History: Windows to the World – Tom Macaulay Book Collection

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Lake Tahoe Railway & Transportation Co. rail line dumps logs into Truckee Pond. The South Pacific Main Line appears in the background. From The Swayne Lumber Co. Narrow Gauge Logging in the Merrimac Forest by Paul Beckstrom and David W. Braum, 1992, p. 12. (Attributed to the Russ Simpson Collection).
Truckee-Donner Historical Society

An article about Tom Macaulay’s card collection was recently published. Macaulay’s massive collection of books and reports, which includes nearly 150 books, 63 of which are new to the collection, was also donated to the Truckee-Donner Historical Society in 2021. Among these “new” books are irreplaceable books, no longer available, that are invaluable to researching Truckee history.

Ohn Signor’s 19895 book Donner Pass, Southern Pacific Sierra Crossing says this image was taken in 1902, of the Overland Limited, slamming across the Cold Stream Bridge just west of Truckee. Highway 89 between I-80 and Lake Tahoe now crosses this draw. This is where the “mousehole” is on 89 just past CVS and Starbucks, towards Squaw.
Truckee-Donner Historical Society

Macauley explored all aspects of ice from the land where it was grown, the uses, transportation of ice, harvesting tools and equipment, and the people and animals that made it possible. The impact of ice harvesting on Western civilization still prevails today – even after mechanical ice making became the norm. Macaulay has always been on a quest for knowledge.

Some of the oldest books and reports Macaulay donated to the Historical Society date back over a century. One of these special reports is a 1902 US Government Department of the Interior Water-supply and Irrigation Papers of the USGS no. 68. The following oldest reports date from 1918. The first report from 1918 is a State of Nevada Mines and Mineral Resources of Nevada County, Chapter of State Mineralogists’ Report Biennial Period 1917-1918.



The second report from 1918 is one of the most comprehensive and details the feasibility of a sanitary cleanup of the Truckee River. This report was submitted by CG 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 Truckee River cleanup. Part II covers pollution of the Truckee River by Crown Willamette Paper Co. mills in Floriston, California. There are some spectacular photographs accompanying this report as well as a map showing the Truckee River drainage area between Lake Tahoe and Reno. Macaulay considered it to be one of the most important documents in his collection.

Lake Tahoe Railway & Transportation Co. rail line dumps logs into Truckee Pond. The South Pacific Main Line appears in the background. From The Swayne Lumber Co. Narrow Gauge Logging in the Merrimac Forest by Paul Beckstrom and David W. Braum, 1992, p. 12. (Attributed to the Russ Simpson Collection).
Truckee-Donner Historical Society

The titles and subject matter of some of the invaluable books include:



  • John Signor’s 1985 book, Donner Pass: Crossing the Sierra in the South Pacific. There is a photo in this book of a train crossing the railroad tracks on now Highway 89 at the “mousehole”. It is a very impressive image.
  • The 1985 book by Lynne Rhodes Mayer and Ken Vose, Makin’ Tracks: the saga of the transcontinental railway. There are excellent images from the American Geographical Society, Association of American Railroads, Library of Congress, National Archives, Southern Pacific Railroad, Alfred Hart photos (at the start of Truckee, from 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 never-before-seen footage).
  • Jack E. Duncan’s 2005 book, A Study of the Construction of Cape Horn on the Central Pacific Railroad 1865-1866.
  • The 2012 book by Howard Goldbaum and Wendell W. Huffman, Waiting for the Carriages: Alfred A. Hart’s Stereoscopic Views of the Central Pacific Railroad, 1863-1869. Hart’s images are incredibly detailed.

The last book we would like to mention is a 1994 book billed as a “cookbook” but the title, Harvesting Cold Months: The Social History of Ice Cream and Ice Creamsurely seems like an oxymoron.

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