Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ranger Jim

Now, here's a guy who follows his dreams. When Ranger Jim sets his sites on the mountaintop, he climbs them...literally. Jim has spent the better portion of his life seeking out and climbing to the highest point in every state. Additionally, he has climbed the highest mountain on every continent in the world, except Antarctica. He is planning to achieve that goal this fall...by climbing Mount Vinson for his eightieth birthday. But his travels don't take him to the mountains only on off-season holidays. For the past forty years, Ranger Jim has served as a seasonal ranger-naturalist in sixteen of our national parks. I've also heard tales of the Taj Mahal, climbing to the tops of the great Pyramids of Egypt (and promptly getting fined when he came back down!) , traveling the Trans-Siberian Railroad and walking the Great Wall of China. But for all the tales of world travel, Ranger Jim's local roots run deep into Chester County soil. Generations of his family have lived in this area. Jim's father was a railroad engineer who gifted Jim with a life long fascination with trains and the rails. Another of Jim's dreams has been fulfilled recently with the completion of his self-published book "Sowbelly Railroad". The Sowbelly was a short line RR that ran right through this township in the 1890's. It took twenty years in the building, but only ran four years before advances in technology caused it to become obsolete. It's history was fleeting but incredibly important to this area. Jim has tirelessly gathered historic documentation and photographs for this book for many years. Last night, Jim stopped by to deliver a personally autographed copy of the book. I am thrilled to finally have one in my hands. The first edition printing of thirty copies sold out before I got one. He took a 'risk' and ran a second printing...thirty more. You won't find it on Amazon or in Barnes and Noble. But he's got a box full in the back of his car if you're interested. Sometimes it pays (in unimagineable ways) to go directly to the source for your purchase. When the final mountain has been conquered, Jim plans to work on a book about his travels. I can't wait to read that one.

8 comments:

Frank Blank in Brooklyn said...

Wow, he climbed Mt Everest? Thats some story there Schweschder. How much is the book?

Susan said...

Well,Ranger Jim did 'do Everest', but only to the level that they allow without charging for the ghastly permits and red tape. He didn't make it to the 'death zone' as he call it.
The Sowbelly RR Book is $20. That travel book will be priceless!

kansasrose said...

This is one awesome dude. What a fascinating life well lived and man!

Todd said...

I've been fascinated with the Sowbelly line since I first read about it WAY back in seventh grade. I saw Jim give a lecture on Sowbelly a few years back at a Springford Historical Society meeting. At the time he mentioned a book in the works. I have to have it! Where can I find it?

Susan said...

There a few places in the area that have them...I was wrong about the price though. I think they are $28.
I will call Jim and get some specifics for you. Are you local to South Coventry township? I know that the barn antique shop at RT 100 and Pughtown Road carries it. They are only open on the weekends though.

Todd said...

I live in Pottstown, but I grew up in South Coventry and I know the antique shop in Pughtown. I'll keep an eye on the blog here. Thank you so much for the quick reply...

Jason said...

I wrote a song about Ranger Jim, but haven't recorded it yet

Susan said...

PLEASE let me know when you do....I'd love to hear it!!

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