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Railway Literature

Railway Literature image
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The greatest rivalry among railroad men is in the getting out of guide books. Several years ago a rich southern railroad published a lnxunously gotten np book as handsome as almost any example of a rich edition of Shakespeare that men and women display upon a parlor center table. It was thought then that the limit of enterprise and expenditnre had been reached, and that there never woald be anything finer bearing the imprint of a general passenger office. But that elegant volume is almost forgotten now. lts defects were that its pictures wete ready made, and represented a low grade of art, while the letter press, or reading matter, was the work of the general passenger agent - a clever man but not a professional writer. Today no such pictures and no snch writing is accepted for a represen tati ve guide book. A school of artista has grown np to meet the demand for such work, and they are salaried by the big printing and bank note engraving companies that get out these booka. They produce careful, artistic and clever pictures, and manage to give them the appearance of the choicest pictures in the magazine. As a matter of f act, the latest guide books are imitations of the magazine in every particular except that they inclade no advertising pages. But the more wealthy railroads will not employ theso professional guide book illustrators. They secure high class artists who are too independent to sign their names fco what they do, but provide the best work of which they are capable, because they are better paid for it than for any other work that they do. BIG PBICES PAID FOR WORK. Men who study such matters are able . to recognize the personality of the arttsts in their methods of drawing, and Buch persons often see a painting or a study of a picturesque place in one of the art galleries or at an art sale at the Bame time that they receive a copy of Borne guide book illustrating other beauty spots' in the same región in a set of drawings by the very same artist, who has been whirled hither and thither in that part of the country in a special car at the expense of the railroad company that monopolizes the traffic In that same car with the artist goes the general passenger agent, but he no longerwrites the matter in the book. He has secured the services of some well known literary man of the second or third class to describe the región with his pen for a hither rate of remuneration than the vriter could get for any other work. Two thousand dollars is below the highest price that has been paid for the ülustrations in a single gmde book, and in all probabiüty no ñrst class book of the kind has been written for less than $500. These books have been poured from me presses or ine Dest pnnters ín tne country in editions of froni 5,000 to 10,000 copies, and have cost the railroads Erom five to twenty cents a copy. Some are designed to appear like novéis, some like stories of adventure and some like books of traveL Their titles are such as are likély to prove attractive to large bodies of citizens. Not to quote any one of them, but to Bhow what sort of bait they throw to the public, they may be said to be named [n some such way as these: "Where to Camp Out," "Where to Go This Summer," "Three Days and a Thousand Trout," "Hunting the Mountain Goat," "Pure Air and Balsam Pines," "Country Board," "Cheaper Than Staying Home." One enterprising western raüroad man has issued a litüe book on etchings, ei[juisitely printed, and made to close up nto a lárge envelope tied with a satin bow knot. SOME NOTABLE PECULUMTIES. Some of the very best map making that has been done in this country has grown out of the competition in guide books. Just at present the rage is for bird's eye, views, however, and these are cleverly made to show every hill and Btream and village and patch of forest ín vast areas of country. They all omit every indication of marsh land, and all are printed with green ink, in order to produce the most astonishing effects of universal greenery, shade and coolness. It is a noticeable characteristic oL all them that they show only one railroad, never any inora No guide book published exhibita Chicago aa accessible by more than one railroad, and enormous tracts like North Dakota and Utah are made to appear to depend upon a single line of rails for their means of internal traffic. In such maps raüroads seem to reach a degree of perfecüon that is not noticed by those who travel most upon them. For instance, they are always straight, ürect lines from point to point, precisely like the great highway that Nicholas tnaxked down upon the map of Russia nith a pencü and a ruler in order to show his engineers how he would conaect Moscow with St. Petersburg. Not even the Rocky mountains are able to binder the absolutely straightforward course of any railroad. On the maps the line of the tracks goes straight along past the mountains as if they were mere ruts in a wheat field. The reading matter in the guide books shows that each railroad avoids mosquitoes and marial regions with the same success, Where there are no mosquitoes the vvriters say so, and where they are as thick as peas in a pod the most dignified BÜence is maintained with regard to them. But there one sees how greatly competition bas elevated this class of literature, for only a few years ago these books were as unreliable as the old Eashioned circus posters. They do not lie today. The next thing will be that Ihey will teil the truth. - New York Sun,