Two Track Main by John William Baie

Two Track Main by John William Baie

By Susan Johnson, Copy Editor

(119 pages, available from author, Xlibris Corporation and The Tin Whistle, price $19.95)

Ed Tully’s life is on a collision course with time. He’s got two wives, one in his hometown of Clinton, Ill., and one in Rockford, at the northern end of his railroad run. What’s more, his career is on the skids, as the steam locomotives he drives as an engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad, are being phased out by the newer, more efficient diesels.

Author John Baie, a Rockford native now living in Troy, Ohio, combines fact and fiction in a yarn that immediately engages our interest. He spins a tale of human passion and dreams, deceit and danger, an old order giving way to the new. As the promo on the book says, “Two Track Main is a truly unique story about people caught up in the mid-Twentieth Century change from steam to diesel locomotives on American railroads. This fast-paced, action-packed novel brings this remarkable transition to life through various characters who respond differently to change.”

In a concise, quick-moving story, we ride the rails with the crews of two major railroad lines-the Illinois Central and the Great Western. Along the way, we get a fascinating look at the history of the region. Baie includes names of actual places and products that help bring the story to life. One could stop in a bar and order a stein of the local Petritz Beer, sold in Rockford. People could see a movie at the Coronado and eat dinner at Schrom’s, a popular downtown restaurant. A guy looking for a frolic with the ladies of the evening might take a streetcar up to West State Street.

We learn about the mechanics of steam locomotive maintenance, the importance of the signal men, and the duties of the men at Murtaugh Roundhouse. In a changing industry, who’s going to lose their jobs, and who will have a chance to bid on new openings?

John Baie will have a book signing from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7 at The Tin Whistle, 1414 N. Main St., where you can meet the author and perhaps reminisce about some Rockford history. Two Track Main may also be ordered from Xlibris Corporation, 1-888-795-4274 or It may be ordered online at Orders!

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