The riveting story of a lost way of life along a great southern railroad
By Howard Bahr
Winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Fiction Award (2009)
Early on the morning of Christmas Eve, 1940, Artemus Kane leaves his sweetheart's New Orleans flat to catch the northbound Silver Star, a first-class passenger train on the Southern Railway. Artemus, a brakeman, will help bring the train to Meridian, Mississippi, a 180-mile journey along what the railroad men call "Pelican Road. " Meanwhile, in the Meridian yard, conductor Frank Smith awakes in his caboose. A few hours later, Smith will take charge of a fast freight train southbound for the Crescent City.
Smith and Kane, who served together in the Marine Corps during World War I, are old comrades. Their friendship flourishes amid the community of railroad men who work along Pelican Road--a brotherhood whose lives are spent among the lights and shadows, the danger and humor and violence, and the loneliness and camaraderie of railroad work. On this Christmas Eve, however, Smith and Kane are each bound on a journey that will alter their lives forever.