“Delaware Before the Railroads” by David L. Tabler

Delaware Before the Railroads

David L.Tabler
Independently Published (2022)
ISBN: 979-8987000601
Reviewed by Leigh Kimberly Zoby for Reader Views (01/2023) 

“Delaware Before the Railroads” takes the reader on a stroll through nearly two centuries of Delaware history, visiting key moments in time from 1638 to the arrival of the railroad system in 1832.

Author David L. Tabler celebrates Delaware’s glorious history through a handsomely rich pageant of photographs and informative text. The book’s chapters are arranged chronologically following the Swedish settlement to the establishment of the state’s first free public school. Highlights include the area settlement, commerce and trade routes, industry expansion, construction of places of worship and courthouses, the foundation of banking systems, and the opening of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canals.

“Delaware Before the Railroads” contains research-backed information that goes beyond notable colonial-era buildings into the livelihoods of its people. David L. Tabler uses the support of historical documents to accurately depict the trials and tribulations of colonial life and beyond. I especially enjoyed learning about the Quaker’s involvement in shipbuilding and early trade development. Subjects of slavery, medicine, clothing, and hunting are discussed to reflect an accurate depiction of the period. 

Tabler has produced a stunningly beautiful book rich in knowledge. The exquisite photographs lay the foundation to follow as we step back in time. On the side of each photograph, a simple explanation is noted to state the history behind the picture. If further information is desired Tabler directs the reader to a pictorial reference section to dive deeper into the history. I was amazed to see a photograph of the Mason-Dixon Boundary marker that separates the North and South. I never realized an actual marker existed. The writing style used in creating “Delaware Before the Railroads” is educational and informative, all while remaining interesting to a wide array of ages. The page layouts are unique, and user-friendly, touching on key points with an option to delve deeper if so desired.

“Delaware Before the Railroads” is a wonderful travel guide for the day trip history buff seeking a quick getaway into Colonial-era Delaware. I believe this book would do well in gift shops and museum settings. Homeschool families and teachers would also benefit from the vast amounts of Delaware history the book possesses. 

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