Running Special by Frank L. Packard

Running Special by Frank Packard

Running Special by Frank Packard

Packard, Frank L. Running Special. Toronto: The Copp, Clark Co., Limited. 1925, pp. 304.

This is Packard’s 17th book and the 4th and final collection of railroad stories.  It contains 10 stories of which only 4 are new.  The previous 6 had been published in On the Iron at Big Cloud.  All of the stories first appeared in the pulps.

1. The Builder. reprint from On the Iron at Big Cloud.

2. The Guardian of the Devil’s Slide. reprint from On the Iron at Big Cloud.

3. Corrigan’s Best.  Popular Magazine 1913 Feb 1
The one-legged engineer Corrigan is hated by Smithers, the marshal.  During a fight Corrigan makes a great personal sacrifice to keep Smithers from being killed.

4. The Hobo. Popular Magazine 1915 Feb 7
Bert Prouth, the hobo, tries to make good and put his past behind him but is persecuted by a brutish Joe Scharff.

5. Shanley’s Luck. reprint from On the Iron at Big Cloud.

6. Marley. reprint from On the Iron at Big Cloud.

7. “It Doesn’t Matter”. People’s Favourite Magazine 1919 Sept
Spud MacGallaghan has the same shiftless, slack attitude that his father has.  He gets a chance to show his worth, if he can prevent a train wreck.

8. Spitzer. reprint from On the Iron at Big Cloud.

9. The Man Who Confessed. Magazine printing unknown. c1920
Bartholomew “Barth” McClung is trying to make a go of it.  Everyone but Dawes likes him.  Dawes works towards Barth’s destruction and finds something in his past that will do it.  Riley, the trainmaster and a re-occurring character, dies in a train wreck.  Probably the last railroad story that Packard wrote.

10. The Blood of Kings. reprint from On the Iron at Big Cloud.

The Hobo, Popular Magazine 7 Feb. 1915

The Hobo, Popular Magazine 7 Feb. 1915

Hill Division is still a dangerous place.  The bad make good and die for it, their conscience clean.  The good who appear to be bad escape with only serious injuries.  The shiftless get a chance to shift themselves.  Everyone seems to be poor and ground down by hard work.  If you get sick or injured you don’t work.  If you don’t work you don’t get paid and now you also have to pay the doctor, on top of everything else.

Inexpensive copies of the various editions are available on line for purchase.  No online text version has been found.  POD versions are also absent.  I guess because no one else has produced an electronic version that they can swipe.

Most of Packard’s railroad short stories were reprinted in his three story collections: On the Iron at Big Cloud, The Night Operator and Running Special.  Some of the Hill Division stories remain uncollected, available only in hard to find pulp magazines. 29 railroad short stories have been collected into books.  There were at least 34 published in the pulps. (The exact number is unclear as some were reprinted under different names and I haven’t actually seen all of the magazines.)

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