Another survival story relying heavily on the railroad is the narrative of the orphan trains in this country between 1850 and 1930, carrying thousands of destitute children from the unforgiving cities in the East to what was hoped would be the more nurturing farmlands in the Midwest. This narrative unfolds both a public and private history affecting more than 200,000 children whose parents had either died or simply no longer had the wherewithal to care for them. Two children's books
Orphan Train Rider, One Boy's True Story
We Rode the Orphan Trains
both by Andrea Warren give first- hand accounts of some of the orphan train survivors whom she interviewed as elderly adults and their reflections on their harrowing experiences. It becomes clear that the children had varied experiences; some were taken into families and made to feel as if they belonged, while others were treated as if they were merely slaves to be used for labor. Naturally, these survivors have a very personal perspective on this piece of history that those of us who are merely observers do not.
Orphan Train Rider
, Lee Nailing tells his very personal story of being left by his father who simply could not care for him and his brothers and sister after the death of their mother. As the result of the orphan trains, the siblings were all separated, but were given families and homes in which to grow up.