Title: Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and ...
Publisher: Flagler Museum
Publication Date: 2012
Book Condition: New
Dust Jacket Condition: No Jacket
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
This is a brand new *SIGNED* copy of the gorgeous Centennial Edition (2012) of this Florida classic about the "extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of the Key West railroad -- one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, destroyed in one fell swoop by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935." (Publisher's blurb) Written and signed without inscription on the title page by prolific novelist Les Standiford, this edition features dark green cloth embossed in silver, and includes numerous illustrations and photographs, some in vintage black and white, others in color. A great story and perfect gift for anyone interested in Florida's history, railroading, or the collecting of beautiful books. Bookseller Inventory # ABH199
Synopsis: Last Train to Paradise is acclaimed novelist Les Standiford?s fast-paced and gripping true account of the extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of the Key West Railroad?one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, destroyed in one fell swoop by the strongest storm ever to hit U.S. shores.
In 1904, the brilliant and driven entrepreneur Henry Flagler, partner to John D. Rockefeller and the true mastermind behind Standard Oil, concocted the dream of a railway connecting the island of Key West to the Florida mainland, crossing a staggering 153 miles of open ocean?an engineering challenge beyond even that of the Panama Canal.
?The financiers considered the project and said, Unthinkable. The engineers pondered the problems and from all came one verdict, Impossible. . . .? But build it they did, and the railroad stood as a magnificent achievement for twenty-two years. Once dismissed as ?Flagler?s Folly,? it was heralded as ?the Eighth Wonder of the World??until a will even greater than Flagler?s rose up in opposition. In 1935, a hurricane of exceptional force, which would be dubbed ?the Storm of the Century,? swept through the tiny islands, killing some 700 residents and workmen and washing away all but one sixty-foot section of track, on which a 320,000-pound railroad engine stood and ?gripped its rails as if the gravity of Jupiter were pressing upon it.? Standiford brings the full force and fury of this storm to terrifying life.
In spinning his saga of the railroad?s construction, Standiford immerses us in the treacherous world of the thousands of workers who beat their way through infested swamps, lived in fragile tent cities on barges anchored in the midst of daunting stretches of ocean, and suffered from a remarkable succession of three ominous hurricanes that killed many and washed away vast stretches of track. Steadfast through every setback, Flagler inspired a loyalty in his workers so strong that even after a hurricane dislodged one of the railroad?s massive pilings, casting doubt over the viability of the entire project, his engineers refused to be beaten. The question was no longer ?Could it be done?? but ?Can we make it to Key West on time?? to allow Flagler to ride the rails of his dream.
Last Train to Paradise celebrates this crowning achievement of Gilded Age ambition, a sweeping tale of the powerful forces of human ingenuity colliding with the even greater forces of nature?s wrath.
From the Hardcover edition.
Review: In Last Train to Paradise novelist Les Standiford has written a lively, felicitous account of the building of the Florida East Coast Railway, which, for a little over two decades, connected mainland Florida with Key West. Henry Morrison Flagler, John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil partner and, in many eyes, the true genius behind that company, embarked on the project in 1905 when he was 74 years old. The railroad, which crossed more than 150 miles of open sea, was an engineering feat nearly equal in scale and difficulty to the digging of the Panama Canal. Standiford's narrative skillfully blends tales of construction perils (not the least of which were escadrilles of mosquitoes) with brief, illuminating travelogues and natural histories, pocket descriptions of life in early 20th-century Florida, and a truly gripping description of an epic standoff between Mother Nature, in the form of a monstrous hurricane, and a stalled, 160-ton steam locomotive. With nary a single missed note, this fascinating tale is popular history at its best. --H. O'Billovich
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