Railroad author Robert LeMassena dies

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GOLDEN, Colo. – Noted railroad author Robert A. LeMassena has died at age 99. He wrote a number of stories for Trains magazine and had 35 bylines to his credit. LeMassena also wrote 18 railroad books and was active with the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden.

LeMassena was born Aug. 8, 1914 in East Orange, N.J. In his youth, LeMassena would ride his bike to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western yard in East Orange to watch trains and was hooked for life.

He earned a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories in research and development in New York City. LeMassena later transferred to Cicero, Ill., which afforded him an opportunity to observe Midwest railroads. In the late 1940s, LeMassena moved to Colorado to pursue new career options. There he found yet more railroads to study and write about, which led to him writing Rio Grande… to the Pacific! (Sundance Publications, 1974), the definitive history of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.

LeMassena's many Trains bylines include stories on a variety of topics, including the Lackawanna, Rio Grande, opinion pieces, and stories on the state of the rail industry. Industry topics included the validity of the ton mile metric, nationalization, corporate strategies, and train operations. His first byline came in 1963 and covered the Rio Grande's famed Minturn, Colo., helper crew base.

Much of LeMassena's writing focused on steam locomotive design and operation. One of his most famous books is Articulated Steam Locomotives of North America (Sundance Publications, 1979). Trains magazine bylines relating to steam include topics on New York Central 4-8-4s, Santa Fe steam design, and Lima Locomotive Works products.
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