Trains of Discovery: A Journey through our National Parks

August 23, 2011, 9:44 am

Trains of Discovery transports readers across the country and through the amazing history of the relationship between trains and our National Parks. The fifth edition includes a new focus on the trains in the East. Without the railroads crucial link to draw visitors west and help the parks grow, the iconic places we know today may have looked very different.

The book pays homage to a crucial time in the history of the National Parks that is oft forgotten. The railroads saw the National Parks as an opportunity to make a profit, something author Alfred Runte says is perfectly fine with as long as it is conducted in a responsible manner. In turn, railroads became some of the biggest advocates for the protection and expansion of National Parks.

Runte’s words are enhanced by the vast collection of historic photographs, paintings and advertisements that appear throughout the book. The advertisements, some from Runte’s own personal collection, illustrate the level of craftsmanship and support went into drawing visitors to the parks. Each advertisement is its own piece of artwork, depicting images such as bears, mountain goats, steam engines and famous locations from within the parks themselves.

With glamorous dining and lounge cars, trains to the National Parks were vacations filled with style. Runte believes that these trains are an important part of our past that could greatly help our parks in the future. Today, most visitors travel to the parks by car. These emissions impact the entire area and ecosystem, not to mention crowding.

To find Trains of Discovery at a bookstore near you, visit