August 7, 2003
11.00 Inches (US)
8.50 Inches (US)
3.3 Pounds (US)
$72.00 USD, £53.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946, Volume 1

Volume 1: The Mid-Atlantic States

A pair of gleaming rails embedded in a farmhouse driveway. A wooded cycling trail that traces an oddly level path through suburban hills. An abandoned high fill that briefly parallels the interstate. Today, little remains of the vast network of passenger and freight railroad lines that once crisscrossed much of eastern and midwestern America. But in 1946, the steam locomotive was king, the automobile was just beginning to emerge from wartime restrictions, passenger trains still made stops in nearly every town, and freight trains carried most of the nation's intercity commerce.

In A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946, Richard C. Carpenter provides a unique record of this not-so-distant time, when traveling out of town meant, for most Americans, taking the train. The first volume of this multivolume series covers the mid-Atlantic states and includes detailed maps of every passenger railroad line in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. When completed, the series will provide a comprehensive atlas of the U.S. railroad system at its post-World War II high point—a transportation network that many considered the finest railroad passenger system in the world.

Meticulously crafted and rich in detail, these hand-drawn color maps reveal with skilled precision—at a scale of 1 inch to 4 miles (or 1:250,000)—the various main and branch railroad passenger and freight lines that served thousands of American towns. The maps also include such features as long-since-demolished steam locomotive and manual signal tower installations, towns that functioned solely as places where crews changed over, track pans, coaling stations, and other rail-specific sites.

Currently, there exists no comprehensive, historic railroad atlas for the U.S. This volume, with its 202 full-scale and detail maps, is sure to remain the standard reference work for years to come, as will the others to follow in the series.

About the Author

Richard C. Carpenter is the retired executive director of the South Western Regional Planning Agency in Connecticut.


A labor of love... nothing short of a miracle. I looked at it again last night, and it took my breath away. It's the kind of work that only a gang of monks would consider undertaking. It really is fabulous.

- Fred Rasmussen - Baltimore Sun

In this first of several volumes, Carpenter looks at the Mid-Atlantic states with painstakingly drawn quadrant maps showing station names, mileposts, interlocking stations, coaling stations, track pans, tunnels, viaducts, and bridges... An enthusiast can cross-reference locations to visit even if the rails themselves are pulled up.

- Trains


It is an amazing piece of work, especially the level of detail. It's a treasure tove of obscure information... It answers questions that you didn't even think to ask.

- Maury Klein, University of Rhode Island

Surely one of the most appealingly eccentric publishing ventures of the year.

- The New Yorker

This will be the finest railroad atlas ever published. Carpenter has invented his own style of cartography. Artistically, it's a beautiful product. Not only does Carpenter's work have no close competitors, its value actually will be enhanced by using it in conjunction with other data sources... This is a splendid piece of work, a labor of love for the author, no doubt, and truly a gift for anyone interested in the industrial landscape of the recent past.

- John C. Hudson, Northwestern University

Without exception, I have found these maps to be completely accurate. They have been drawn in a very clear and appealing manner, so that any reader will understand exactly what the railroad plant looked like in 1946—immediately following the peak of World War II operations.

- Richard B. Hasselman, Senior Vice President of Operations, CONRAIL (retired)

The year 1946 was, in short, a pinnacle of American railroading, as Dick Carpenter '55 notes in his new book, A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946 Volume 1: The Mid-Atlantic States, which sets out, with admirable directness and startling scope, to map every aspect of railroading in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

- Brian Doyle - Boston College Magazine

This is a fascinating volume for the railroad buff, those interested in the interrelationship of railroads and American history, or those merely investigating the bridge or tunnel in their town from what is now a ghost railroad.

- American Reference Books Annual

A vital tool in understanding the layout of the rail network in the Northeast.

- Peter E. Lynch - Penn Central Railroad

Carpenter's work will be welcomed by railroad enthusiasts but will also help anyone trying to understand or reconstruct rail presence in urban or rural areas. Highly recommended.

- Choice

The atlas is the work of Richard Carpenter: 220 hand drawn maps—a piece of craftsmanship at once so distinctive, and also so useful, it instantly reveals the sterility of computer-generated maps.

- Charles Fishman - Fast Company

The most detailed resource ever produced on the American railway system.

- Chris Iseli - Baltimore Magazine

A labor of love... Mr. Carpenter's hand drawn maps speak for themselves... Railroad professionals and enthusiasts will like this book because it is so comprehensive.

- John F. Baesch - The Portolan

Proof that inspiration can result in something astounding... a treasure that any rail enthusiast or casual historian will enjoy.

- Scott Bogren - Rail

What a task! 328 pages, with 202 meticulously crafted four-color maps.

- The Keystone

The detail is fantastic... A railfan could spend hours pouring over the maps in this hardbound book.

- S Gaugian / Sn3 Modeler

This book justifies its price in being essential to understanding the complexities of American railroading, signalling and otherwise.

- The Signalling Record

A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946 could be considered an inspired work of visionary art.

- John Lewis - Baltimore Magazine

A fascinating work documenting railroad facilities... at a time when they still mattered, both economically and culturally.

- Gregory L. Thompson - Journal of Transport History

Carpenter knows railfans, and his multi-color atlas of rail lines as they stood in 1946 will keep them up into the wee hours... So extensive is Carpenter's work that the 276 maps and drawings included in this 360-page Volume 3 covers only Indiana, Lower Michigan and Ohio.

- Steve Goddard - History Wire - Where the Past Comes Alive
Johns Hopkins University Press
Volume 1
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9780801873317 : a-railroad-atlas-of-the-united-states-in-1946-volume-1-carpenter
328 Pages
$72.00 USD

Other Titles by Richard C. Carpenter

A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946, Volume 5

Richard C. Carpenter
Oct 2013 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback

A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946, Volume 4

Richard C. Carpenter
Nov 2011 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback

A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946

Richard C. Carpenter
Dec 2008 - The Johns Hopkins University Press
$74.00 USD - Hardback

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