Friday, February 01, 2019

The White Cascade

The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America's Deadliest Avalanche. Gary Krist. 2007. 315 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
Summer 1910
The last body was found at the end of July, twenty-one weeks after the avalanche.
Premise/plot: Gary Krist's The White Cascade is a compelling nonfiction read about a tragic disaster. On March 1, 1910 an avalanche swept two trains off the track and into the canyon below. But that's not quite the whole story--the trains had been trapped on the side of the snowy mountain for six days. Snow slides kept trapping all traffic on the tracks. It was a demanding, never-ending, no-relief-in-sight job to keep the tracks clear of snow. And this week/weekend proved impossible. The storm was relentless.

The White Cascade tells the story--the weather, the storms, the history of the railway, the management by James Henry O'Neill, the passengers and workers. It was an intense situation for all parties involved. Intense for O'Neill who was responsible--not for the weather, mind you, that would be nonsense--but for how the railroad chose to deal with the weather. He was in charge of which trains went where. He was in charge of determining which tracks stayed open, which tracks closed down; he was in charge of rerouting trains. He was in charge of managing resources--men, coal, other supplies, etc. It was also intense for the passengers on board the two trains. One train was a fast mail train who up until this time had had a great record for being dependable and on time. The other train was an express passenger train. Nobody stepped on that train expecting anything other than a quick train ride. Unfortunately it was worst case scenario almost from the start.

My thoughts: I don't know if a book could get any bleaker than The White Cascade. The passengers soon became aware--after the first day or two--of the risks and dangers of being STUCK on the side of a mountain in a precarious place. True, there were attempts to calm them down by saying that this particular location had never been the site of a slide or avalanche before...but...common sense told most if not all of the adults that that meant NOTHING. There was much talk of doing something--demanding to see O'Neill, demanding the railway move the train somewhere else, demanding the railway try to rescue passengers and get them down off the mountain another way, demanding more be done to clear the tracks so the train could be on its way. There was this waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. Would the storm pass? Would the weather improve? Were higher temperatures a good thing or a bad thing? Was it safer to stay on the train and wait out the storm? Was it safer to hike down the mountain on foot? (Some passengers did choose to hike down the mountain. It was difficult going--not without some risk--but it was possible.) Still not everyone could hike down the mountain--what about the mothers with young children? What about the elderly? the sick?

This was a compelling read. I read it in two days--it was intense and heartbreaking.

I don't know if it's possible to "love" a book this bleak, but, I love how well-researched this one was.


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comments:

Debbie V. 6:26 AM  

I listened to the audio-book "The Christmas Train" by David Baldacci last month. A totally different outcome (it's romantic fiction with some humor) but interesting that it is the same premise as The White Cascade - a passenger train trapped by snow.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP