Books: Pacific Fruit Express

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Signature Press Books: Pacific Fruit Express - Second Edition

By Anthony W. Thompson, Robert J. Church and Bruce H. Jones

"RECOMMENDED READING" ...Trains magazine, March 2001

First edition published, June, 1992; out of print since January, 1997. Widely acclaimed in its first edition, not only for its complete and detailed coverage of the PFE car fleet, but also for its corporate history and extensive description of harvesting and shipping of Western perishables, the book has in recent years brought $200 and more per copy on the used book market.

The product of six years of research by each of the authors, this book is a must for the historian and serious modeler. Covered in detail are company history, management organization, turn of the century predecessor refrigerator cars, all classes of wood and steel ice refrigerator cars, mechanical refrigerators, trailers, flat cars and containers, car repair shops, natural ice and manufactured ice plants, western agricultural development and produce shipping, and an album of PFE in action across America, along with an Appendix of 34 pages, a fully detailed bibliography, and an index.

The book has been re-issued as a second edition. A number of corrections and additions were made in the text, and improved photographs were included in some cases; the total number of corrected pages is about 100. Furthermore, 56 new color images, as well as tabular equipment summaries, were also added, bringing 32 new pages to the book. In all, about a third of the pages in the new edition are new or revised. There are now 744 total photographs in the book (64 in color), along with 52 drawings, maps, and other graphics. A triple-width foldout map of the PFE system by cartographer John Signor is retained. Publication date was August 15, 2000 (new ISBN: 1-930013-03-5). Price is $75, the same as the first edition.

This new edition returns a classic book to print in a bigger and still better version of one of the standard texts about railcar and operations history. There is no comparable book about any North American freight car fleet, and few with even similar coverage of both history and operations of the company. A few comments from reviewers of the first edition indicate the respect in which this book is held.

Comments on the First Edition

"This book is comprehensive, carefully researched, and abundantly illustrated. It is an indispensable resource for scale modelers as well as historians."

-- Richard Hendrickson, in Railroad Model Craftsman magazine

"Thorough research has yielded much information and is well synthesized into a whole. The company, operations, and freight cars have been given their due. This is the finest book of its kind ever published."

-- Al Westerfield, freight car historian

"Here is a superb illustrated history of the company whose name is synonymous with perishable freight. Rounding out the work is the most complete bibliography and index I have ever seen in a rail history book." -- Jim Hediger, in Trainsmagazine

"A giant subsidiary of two major railroads, usually only referred to as a sidelight, has been thoroughly researched and accurately presented. An exceptional book."

-- William Kratville, railroad historian

Comments on the Second Edition

"...impressively complete and well-executed history of the company that [details] every aspect of PFEs far-flung empire...this highly-regarded book is back in a second, and expanded, edition." -- Carl A. Swanson, in Trainsmagazine

Size: 472 pages, 8.5" x 11"; 52 maps and drawings, 744 photographs, index, bibliography

Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgements v
Section I -- The Company
1. Company History 3
2. Company Organization 41
Section II -- The Car Fleet
3. PFE's Predecessors 57
4. The Early Wood Cars 69
5. PFE's Roaring Twenties 87
6. New Directions 109
7. Rebuilding the Fleet 127
8. The Steel Ice Cars 161
9. Mechanical Refrigerators 193
10. Flat Cars and Trailers 233
Section III -- Operations
11. Car Shops 247
12. Natural Ice Plants 275
13. Ice Manufacturing and Ice Transfer Plants 291
14. Western Perishables 341
15. PFE in Action 377
Appendix 417
System Map (foldout) 432
Bibliography 451
Index 461


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