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THE IRON HORSE
Author: Ronald M. Gamboa
Genre: Historical novel
Registry #: nov021
 

The novel traces the lives of two men from different parts of America's heartland in search of opportunity in southern California. Unable to find suitable employment they enlist in the armed forces after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. When the war ends they settle in the farming and agriculture community of Santa Paula, California where they meet and marry Hispanic sisters from a very large Mexican-American family. Because of cultural differences what follows is an amusing and sometimes poignant series of events that continues throughout their lives and into old age long after the passing of their wives when one of the men, Herman Ragsdale meets the other, Mac Issac, fishing alone and is talked into stealing one of the country's oldest and most famous operational steam locomotives for one final hurrah and a ride crazily across the treacherous Tehachapi's, the famous Mojave Desert and down the El Cajon pass to the Los Angeles basin below before finally succumbing to their foolishness; hence the adage "there is no fool like an old fool."

The novel is inspired by Ron Gamboa's two uncles, his mother's family including six sisters and five brothers; and the history of the railroad in America and its equipment. More importantly it pays tribute to the men and women who lost their lives when a runaway freight train lost its brakes in the Cajon Pass, crashed and killed the operators and several people on the outskirts of the city of San Bernardino, California in 1986.

 

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