The Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas is a collection of mostly historic photographs of the once great line that had a huge footprint in the state before being shut down in March 1980. The book was released by Arcadia Publishing in April 2017 as part of its Images of Rail series. It’s available from most major bookstores in central Arkansas, online retailers, or click on the cover of the book to order a copy from the publisher.
I put the book together including photos taken by Clifton Hull, Bill Pollard, Edward Wojtas, Earl Saunders and others, drawing from the resources of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture, the North Little Rock History Commission and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I also included many of my own photos from the years after the railroad was shut down, documenting what was left in the state.
While I had been researching the Rock Island for decades, mainly recording oral histories with former employees, preparing a book of high resolution photographs was a totally different challenge. I have to thank Dr. Bill Pollard, a railroad historian from Conway, for his assistance in scanning old photographs and slides from his collection. I couldn’t have done it without him.
My first lecture on the topic was held April 4, 2017, the day after the book was released. Appropriately enough, it was at the Clinton School of Public Service, which is housed in the 118-year-old building that for nearly 70 of those years was the Rock Island’s Little Rock passenger station. It was great speaking there because when I first started researching the Rock Island and going out to look at the building in the late 1980s it was boarded up and had an uncertain future. You can watch my full presentation, as filmed by the Clinton School of Public Service, on the link.
I was also interviewed about the Rock Island for the half-hour public television program Barnes and… on the Arkansas Educational Television Network, which is the local PBS outlet. The program aired Monday, July 17, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. and can be watched below. They also included several photographs from the book.
Below are other lectures and book signings scheduled for the book. Copes of the Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas can be purchased at these events. I’ve also included some press coverage I’ve received.
Upcoming events where I’ll be speaking:
- Monday, January 22, 2018, White County Historical Society, Harding Place Retirement Center, 801 Benton Ave, Searcy, Arkansas, 7 p.m., lecture.
- Tuesday, August 21, 2018, Arkansas State Archives, Pen to Podium: Arkansas Historical Writers’ Lecture Series, Department of Arkansas Heritage Diamond Room, 1100 North Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, 6:30 p.m., lecture.
Previous events and media coverage:
- Saturday, April 1, 2017, Arkansas Railroad Museum, 1700 Port Road, Pine Bluff, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., book signing.
- Tuesday, April 4, 2017, Clinton School of Public Service, 1200 President Clinton Ave, Little Rock, 12 p.m.
- Friday, April 14, 2017, Historic Arkansas Museum’s Art Night, 200 E. 3rd Street, Little Rock, 5 to 7 p.m., book signing.
- Friday, April 14, 2017, UA Little Rock University News.
- Saturday, April 15, 2017, Wordsworth Books, 5920 R Street, Little Rock, 1 to 3 p.m., book signing.
- Thursday, April 26, 2017, Interview with KASU radio in Jonesboro.
- Saturday, April 29, 2017, Arkansas Literary Festival, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, 602 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, 4 p.m., lecture and book signing.
- Saturday, May 27, 2017, 100th Anniversary Russellville Depot Celebration, 320 West C Street, Russellville, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., book signing.
- Saturday, June 17, 2017, Barnes & Noble, North Little Rock, 11 a.m.- 1 p.m., 4000 McCain Blvd, North Little Rock, book signing.
- Monday, July 17, 2017, interviewed for a half-hour episode of the public television program Barnes and… on the Arkansas Educational Television Network, which is the local PBS outlet.
- Wednesday, August 2, 2017, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies’ Legacies and Lunch, Darraugh Center at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library, 100 Rock Street in Little Rock, 12 p.m., lecture and book signing.
- Tuesday, August 8, 2017, Perry County Historical and Genealogical Society, Milam Library, 609 Aplin Street, Perryville, 7 p.m., lecture to discuss effort to preserve the former Rock Island depot at Perry.
As a companion to the book, I’m also preparing a podcast series of maybe 10 to 15 episodes to include interviews I’ve conducted with former Rock Island employees and others with a connection to the railroad.