Trains At Work {Free eBook}

Trains at Work by Mary Elting is a delightful picture book that introduces youngsters to the world of trains.

Sam is the fireman on a big freight locomotive. Like lots of people who work on trains, Sam belongs to a family of railroaders. His father was a locomotive engineer. His grandfather was one, too. And, long ago, grandmother was an “op.” That means she operated the fast-clicking telegraph key in a railroad station. Her telegraph messages helped to keep the trains running safely and on time.

When Sam was a little boy, he listened to his father and grandfather talking railroad talk. They used all kinds of words that ordinary people didn’t understand. They had wonderful nicknames for each other, and slang words for many of the things they did.

And that is part of what young readers will learn — the vocabulary of trains.

Trains At Work {Free eBook}

For instance, grandfather called his big locomotive a hog. Since he ran it, he was the hogger. After every trip, he brought his engine to the roundhouse, where men cleaned it and fixed it all up. Pig-pen was one nickname for the roundhouse. Can you figure out why? Another nickname was barn, because people often called a locomotive an Iron Horse. The barn had stalls for the engines. A modern roundhouse does, too.

After a run-through describing Sam the Fireman’s day, the book describes:

  • How trains are routed.
  • Different types of locomotives.
  • Hot boxes.
  • Greenball freight.
  • Moving things to market.
  • Hoppers and gondolas.
  • Grain cars.
  • Tressels and tunnels.
  • The Captain (or conductor).
  • Sleeping cars.
  • Narrow gauge trains.
  • Train tracks.
  • Train history.

This 90-page introduction is surprisingly detailed with occasional inline illustrations to explain concepts or signals. Of course, the book is a bit dated. That’s OK. It will have them asking for more!

Free eBook

Additional Resources

Trains Unit Study {Free}
Trains at Work is a perfect addition to this free unit from Steward Ship Unit Studies. You’ll also find lots of recommended resources that will go well with the book.

The Steam Locomotive: A Unit Study

The Steam Locomotive: A Unit Study
A look at the beginning of trains.

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