Cover of: The journal of Sean Sullivan | William Durbin

The journal of Sean Sullivan

a Transcontinental Railroad worker : Nebraska and points west, 1867

1st ed.

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Published by Scholastic in New York .
Written in English.

About the Book

When fifteen-year old Sean goes to join his father in Nebraska to work on the Union Pacific railroad line he has all sorts of ideas of what it is going to be like. The reality is quite different. For one thing the living conditions are primitive. Sean, his father and a friend share a tent whenever possible for the sleeping carriages that are provided for the workers on the railroad are dark, noisy and foul smelling. The food is also pretty bad and the way in which food is served is even worse. Then there is the violence that can break out at any time in the towns that spring up along the path of the new railway. These “hell-on-wheels” towns are short-lived and Sean knows better than to venture into them. He may end up getting shot, the fate of so many of the railroad workers.

Sean begins by being a water boy which is a big come down for him but his father insists that Sean needs to work his way up through the ranks. So Sean hauls water, he helps to cut up the meat for the meals, he swabs off the dining tables (and the plates that are nailed to the table tops), he shoots snakes on the line, and finally he helps put down track.

This fascinating book not only tells us Sean’s story but it also touches on many issues that were very important in the late 1800’s. Sean writes about the way in which the “Indians” and Chinese workers are treated, and how men who were once enemies in the Civil War are now working side by side. He shows us how important this railway was and how its completion was cause for great celebration all over the country. He also shows us how corrupt the business side of the railroad building project was with the bosses making huge sums of money and the railroad itself being laid way too fast to be safe. By incorporating these details into Sean’s narrative the author gives us a colourful and lively picture of what American life was like at that time.

About the Edition

In 1867, fifteen-year-old Sean experiences both hardships and rewards when he joins his father in working on the building of the Transcontinental Rairoad.

Edition Notes


My name is America
Juvenile fiction

The Physical Object

188 p. cm.
Number of pages

ID Numbers

Open Library
Internet Archive
LC Control Number
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October 20, 2011 Edited by ImportBot import new book
August 12, 2011 Edited by ImportBot import new book
August 19, 2010 Edited by IdentifierBot added LibraryThing ID
April 16, 2010 Edited by bgimpertBot Added goodreads ID.
May 29, 2009 Created by ImportBot Initial record created, from Collingswood Public Library MARC record.