Unless it can be moved by the end of the year, the century-old Rock Island depot at Perry, Arkansas will be torn down. The shortline Little Rock and Western Railway, which nows owns the property, wants to get rid of the dilapidated structure, but is working with local preservationists who are looking at whether it would be possible to move the depot so that it can be preserved. I’ve talked with those on all sides of this and recently was allowed inside the building to take photos. READ MORE.
I was able to talk about my book Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas on the program Barnes and… on the Arkansas Educational Television network, which is the local PBS outlet. The program, which was aired July 17, 2017 at 6:30 p.m., also features many of the photographs included in the book. You can find a list of upcoming public events and a link to buy the book here.
I’ve got several new events coming up related to my book Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas. First, I’ll have a book signing at Barnes & Noble, 4000 McCain Blvd in North Little Rock on Saturday, June 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then on Wednesday, August 2, I’ll be hosting a lecture about the history of the Rock Island as part of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies’ Legacies & Lunch program at 12 p.m. in the Darragh Center at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library, 100 Rock Street in Little Rock. That will be followed by a book signing.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve recorded an interview for a half-hour episode of Barnes and… with Steve Barnes which will air on the Arkansas Educational Television Network on July 17 at 6:30 p.m. It will feature many of the historic photographs included in the book.
I’m nearing the debut of my first episode in a podcast series I’ve been producing, which will probably run about 15 episodes and feature segments from about two dozen interviews I’ve recorded over the years with former employees of the Rock Island and others with a connection to the railroad. Look for that by the first week in July.
One final note, I only recently bought a copy of my own book through iBooks on my iPad and was impressed at the quality of the photos. You can double click an image and then zoom deep inside the historical photos. The book is available for sale at most major bookstores in central Arkansas, as well as online retailers like Amazon, but if you’d like to get it for a digital device, I was very pleased with the quality. To learn more about my book, find a link to watch a previous lecture I gave at the Clinton School of Public Service and more, click here.
A huge project which has dominated much of my free time over the last two years has been preparing a new book for Arcadia Publishing called Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas, which is part of its Images of Rail series. The book is a collection of mostly vintage photographs of the railroad taken around the state and was officially released on April 3. It’s available at major bookstores in Arkansas, or can be ordered online. I’m excited that my first lecture on the subject was Tuesday, April 4, at the Clinton School of Public Service, which is housed in the 118-year-old building that for much of its existence was the Little Rock passenger station for the Rock Island. Click here to find a link to watch a video of my presentation, learn more about the book, where to purchase it, or find when and where I’ll be taking part in future lectures or book signings.
I’ve been researching the Rock Island off and on for 29 years, recording interviews with former employees, visiting locations in the state that were once used by the railroad, and most recently, got access to the files of former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton who was in his first term in office when the Rock Island was shut down in 1980. I plan to get many of those documents posted in the coming year to offer a different perspective on what a crisis this was for the state. About 700 people worked for the railroad in Arkansas at the time, and there were then efforts to try and get a new railroad to buy the former trackage, much of which ended up being removed.
But in the short term, my next project concerning the railroad is producing a podcast series using audio of interviews I’ve recorded with more than 20 people over the years, most former employees, to give a firsthand account of life working for the Rock Island and the impact its shutdown had on the state. Look for the first episode in the coming weeks. I expect I’ll probably produce about 10 to 15 episodes in the coming months.