s the only place I took “creative license”. Mr. Charles Brace established the Children’s Aid Society in 1853 but in my first book, I have it that my heroine, Sophie, was a resident at the orphanage for ten years before she became one of the workers there. So the timing of that doesn’t quite jive. But other than that, everything else was perfect. And, too, there’s the fact that orphanages did exist in New York City ten years before 1855, just not one’s organized by Mr. Brace as he was only born in 1826.

The history surrounding the Orphan Trains is fascinating! I’m sure there are many sad tales in the annals of its history, but for the most part it afforded the opportunity for children to have a better life than what they would have had as abandoned orphans in the stews of the big city. Mr. Brace’s theory was that every farm table had room for at least one more, so he arranged for new homes out West with families who promised to house and educate the children. Unlike some other similar arrangements, Mr. Brace did not place the children in any sort of indentured circumstances so they had a better prospect for a happy future.

I also enjoyed researching what their new town might be like. This is a four book series. The first one, the prequel, takes place exclusively in New York, but the rest are set in their new town in Missouri. All three young women are city bred. The first, Cassie, had no intention of staying in the small town. She had just grown attached to the orphans and wanted to ensure they were getting good homes. Being a socialite from New York, she was a little appalled by the circumstances of the new town. But the other two young women, who planned to make new lives for themselves out West, were relieved to find it wasn’t as primitive as they had feared. Perspective is everything!

The rail construction boom also resulted in the development of new villages and towns along the way. The readier access to supplies with the train going through helped these new towns grow and thrive. I can’t say I would have loved to live back then, but it’s certainly a fascinating time to visit through research and good books.

Thank you for stopping by my guest visit here at Petticoats & Pistols! I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of Book 1 in the Orphan Train series. (Buy link for Sophie – Book 1

 

      SOPHIE

Blurb:

His pursuit of her threatens everything – except her heart:

Sophie Brooks has lived at the orphanage since she was ten years old. Now nineteen, she’s not only a resident, she works there as well. It’s the only true home she can remember and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it safe.

When her budding relationship with the son of one of the orphanage’s benefactors threatens the charity’s funding, Sophie must choose between her loyalties and her heart.

 

 

I’d love it if you check out the whole series page on Amazon

I can be found in various places around the web and I’d love to stay in touch: 

 

 

 

 

Hell on Wheels Towns

Nothing is more fascinating than the temporary towns that sprang up as the intercontinental railroad worked its way across the United States. For the most part, they were dirty and contained the dregs of society. But the fascination lies in how much people could tolerate in the way of creature comforts for some pretty good money. The buildings were comprised of nothing but canvas or sod and provided temporary homes for the workers and as the tracks progressed, so did the town. The businesses just pulled up stakes and moved, following the iron ribbon cutting across the prairie.

These places had just about everything—dentistry, hardware supplies, saloons, mercantiles, cafes. And of course, dance halls and prostitutes.

Most of the workers were single and veterans of the Civil War. They needed a job and the railroad needed men. All nationalities worked together.

The town of Benton, Wyoming was one such temporary town. It only existed for three months but it had a population of over 3,000. It had twenty-five saloons. I can’t even imagine this many people.

But many of the merchants were visionaries and saw great opportunity, therefore built sturdy structures. They stayed put when the temporary establishments moved on. They had faith that as long as the tracks remained, the people would come. It was also an exciting time for land developers, but such an atmosphere also planted seeds for the unscrupulous who cheated people out of their hard-earned money. They’d sell them land they didn’t own or they’d sell the same land to several different people which resulted in a nightmare.

Everyone wanted to cash in on the wealth that the railroad created.

A few of the cities that got temporary starts were: Billings, Laramie, Cheyenne, Reno, Tacoma, Fresno, and North Platte, Nebraska. There were hundreds more.

The historical western series Hell on Wheels was set in temporary towns as the Union Pacific laid down tracks in the race to Promontory Point where they drove the golden spike.

Fortunes were made and lost in creating the transcontinental railroad.

The human toll was staggering. Fifteen thousand men worked to build it. 1,500 died. White men earned $35 a month and that included room and board. The rest made $25 plus room and board. Using today’s inflation rate, that $35 amounts to $657.32.  Not much at all for the amount of backbreaking, dangerous work those guys did. The conditions were deplorable.

In which sector do you think the new boom will come from? Oil? Land? Technology? Maybe colonizing Mars or other planets?

Margaret Brownley and I have Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms releasing on October 3rd. Six stories that will warm your heart and put you in the Christmas spirit. I’ll offer several in giveaways next month so be watching! 

 

 

Railway Post Offices and a Giveaway

Hi,  Winnie Griggs here. I was doing some research the other day on how long it would take a letter to reach Texas from the east coast. As usual, I stumbled on an interesting little tidbit of history that I wasn’t looking for that took me down a fun little rabbit trail.

Did you know that from 1862 until 1977 there existed Railway Post Offices (RPOs).  These were not just rail cars that carried the mail, but were actual rolling post offices.  Between stops, the mailbags, which had heretofore sat untouched during travel, sometimes for days at a time, were now opened and the contents sorted and processed as the train sped toward its destination.

 

Originally, the railroad cars that housed these rolling post offices, were converted baggage cars that were furnished with wooden furniture.  Soon, however, a Railway Mail Service employee named Charles Harrison designed a set of fixtures that were a vast improvement over those. It consisted of cast-iron hinged pieces that could be folded and unfolded as needed and set in a number of different configurations to hold racks, mail pouches and a sorting table based on needs for specific routes and volumes of mail. These fixtures could also be completely folded away to leave a wide open space, thus converting it to a general baggage car if needed.

Letters that were cancelled aboard one of these RPOs received a postmark that indicated the route’s endpoints, the train number and the designation R.P.O.  A railway mail route could range in length anywhere from a few miles to over 1,100 miles.

Railway mail clerks had to undergo strict training.  Each clerk was expected to know the post offices and rail junctions, as well as local delivery details for the larger cities served along their route.  They had to undergo periodic testing to keep them sharp.  This testing included gauging speed and accuracy in sorting mail on a moving train, and a score above 96% was expected.

 

At the height of their use, Railway Post Offices were installed on over 9,000 train routes covering more than 200,000 miles.  Some dedicated mail trains were known to carry over 300 tons of mail daily.

The railway post office network began to decline at the end of WWII.  The last railway post office traveled between New York and Washington D.C. and was discontinued on June 30, 1977.

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of post office and railroad history. And speaking of mail, do you have any mail-related stories to share – letters from exotic locations, favorite postcards, a pen pal story?  Please do share.

And because I’m so very excited about my upcoming June release, A Tailor-Made Husband, I’m going to give away one of my advance copies to one of the commentators on today’s post.

A TAILOR-MADE HUSBAND

From Bachelor Sheriff to Family Man 

Tired of pining for handsome sheriff Ward Gleason, seamstress Hazel Andrews plans to head East for a fresh start—until Ward finds an abandoned child. Hazel can’t turn down his request that she watch the little girl while he investigates a spate of crimes. But spending time with Ward is sending local gossips—and Hazel’s heart—into turmoil.

Nothing in Ward’s world is the same since he took charge of orphaned Meg…and that includes his growing feelings for Hazel. A fake engagement will allow them to care for the child together until Hazel moves away and finds someone more worthy. But with little Meg convinced she’s already found her forever family, can Ward and Hazel dare to make her dreams come true, along with their own?

 

E. E. Burke: A Bonfire, S’mores, and Eight Western Romance Tales

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We’re so delighted to have E.E. (Elisabeth) Burke come to visit. This lady knows more about steam engine trains and Kansas history than anyone I know. She’s written a whole series around trains and is in the middle of a bride train series about mail order brides. She’s a fantastic, award-winning writer of historical western romances. Please make her welcome.

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What’s more fun than a bonfire and s’mores? Having a sizzling story to read while you’re enjoying the fall foliage. How about eight sizzling tales from the Old West?

I’m delighted to be part of a multi-bestselling author publishing project, HEARTS ABLAZE, a collection of eight Western historical romances set during the autumn months and blazing with passion and adventure. This set is available on Oct. 18 for just 99 cents, but you can preorder it now. Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/2ek7pL6!!

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When the eight of us first came together to work on this project, we quickly realized we had something very special–a collection that represented the varied and vibrant tapestry of the Old American West. From the wild Pacific forests to the lonesome prairies, on wagon trains and at frontier outposts, you’ll fall in love with lumberjacks and soldiers, trailblazers and trick riders, courageous warriors and rugged cowboys.

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For my part, I’m re-releasing an updated version of my debut novella, KATE’S OUTLAW, which is set against a historic railroad race. The race took place primarily in 1870, when two railroads were laying track through Kansas as fast as they could to be first to reach the border of Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma). Congress had promised the winning line free land and the exclusive right to pass through Cherokee lands into cattle-rich Texas.  The owners were ambitious men willing to do just about anything to secure the prize. Spies, saboteurs and even outlaws disrupted the competition and turned the contest into a battle.

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Most of the activity took place in southeastern Kansas in an area dubbed the Cherokee Neutral Lands because it was supposed to serve as a buffer between white settlers and the Indian Territory. As early as 1850, whites began to settle there, and by 1865, shortly after the Civil War, thousands of immigrants were pouring in.

The Tsa-la-gi (Cherokee) people had suffered setback after setback. Thirty years earlier, their homelands in the Southeast had been taken from them and they’d been forcibly marched west and relocated. They’d been dragged, divided, into the Civil War, and subsequently lost more land as a result. By the time the Katy showed up on their doorstep, they were sick and tired of the white men’s lies and broken promises.

The 1866 treaty gave one railroad the right to pass through their territory, but said nothing about giving land away, so when Congress promised free grants to the railroad, the Cherokee Nation objected—strenuously. A bitter lawsuit ensued. How the poor Indian nation paid for this legal battle isn’t mentioned, but I came up with a few theories, which led to my idea for Kate’s Outlaw.

heartsablazecoverIn the meantime, the Katy Railroad struggled to keep building so it didn’t go bankrupt after exhausting most of its resources to win the race. The line eventually crossed the Red River into Texas and became, for a time, a thriving railroad.

Today, the Katy no longer exists and portions of its rail bed have been turned into scenic hiking and biking paths. The Cherokee Nation has survived and thrived, ironically adapting to modern times much better than the railroad it challenged so many years ago.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Hearts Ablaze and check out my updated version of Kate’s Outlaw, along with seven other tales from bestselling authors.

In Whispered Love, bestselling author Kathleen Ball takes you to the wild Pacific Northwest, a land bristling with handsome, well-muscled lumberjacks. Foreman Samuel Pearse has only one rule; no women allowed. Until he finds one asleep in his bathtub—Pat Clarke, the company cook. With her secret revealed and her virtue at stake, Pat turns to the only man who can help her…the one man who sets fire to her heart.

The Officer and the Bostoner, from USA Today bestselling author Rose Gordon, follows the adventures of a well-to-do lady traveling cross-country to meet her intended. Instead, she finds herself stranded at a military fort and forced into an unwanted marriage. Can a hot-blooded officer spark love in his wife’s cold heart?

Fools Rush from USA Today bestselling author Ciara Knight. A young woman, desperate for independence from all men, embarks on a crazy cross-country wagon train adventure disguised as a man. Instead of finding her independence, a bounty hunter captures her under the guise of horse thieving, a crime punishable by hanging. Will a man she’s lied to for months save her, or will he surrender her to a monster with a badge?

Ridin’ For A Fall by Kirsten Lynn immerses you in a fiery tale of forever love. When circumstances force best friends and Wild West Show performers, Lena Boden and Kyle Allaway to marry and return to Wyoming, they must stand together against internal doubts and external forces seeking their destruction—or risk a fall that will knock them out of the saddle for good.

In A Warrior’s Heart, bestselling author Amanda McIntyre brings to life the passionate story of a bold Cherokee warrior and the brave white woman he rescues from certain death. Thrown together by circumstances not of their own making, they overcome betrayal and tragedy to find a love strong enough to bring nations together.

The Rancher, by bestselling author Hildie McQueen, transports readers to 1870s Montana Territory and into a sensual encounter between an injured rancher and a woman running for her life. Sometimes love enters at the worst moment…

In The Drifter, bestselling author Elizabeth Rose takes readers on an epic journey across the plains, as drifter Chase Masters shows up wounded at Nessa Pemberton’s stagecoach relay station mistaken as the bandit who killed her husband. Can a single mother learn to love again and put her trust in a man who is nothing but a drifter?

 

hb-partyJoin the party!

On Thursday, Oct. 20, from 6-10 p.m. Eastern, we’re rounding up lovers of Western historical romance for a big party on Facebook to celebrate the release of Hearts Ablaze.

Joining as hosts:  E.E. Burke, Hildie McQueen, Amanda McIntyre, Kathleen Ball, Rose Gordon, Ciara Knight and Elizabeth Rose. We’ll be turning up the heat (on each other), and providing readers with excerpts, fun facts, Flash giveaways, and a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card!

Hope you can make it! Here’s the link to RSVP and join the partyhttp://bit.ly/HeartsAblazeParty

What are some of your favorite characters in Old West stories? Cowboys? American Indians? Soldiers? Outlaws? Tell us why.

Today we’ll be giving away a FREE boxed set to a lucky commenter.

About E.E. Burke:

Weave together passionate romance and rich historical detail, add a dash of suspense, and you have books by bestselling author E.E. Burke. E.E., also known as Elisabeth, has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart®. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream–writing stories readers can get lost in.

Find out more at E.E. website: http://www.eeburke.com

Sign up for her newsletter and start her Steam! Romance and Rails series FREE: http://bit.ly/SteamFreeBook

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