The World the Trains Made

A Century of Great Railroad Architecture in the United States and Canada

James D. Dilts

James D. Dilts has written the first comprehensive study of the broad range of structures built in North America for the railroads during their heyday, from high-rise office buildings to resort hotels to roundhouses and shops. Dilts delves into the personalities of the people who conceived these structures and examines the creative new uses that have been found for many of them today. The railroads popularized such vogues in architecture as the Italianate style in the United States and the château style in Canada and pioneered the use of new materials and methods of construction. Included in this lavishly illustrated, full-color volume are more than a hundred of the finest examples of fourteen different building types. The World the Trains Made will appeal to railroad and architecture buffs, preservationists considering the adaptive reuse of historic structures, and anyone concerned about our transportation priorities in the age of climate change—particularly with regard to environmentally friendly railroads.

Cover Image of The World the Trains Made: A Century of Great Railroad Architecture in the United States and Canada
Cloth: $50
ISBN-13: 9781611688023
Pages: 304 | Size: 8.5 in. x 11 in.
Date Published: September 25, 2018


  • The World the Trains Made presents one hundred specimens of railroad architecture, from terminals and trestles to roundhouses and workers’ tenements. The photographs are splendid and so is the writing; Dilts may have set out to write an informative history but he has given us something even better, a poignant and unforgettable love letter to the train station.

    Michael J. Lewis
    author of Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind and American Art and Architecture
  • The Dilts tour-deeply informed and beautifully illustrated-takes us across North America to marvel at all the ways the railroads shaped our nation. What an inspiring and delightful book!

    Jill Jonnes
    author of Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic-The Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels
  • A superb work on the history of railroad architecture in its broadest sense. . . . A classic of railroad historical literature.

    Robert M. Vogel
    curator emeritus of mechanical and civil engineering, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
  • Dilts has imaginatively fashioned a different type of railroad book. His focus is on an array of existing American and Canadian railroad and railroad-related structures, ranging from urban terminals and train sheds to hotels and monuments. Dilts has created a masterpiece with his superb narrative and selection of illustrations. . . . A must for anyone who wishes to understand and to explore the North American landscape of the railway age.

    H. Roger Grant
    Clemson University
  • Over the course of a century, industrialists, engineers, architects, and laborers created a robust material culture to support rail transportation and its passengers. Dilts’ book comprehensively documents that lost world and the history from which today’s North America emerged.

    Jeremy Kargon
    Morgan State University

About the Author

JAMES D. DILTS, a railroad and architectural historian, is a former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, where he covered housing and transportation. His previous books include The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore and Ohio, the Nation’s First Railroad, 1828–1853; A Guide to Baltimore Architecture (with John R. Dorsey); and Baltimore’s Cast-Iron Buildings and Architectural Ironwork (with Catharine F. Black). He wrote the entries “Architecture” and “Workers’ Housing” in the Encyclopedia of North American Railroads.

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