West Virginia University Press is publishing Over the Alleghenies: Early Canals and Railroads of Pennsylvania by Robert J. Kapsch, the former Chief of Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record.

Sam Tamburro, the National Park Service historian at the Intermountain Regional Office, describes Over the Alleghenies as “Extremely well researched, crisply written, and richly illustrated.”

Lance Metz, emeritus historian of the National Canal Museum calls this book “A monument to Kapsch’s wide knowledge of early American engineering.”

Between 1826 and 1858 the state of Pennsylvania built and operated the largest and most technologically advanced system of canals and railroads in North America – almost 1,000 miles of transport that stretched from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and beyond.

The construction of this ambitious transportation system was accompanied by great euphoria. It was widely believed that the revenue created from these canals and railroads would eliminate the need for all taxes on state citizens. Yet with the Panic of 1837, a financial crisis much like the boom and bust cycle that ended in 2008, a deep recession fell across the country. By 1858, Pennsylvania had sold all canals and railroads to private companies, often for pennies on the dollar.

Over the Alleghenies: Early Canals and Railroads of Pennsylvania is the definitive history of the state of Pennsylvania’s incredible canal and railroad system. Although often condemned as a colossal failure, this construction effort remains an innovative, magnificent feat that ushered in modern transportation to Pennsylvania and the entire country. With extensive primary research, more than 100 illustrations, newspapers clippings, and charts and graphs, Over the Alleghenies examines and dissects the infrastructure project that bankrupted the wealthiest state in the Union.

Kapsch, PhD, Hon. AIA, ASCE, holds doctorates in American studies, engineering, and architecture, as well as master’s degrees in historic preservation and management. Kapsch spent 15 years as the Chief of Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, the U.S. government’s premier documentation program, and has served as project engineer for numerous historic restoration and rehabilitation projects along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and other parks.

Following this successful career as a historic architect and engineer for the National Park Service, Kapsch began a second career as an author, penning several books and articles on historic architecture and engineering, including The Potomac Canal: George Washington and the Waterway West, Historic Canals and Waterways of South Carolina, and CANALS, the Norton/Library of Congress Visual Sourcebook in Architecture, Design and Engineering.

To purchase this book, visit wvupress.com, phone (800) 621-2736, or visit a local bookstore.

Over the Alleghenies: Early Canals and Railroads of Pennsylvania
Robert J. Kapsch
November 2013/376pp/134 maps & line art images
PB 978-1-933202-69-3: $39.99



CONTACT: Abby Freeland, Marketing Manager, WVU Press
304-293-8400, abby.freeland@mail.wvu.edu

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