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The white cascade : the Great Northern Railway disaster and America's deadliest
Gary Krist
Adult Nonfiction QC929.A8 K75 2007

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In a briskly paced and vividly written account, novelist Krist (Bad Chemistry) relates the tale of two trains, trapped on the tracks in Washington's Cascade Mountains in February 1910, that were subsequently swept away by the deadliest avalanche in American history. With a wealth of end notes attesting to the scope of his research, Krist complements his thorough recreation of events with telegrams, journal entries and newspaper clippings. He also does an elegant job of evoking the hubris that led to the crisis, the claustrophobia and panic of those who endured it and the misery of those left to deal with its aftermath, from the devastated relatives to the Great Northern Railway officials whose trains, Krist writes, were supposed to be "the ultimate symbols of twentieth-century America's new mastery over its own geography and climate." The tragedy gains resonance from Krist's avoidance of hyperbole, as he chooses instead to draw out the emotional toll by focusing on individual stories like that of Ida Starrett, who was the last person to be rescued but who was trapped in the snow atop her own dying baby. As a novelist, he also displays a keen sense for the telling of the story itself and the importance of balancing detail with pace. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In 1910, two Great Northern Railway trains became trapped by snow slides in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. After several days of impasse, an avalanche hit the trains, taking nearly 100 lives. Using court testimony, diaries, letters, and other documents, journalist and novelist Krist (Bad Chemistry) describes in painstaking detail the turmoil of the trapped passengers and crew and the efforts of the railway to free them. He provides sufficient background history on the Great Northern's procedures and on snow conditions in the Cascades for the reader to understand the situation fully. Krist centers the story on the actions of indefatigable Cascade division superintendent James H. O'Neill, whose decisions, all based on his best railroad judgment, ultimately led to the tragedy. This real-life thriller compares well to Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm and is a gripping book to curl up with (though maybe not on a snowy winter's night). It should be a popular choice for public libraries, all libraries in the Northwest, and those collecting on railroads. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/06.]-Lawrence R. Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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