Another in the ""Railroads of America"" series which has already chugged through the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, the Baltimore and Ohio, the Illinois Central, and the Northern Pacific, among others. If you're a buff, you know the format -- from the beginning to the end of the line. And all those wondrous details about spikes and tracks and specs. Stevens adheres to it like a locomotive engineer chasing his caboose, starting with Canada's very first rail project, the Champlain and St. Lawrence (the first rails were six-inch pine squares linked by iron splice plates; the first engine, the Dorchester, the 127th built by Robert Stephenson and Company at Newcastle-on-Tyne in England, was thirteen feet six inches in length with four driving wheels, each 40 inches in diameter) and moving through the historical particulars of the now publicly owned and rather successful -- as modern railroads go -- Canadian National Railways (35,000 miles of track with gross revenues annually in excess of one billion dollars and a pension fund -- ""a story in itself"" -- which in 1968 disbursed $53,500,000 to 34,768 pensioners). The names and the facts. . . and the facts. . . and the facts. . . and the facts. . . and the factsandthefactsandthefactsandthefacts are all here and the only question we'd like to ask is why can't the authors of this series write with the verve and drama of a Pierre Berton, whose Impossible Railway (p. 890), the story of the Canadian Pacific, is the best train ride we've ever taken?