UCLA Economist, Known as Railroad Historian, Dies at 89

tags: obituary



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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