Learn about railroad history straight from the author!
Author and Publisher James J. Reisdorff is now available for speaking engagements.
In addition to his writing and publishing, author and publisher James J. Reisdorff is now offering others the opportunity to hear him speak on a number of railroad history-related topics. Over the years, Jim has spoken on various topics related to railroad history before historical societies, library groups and service organizations across Nebraska and Iowa. He would welcome the opportunity to talk before your group! His speaking fees are reasonable, and his lively programs are illustrated using either power point or posters. Every effort is made to schedule and time programs to the needs of the sponsoring group.
The following are three of the featured topics that Jim has given on a number of occasions before various gatherings. Inquiries are welcome regarding these or other possible railroad-related history topics that Jim can present to your group!
1) The Un-driving of the Golden Spike
This is a fascinating topic for those interested in the history of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Old West. Most everybody has heard of the famous Driving of the Golden Spike, which in May 1869 marked the completion of America’s First Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah. However, did you know there was an "Un-Driving" of the Golden Spike at the same location just 73 years later? Based on the book by the same name that he co-authored, Reisdorff describes how the Golden Spike was "un-driven" and how the world-famous site of Promontory Summit was almost lost to history. Interest in this program will increase as the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Driving of the Golden Spike approaches in May 2019.
2) The Man Who Wrecked Trains for Fun
This program appeals to most everyone’s suppressed desire to witness something destructive! Between 1896 and 1932, Iowa native Joseph S. Connolly staged more than 70 head-on train wrecks before large thrill-seeking audiences at state fairs and other public events nationwide. Known as "Head-On Joe," Connolly boasted that he destroyed 146 old steam locomotives during these collisions and never had anyone injured in the process. Based on the book that he wrote about this man-made calamity, Reisdorff tells about both the career of this professional train wrecker and the techniques that he used to stage a train wreck for public entertainment.
3) Nebraska Railroad Archeology
The haunting whistle of a train is heard no more in many of Nebraska’s smaller towns, and this program looks at where the Iron Horse had once followed its steely path through these communities. Since the late 1970s, Reisdorff has researched what happens after a railroad leaves town. This study of “railroad archeology” is a demonstration of the kind of various structures that a railroad company used in order to serve communities across the state. This program provides examples of the depots, freight buildings, bridges and other facilities left behind in the wake of rail abandonments, but which are now rapidly disappearing as time passes. It serves as a plea for railroad preservation in Nebraska before it’s too late.