A New History of Livermore examines the city’s development parallel to the complex story of railroad development in California and across America
The title of the history written by Alan Frank is “Parallel Paths”. It is on sale through the Livermore Heritage Guild.
It is in some ways a sequel to Frank’s “Depot”, published 3 years earlier, which focused more narrowly on local rail history as part of the development of rail on a national scale.
Almost as soon as “Depot” was published, Frank began to receive new information that suggested the need for a second book.
Frank said in an interview, the new book is “more about the history of Livermore and how the railroads interacted with Livermore, not about the history of the railroads.”
His research was aided by the increasing availability of historical newspapers, maps and graphics as online reference materials. It included, “A lot of historical newspapers actually, by extension, I mean, actual images of pages and excerpts.”
He explained that “What I tried to do is put together a coherent history of both Livermore and the railroad and how it evolved to Livermore and how the city of Livermore initially developed around the railroad. And then from World War I.” Even before, they went separate ways.”
At just under 200 pages, the book is highly referenced and includes historical maps, artist’s renderings, and other graphics.
Topics range from the development of rail technology in the 1800s to modern controversies over Northern California railroads and Livermore grade crossings.
“Most people don’t know that there was all kinds of competition to get the railroad through Livermore,” he said.
Frank is a retired physicist and a serious amateur historian whose lifelong interest in trains began in New York City, where as a child in the 1940s he saw the New York Central Railway’s 20th Century Limited Pass near his home.
Although his career at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was in the sciences, he said that he thinks of himself first as a musician and as a physicist.
He plays string bass for the Livermore Symphony and flute for the Pleasanton band. He recently retired as president of the Livermore Symphony,
He will speak about Livermore and Railroad history and his new book at the Civic Center Library next Wednesday, July 27 at 7 p.m. This talk is sponsored by the Heritage Guild. Attendance is free and registration is not required.