History: Windows to the World – Tom Macaulay book collection
Recently published was an article about Tom Macaulay’s map collection. Also donated to the Truckee-Donner Historical Society in 2021 is Macaulay’s massive book and reports collection which includes almost 150 books, 63 of which are new to the collection. Of these “new” books there are some irreplaceable, no longer available, books that are invaluable in researching Truckee history.
Macauley explored every aspect of ice from the land where it was grown, usages, ice transportation, tools and equipment for harvesting, and the people and animals that made it happen. The impact of ice harvesting on Western Civilization still prevails today – even after mechanical ice making became a standard. Macaulay was always on a quest for knowledge.
Some of the oldest books and reports Macaulay donated to the Historical Society date to more than a century ago. One of these special reports is a 1902 U.S. Government Department of the Interior Water-supply and Irrigation Papers of the USGS no. 68. The next oldest reports are from 1918. The first 1918 report is a State of Nevada Mines and Mineral Resources of Nevada County, Chapter of State Mineralogists’ Report Biennial Period 1917-1918.
The second 1918 report is one of the most complete and details the feasibility of a sanitary cleanup of the Truckee River. This report was issued by C.G. Gillespie to the California State Board of Health. The title is Progress Report to the California State Board of Health on the Feasibility of a Clean-up of the Truckee River. Part II covers the pollution of the Truckee River by the mills of the Crown Willamette Paper Co. at Floriston, CA. There are some spectacular photographs that accompany this report as well as a map showing the drainage area of the Truckee River between Lake Tahoe and Reno. Macaulay considered this to be one of the most important documents in his collection.
The titles and subject matter of some of the priceless books include:
- John Signor’s 1985 book, Donner Pass: Southern Pacific’s Sierra Crossing. There is a photo in this book of a train crossing over the railroad track over now Highway 89 at the “mousehole”. It is a very impressive image.
- Lynne Rhodes Mayer and Ken Vose’s 1985 book, Makin’ Tracks: the Saga of the Transcontinental Railroad. There are some excellent images from the American Geographical Society, the Association of American Railroads (Chinese workers on train tracks), Library of Congress, National Archives, Southern Pacific Railroad, Alfred Hart photos (early Truckee, the Dutch Flat-Donner Lake Wagon Road, and a Chinese camp and construction train in Nevada), and Union Pacific Railroad (many involving Chinese workers in images not seen before).
- Jack E. Duncan’s 2005 book, A study of Cape Horn construction on the Central Pacific Railroad 1865-1866.
- Howard Goldbaum and Wendell W. Huffman’s 2012 book, Waiting for the Cars: Alfred A. Hart’s Stereoscopic Views of the Central Pacific Railroad, 1863-1869. Hart’s images are incredibly detailed.
The last book we’d like to mention is a 1994 book billed as a “cookbook” but the title, Harvest of the Cold Months: the Social History of Ice and Ices, surely seems to be an oxymoron.
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