A lively chronicle of the five Western railroads in their late 19th-century heyday and the greed and corruption perpetuated by their big wheels in the front office. From the beginning, The Iron Horse faced opposition--from steamboat interests and Indians--but it was the land grabbers, stock manipulators, and open-throttle industrialists who so enraged the public that the federal government was forced to intervene with the decidedly ineffectual Interstate Commerce Commission. Brown amply documents the shady dealings of the varsity team--Huntington, the Big Four, Gould, Cooke, the Army Corps of Engineers, Durant and the Credit Mobilier--but his text is also packed with souvenirs of the era. He reports on robberies and labor resentments, mechanical improvements and Pullman splendors, false advertising and immigrant fares, the cultivated incivility of trainmen, the pervasive dust on transcontinental journeys, and the hapless pioneers who moved west and watched the railroads carry their crops and money away. A system built by buccaneers, recreated in colorful detail.