UCLA Economist, Known as Railroad Historian, Dies at 89Historians in the News
George W. Hilton’s title at the University of California at Los Angeles—emeritus professor of economics—gave no hint of his renown from coast to coast: He was among the best and most prolific railroad and transportation historians of his generation.
Mr. Hilton, who died August 4 in Maryland at age 89, was born in Chicago. He was registered for Dartmouth College at the age of 2, he told The Chronicle in a 1994 interview. As a child he developed a fascination with trains that later, he said, "gave me a body of knowledge that I could transfer to the academic market" and "served well as an organizing principle for academic life."
After he earned a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, his first academic appointment was at the University of Maryland, where "one of the pleasures of the position" was the proximity of a 77-mile railroad that he had always wanted to visit. In 1963 it became the subject of what he said afterward was the best of his books: The Ma & Pa: A History of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad.
"The motive power would have done credit to any good museum of antique technology, and the rolling stock had a consistency and originality that might well have come from the hand of a great artist," he wrote of the line...
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