Spoiler alert! Read this after you've read The Railroad Magnate.

The Railroad Magnate - Author's Note

For years, I’ve wanted to write about the railroads in Arizona. As I thought about James Colter’s story, I knew from the beginning that I wanted him to be a pivotal part of the railroad. So, I started researching and reading everything I could find about the railroads. His birthdate was set in stone since it was already recorded in the Prescott Pioneer’s Series. I knew I had to pick a railroad that fit with his age in the 1880’s and 1890’s. This was the main motivation in writing his story as book 3, even though he was the firstborn Colter son.

When I discovered the book The Santa Fe, Prescott, and Phoenix Railway: The Scenic Line of Arizona by John W. Sayre, I struck gold. John’s book was a very detailed and well-researched account of the now defunct railroad. He also wrote about the railroad wars between Thomas Bullock’s Central Arizona Railway and the Santa Fe, Prescott, and Phoenix Railway.

James Colter is a figment of my imagination. However, several of the other minor characters related to the railroads were how I imagined some real people may have acted. Thomas Bullock, Frank Murphy, and D.B. Robinson were all real people involved with the railroads in the way I described in this book.

Also, all the dates mentioned about the railroads came straight from Sayre’s book, from the incorporation of the SFP&P on May 25, 1891, to the inaugural trip on April 24, 1893, to the date that D.B. Robinson stepped down as president on October 9, 1893. Bullock’s line ceased operation on October 21, 1893. Had his line continued on, there was a strong likelihood that both lines would have gone under, since Prescott was not large enough to support two railroad lines.

The story about the man who had his arm amputated because it was crushed by a pile driver is true. He was awarded $20,000 by the court which was highly unusual for the time period. The number of employees laid off after the financial crises of 1893 is an estimate based on the number of employees listed as required for construction of the southern part of the line. The actual labor cost of $500 per month was accurate. So was the $8 million capital outlay and the requirement by the A&P to hold 51% of the capital in a fund for investors for five years after the end of construction.

The one historical fact that I took liberty with was the fire in Ash Fork. I came across multiple accounts of a fire in Ash Fork that demolished the entire town. However, I was never able to pin down the exact date. The best I could tell by cross referencing different facts, was that the fire actually took place sometime between August 1893 and December 1893. The station in Ash Fork was not completed until the fall of 1893. The accounts of the fire mentioned the depot burned to the ground, so that is why I’m guessing the real fire was in the later part of the year. I chose to place the fire at the time of the inaugural trip (April 24, 1893) to add tension to the story and amplify James’s feelings for Keri.

I really enjoyed finding ways to incorporate the real-life story of this railway that made a lasting impression on Prescott.

The love story between James and Keri is perhaps my favorite story to date. I am sure you may have been wondering how I was going to wrap up their story when I chose to write their elopement around the two-thirds mark in the book. I really wanted to show an example of a marriage that started out with some obstacles to overcome. I wanted to show how a godly man might handle a huge curve ball from his new, parent-pleasing bride. It also gave me the opportunity to show, yet again, what kind of father Will Colter was.

I also enjoyed writing the relationship between Keri and her father, Alex. When I first developed Alex’s character in Oaks of Justice, I finished the story describing how much Keri was like him. So, in The Railroad Magnate, I pushed that relationship to the limit. I love that Alex loved his firstborn daughter so deeply and that her gender never mattered to him.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed James and Keri’s story. Continue the story with Deacon Colter and Grady Thatcher, in The Resourceful Stockman (Colter Sons Book 4).

Karen Baney