History and a holiday celebrated in Christmas train book

Gary Brown

The spirit of the season and love for the history of passenger trains is brought forth in a book by James E. Kaserman and Sarah Jane Kaserman.

“Tales from Christmas Trains: 1830-2030” was published last year by the Kasermans. Christmas is a time when we remember the past, the authors noted in their introduction, and “reflecting about the past seasons unearths the root beginnings of our positive and sometimes negative memories.”

“The Christmas season is where reunion and love mesh in the present,” they wrote. “It has been about the birth of hope for the future.”

The Kasermans’ book celebrates the legacy of the American railway, as well as a family’s love — providing tales centered around an historic event.

“In our book, we follow a fictional family of railcar magnates, the Kanes, in a chronological overview of their significant Christmases,” wrote the Kasermans in their introduction. “Our tales unfold against a backdrop of railroad history.

“Passenger trains have been an integral part of our nation’s past and present and they may well be more important as a thread in future family celebrations of the Christmas season,” explained the authors. “Few people know that the first passenger train in the United States made its inaugural run on Christmas Day 1830.”

That first regularly scheduled passenger train, the “Best Friend of Charleston,” completed a six-mile circuit of Charleston, S.C. The book follows the Kanes from that inaugural trip to a speculative trip 200 years later.

“Throughout the years, the family and, indeed, the United States, will have heartache, failure, and success,” a review on notes, and all the tales give a revealing glimpse at the growth of railroads.

Before 1830, the authors explain, “travel options were few and the infrastructure was limited to rivers, canals, and a sparse network of roads.”

The era of the railroad changed travel plans from being dictated by the rising of the sun and weather conditions to being made to match train schedules, note the Kasermans. The emergence of the “iron horse” caused mammoth construction projects — bridges, tunnels, viaducts and roadways — to be undertaken. Communication devices needed for the railroad to operate expanded technology.

“The architecture of stations and railroad building of that time are still admired today,” wrote the authors.

While the “tales” and the characters who lived them are products of the authors’ imaginations, they stress that the references to historical events, people, places and companies are accurate.

“This historical fiction hopes to enlighten you as to the importance of railroads in our lives,” wrote the authors. “ ‘All aboard!’ ” they call. “You are invited to take a journey aboard our Christmas trains.”

The Kasermans also are the authors of “How the Pirates Saved Christmas.”

Canton Repository


TITLE “Tales From Christmas Trains: 1830-2030”

AUTHORS James F. Kaserman and Sarah Jane Kaserman

PUBLISHER BookSurge Publishing

PRICE $14.99 on

ISBN 978-1439201961

DETAILS “Fascinating and filled with good cheer,” one online reviewer wrote, “and a fitting tribute to the history of the railroad and the spirit of Christmas.” The book is available through bookstores and online booksellers.