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A century of dealmaking and government misdeeds forms the backdrop of this entertaining account of sternwheelers, iron horses and mountain roads. Battling factions of rail builders crossed many a line in the sand as they carved up both the land and the spoils of industry.

Did both federal and provincial politicians wittingly sabotage road construction programs to the benefit of the rail barons? Were Cornelius Van Horne, Major A.B. Rogers and Andrew McCulloch fully deserving of the accolades bestowed on them? Was railway man J.J. Hill a genius or an opportunist?

R.G. Harvey has applied a keen mind and deft pen to uncover skulduggery in politics and critical routing errors by the early surveyors and engineers who "carved their western paths." In turn he has exposed new scars and wrinkles to add to historic portraits otherwise untainted.

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