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The story of Chicago is often likened to that of a phoenix rising out of the ashes of the Great Fire. Yet that infamous event was only part of the destruction that has shaped Chicago's identity. Discover here the larger narrative of calamities that have befallen the Windy City, such as the 1954 killer water surge that swept in on a calm summer day, the 1967 tornado that ripped through rush hour traffic, the 1886 Haymarket Square riot that put Chicago on the anarchist map and many other acts of nature and human folly. As you witness a fireproof theater burn, a flood rise up without rain and one of the greatest maritime disasters occur within city limits, encounter both unexpected tragedies and unlikely heroes.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, Galveston was a beacon of opportunity on the Texas Gulf Coast. Dubbed the "Wall Street of the Southwest," its laissez-faire reputation called those hungry for success to its shores. Led by brothers Salvatore and Rosario at the height of Prohibition, the Maceo family answered that call and changed the Oleander City forever. They built an island empire of gambling, smuggling and prostitution that lasted three decades. Housed in their nightclubs frequented by stars like Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington, they endeared themselves to their Galveston neighbors by sharing their profits, imitating crime syndicates in their native Sicily. Though certainly no saints, the Maceos helped bring prosperity to a community weary from a century of turmoil. Discover the history of Galveston's famous crime family with authors Nicole Boatman, Dr. Scott Belshaw and Texas historian Richard McCaslin.
In the early 1920s, when T.W. House Jr., A.C. Guthrie, and Thomas Ball came to the conclusion that Houston needed a new country club, complete with an 18-hole golf course, they formed Country Club Estates. They chose to build on land called the House tract just west of downtown. Very quickly, 300 memberships were sold, with each including one share of stock in the company. Within a year, Will and Mike Hogg, along with Hugh Potter, recognized this as a perfect idea for the bustling city of Houston. They purchased 1,100 acres, eventually creating the River Oaks Corporation. Images of America: Houston's River Oaks takes the reader from 1923 to 1970 and tells the story of one of the most carefully planned subdivisions in America. Today, River Oaks is known as an enviable place to call home. The careful planning undertaken by these Houstonians 90 years ago produced results of unmatched beauty and a quality of life still enjoyed today.
On June 23, 1900, the Southern Railroad Company's Engine #7 and its passengers were greeted by a tremendous storm en route to Atlanta, Georgia. Stalled for some time in nearby McDonough, travelers grew impatient as rain pelted the roof and wind buffeted the cars. When finally given the go-ahead, their resulting joy was short-lived: the locomotive soon reached Camp Creek--and disaster. After weeks of constant showers, the swollen creek had eroded the bridge supports. Under the train's weight, the bridge collapsed, and all but nine perished in either the fiery fall or watery depths. With the help of local newspapers and eyewitness accounts, Georgia historian and professor Jeffery C. Wells recounts this tragic tale.
In 1924, Edward Lilo Crain platted Southside Place, a 329-lot subdivision on the soggy prairie just west of bustling downtown Houston. Ahead of his time, Crain combined the roles of real estate investor, developer, and builder, establishing Southside Place with prefabricated catalog homes. The neighborhood's most defining attribute, however, is the 1.5-acre park Crain created as its geographic and civic center. This thoughtful early attempt at city planning made Southside Place the first Houston subdivision to provide a swimming pool, tennis court, clubhouse, and park for the private use of residents.
At 11:37 p.m. on August 17, 1959, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake rocked Montana's Yellowstone country. In an instant, an entire mountainside fractured and thundered down onto the sites of unsuspecting campers. The mammoth avalanche generated hurricane-force winds ahead of it that ripped clothing from backs and heaved tidal waves in both directions of the Madison River Canyon. More than two hundred vacationers trapped in the canyon feared the dam upstream would burst. As debris and flooding overwhelmed the river, injured victims frantically searched the darkness for friends and family. Acclaimed historian Larry Morris tells the gripping minute-by-minute saga of the survivors who endured the interminable night, the first responders who risked their lives and the families who waited days and weeks for word of their missing loved ones.
With Fast Mail train No. 97 an hour behind schedule, locomotive engineer Steve Broady, according to legend, swore to "put her in Spencer on time" or "put her in Hell." Through eyewitness reports and court testimonies, historian Larry Aaron expertly pieces together the events of September 27, 1903, at Danville, Virginia, when the Old 97 plummeted off a forty-five-foot trestle into the ravine below. With more twists and turns than the railroad tracks on which the Old 97 ran, this book chronicles the story of one of the most famous train wrecks in American history, as well as the controversy surrounding "The Wreck of the Old 97," that most famous ballad, which secured the Old 97 a place within the annals of American folklore.
Beginning in the 1950s, department stores around the Commonwealth teamed up with rail lines to create a magical Christmas adventure: the Santa Train. Delight-filled children from Richmond and Alexandria to Roanoke flocked to see and ride the trains sponsored by Miller & Rhoads, Cox's Department Store, J.C. Penney and many others. These majestic trains rode the rails across Virginia with old Saint Nick himself. Join railroad author Doug Riddell and former Miller & Rhoads Snow Queen Donna Strother Deekens as they recount heartwarming memories of Christmases past and chronicle the history of Virginia's Kris Kringle trains.