Categories
News Tyrone Daily Herald Archives

Local author releases new book on the history of the Horseshoe Curve

Seven Oaks Press announces publication of The Horseshoe Curve: Sabotage and Subversion in the Railroad City, a new book by Dennis P. McIlnay of Hollidaysburg, author of Juniata, River of Sorrows, one of the best-selling regional books in the United States.
The Horseshoe Curve: Sabotage and Subversion in the Railroad City (hardback, 456 pages) tells the true story of the three inter-connected – but little known – events in American history:
• the Nazi plot in World War II to destroy the Horseshoe Curve, the Mecca of American railroading, near Altoona
• the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s search of the homes of 225 Altoonans as “alien enemies” – suspected Nazi sympathizers – on July 1, 1942 as a result of the Nazi sabotage plot against the Horseshoe Curve
• the personal and organizational drama of founding the Pennsylvania Railroad and building the Horseshoe Curve, two of this nation’s most important transportation achievements.
The Nazi plot to destroy the Horseshoe Curve, a mission that Adolf Hitler himself conceived, was one of the world’s deadliest terrorist acts. Had the Nazis succeeded in demolishing the Horseshoe Curve, they could have crippled the American war machine and changed the course of history.
Most people know of the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II, but few people know that this nation also interned 15,000 German and Italian Americans during the war, 75 percent of whom were United States citizens. Even fewer people know that on July 1, 1942, the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the homes of 225 “alien enemies” in Altoona – suspected Nazi sympathizers – in response to discovering the Nazi sabotage plot against the Horseshoe Curve.
Founding the Pennsylvania Railroad and building the Horseshoe Curve are two of America’s greatest transportation achievements. But before the Pennsylvania Railroad was completed, bitter personal, political, and organizational battles threatened to destroy the railroad and halt the westward march of the United States.
Part-spy story and part-historical epic, The Horseshoe Curve: Sabotage and Subversion in the Railroad City blends information from 300 sources, including diaries, biographies, military records, histories, engineering studies, court briefs, and previously unknown FBI files acquired through the Freedom of Information Act.
The Horseshoe Curve: Sabotage and Subversion in the Railroad City has 47 chapters and three parts. Part One, “The Wolf”, is named for Adolf Hitler. Using first-person accounts and files from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Part One describes the planning of the Nazi sabotage mission, recruiting and training the saboteurs, their transport in submarines to Long Island and Florida, their preparations in Manhattan and Chicago, the betrayal of the plot by one of the saboteurs, and the arrest of the terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Part One also covers the military tribunal that convicted the eight saboteurs and two landmark decisions by the United States Supreme Court on the fate of the saboteurs, rulings that are the legal precedents for the imprisonment and trial by military tribunal of today’s Guantanomo detainees. Part One concludes with eyewitness accounts of the execution by electric chair of six of the eight saboteurs.
Part Two, “The Boss”, is named for J. Edgar Hoover, the powerful director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and his involvement with the Alien Enemy Control Unit, one of the most controversial federal programs in the history of the United States. Using files from the Federal Bureau of Investigation acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, Part Two documents the little-known internment of 15,000 German Americans and Italian Americans in the United States during World War II as suspected Nazi sympathizers. Part Two discloses that on July 1, 1942, twenty-five agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 10 officers of the Pennsylvania State Police, and eighteen detectives of the Altoona of the Altoona Police Department searched the homes of 225 “alien enemies” in Altoona who were suspected of being Nazi sympathizers.
Part Three, “The Brain”, is named for J. Edgar Thomson, the third and most prominent president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Part Three discusses the founding of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the building of the Horseshoe Curve, historic achievements that created a statewide transportation system and surmounted the previously-intractable Allegheny Mountains. Part Three also recounts the operation of the failed Pennsylvania Canal, the design and management of the inefficient Allegheny Portage Railroad, and the personal and organizational battles in the earliest days of the Pennsylvania Railroad that led to Thomson’s unlikely rise to the presidency of the company.
The Horseshoe Curve: Sabotage and Subversion in the Railroad City costs $36.99 ($29.95 plus $4.95 for shipping and handling and $2.09 for PA sales tax). The book is available by check payable to Seven Oaks Press, 826 Walnut Street, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648 or by MasterCard and VISA at www.SevenOaksPress.com. Credit card orders can also be made toll-free at (866)695-5960. The book is also available at bookstores, gift shops and museum stores. For more information, phone Seven Oaks Press at (866)695-5960 or (814)472-3095 or email the publisher at Books@SevenOaksPress.com.
Dennis P. McIlnay, author of The Horseshoe Curve: Sabotage and Subversion in the Railroad City, is also author of Juniata, River of Sorrows (2002), the bestselling book in central Pennsylvania for several years and one of the bestselling regional books in the United States. McIlnay will be speaking to organizations about his new book, and to schedule such a talk, contact him at (814)-472-3095 or at Books@SevenOaksPress.com. McIlnay is professor of management at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, near Altoona