Wednesday, March 19, 2008
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.