Narrow Gauge in the Tropics
The Railways of the Dutch East Indies, 1864–1942
Published by: Indiana University Press
322 Pages, 125 b&w illus., 20 maps
- Published: May 2022
Narrow Gauge in the Tropics is the first comprehensive history of railways and tramways in the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia) from breaking ground in 1864 to the invasion of the Japanese during World War II.
During the mid-19th century under colonial rule, the Dutch East Indies experienced enormous increases in production of sugar, coffee, and other commodities, resulting in a great dilemma: How were these goods to be moved to port when wagons hauled by animals was the only available form of transportation? The solution was to build a railway network through some of the most challenging terrain on the planet.
Lavishly illustrated, Narrow Gauge in the Tropics explores technical aspects of the construction of the railways over difficult terrain, the origin of the technicians who made the seemingly impossible happen, and the social impact of the railways on the indigenous population.
1. The Dutch or Netherlands East Indies
2. The First Railway on Java
3. The Choice of the Most Suitable Railway Gauge for the East Indies
4. State or Private Railways?
5. The Early State Railways
6. Slowing Down and Reorganization
7. Railways of Sumatra
8. Sumatra's Other Railways
9. The Coming of the Steam Tram
10. Toward a New Prosperity
11. The Private Companies until 1914
12. World War One and Its Golden Aftermath
13. Travel in the Tropics—Electrification
14. The Non-Public Railways
15. Worldwide Depression and Slow Recovery
Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading
Augustus Veenendaal has written a ground-breaking and superbly researched study of narrow-gauge railroads in the Netherlands East Indies. He reveals the technology, finances, traffic, and enthusiasm for these slim-width carriers. This is a book that the general reader and professional historian alike can relish.~H. Roger Grant, Kathryn and Calhoun Professor of History, Clemson University
It should be no surprise that the first comprehensive work on the Dutch East Indies railways comes from a Dutch author. He could hardly be better qualified: Guus Veenendaal is not only a railway enthusiast and modeller but by profession an academic historian, greatly respected in The Netherlands, and ultimately official historian to the Nederlandse Spoowegen. Heartily recommended.~Andrew Burnham, Editor, Continental Modeller
An informative addition to the growing library of books devoted to the history of railroads outside North America and Europe. Well-researched and beautifully illustrated.~Carlos Schwantes, author of Crossroads of a Continent