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Connecting curious minds with uncommon, undeniably Northwest reads

Steam to Diesel

Jim Fredrickson's Railroading Journal

Jim Fredrickson


Fredrickson’s career with the Northern Pacific spanned a period of far-reaching technological change, which he thoroughly documented through photography. Steam to Diesel presents some of his best photos of the NP and its competing lines. Insightful essays give fascinating behind-the-scenes information about everyday working men and women. See Fredrickson’s other railroad book, below.


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In 1943, old hands at Tacoma’s Union Station probably didn’t think much of the idea of hiring a green, 16-year-old kid. But with so many men away at war, the labor shortage was critical and any new worker was welcome. Jim Fredrickson didn’t disappoint. From this humble start, he flourished as a train dispatcher extraordinaire on the Northern Pacific’s Tacoma Division in Washington State.

Jim worked his way up through the division to qualify for the “Mountain” district. Today, he is best remembered for operating this territory from Auburn across the Cascade Range to Yakima. Jim kept the “Mountain” running like clockwork.

The story of the Pacific Northwest railroading for most of the last half of the twentieth century is entwined with Jim Fredrickson’s life. His career spanned a period of far-reaching technological change—from steam to diesel, from parcel freight to containers, from semaphore to radio. And, being a fine, life-long photographer, Jim got it all down on film.

He also photographed the NP’s great competing lines—the Milwaukee, Union Pacific, and Great Northern—and the successors, Burlington Northern and Amtrak. Jim crossed the border into Canada to photograph the Canadian Pacific, BC Electric, and Canadian National as well. Today, his collection of regional railroad photographs and historical memorabilia is unparalleled. Steam to Diesel presents some of his best.

Illustrations / photographs / maps / index / 160 pages (2001)

Additional information

Weight N/A
Dimensions 10.5 x 9 in

Hardbound, Paperback