ELKINS - James D. Porterfield, director of the Center for Railway Tourism of Davis & Elkins College, has been awarded an annual Overton Prize, a grant provided by the Lexington Group in Transportation History to initiate research for his next book project. The $2,000 grant is the largest such award presented by the organization.
Porterfield is the author of “Dining by Rail: The History and the Recipes from America's Golden Age of Railroad Cuisine” and of “From the Dining Car: The Recipes and Stories Behind Today's Greatest Rail Dining Experiences.” He also has contributed to or overseen the publication of other books devoted to railroading and is a contributing editor at the monthly publication Railfan & Railroad and the director of the American Society or Railway Artists.
Porterfield's new book, “The Century: Building and Running the World's Greatest Train,” will explore the efforts the New York Central Railroad put into creating the 1938-edition of the 20th Century Limited. Completed during the Great Depression, the Century was the nation’s first all-room, first-class New York-Chicago passenger train.
"That train, with its iconic Art Deco Henry Dreyfus design, its 18-hour overnight schedule, and its staff of 50 to serve 125 riders, represents the peak of American rail passenger service," Porterfield says.
The book will detail the various ways the train’s operation affected the communities along its route. It takes into account the workers and companies – from the timber industry that supplied the ties to the confectioner that provided the sugar cubes in the dining car – that made it possible.
The Center for Railway Tourism of Davis & Elkins College is a component of the management program within the Division of Business & Entrepreneurship. The Center enables students to earn the credentials and experience necessary to undertake and succeed at a career in railway heritage and tourism management.
The Overton Prize is awarded by the Richard C. Overton Research Fellowship, a component of the Lexington Group in Transportation History. Established in 2006, the prize honors one of the Lexington Group's founders, himself a leading scholar of America's railroads. Intended to promote the study of transportation history, the Overton Fellowship provides grants to underwrite travel expenses incurred while conducting research at archives and libraries.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.