We Rode the Orphan Trains

We Rode the Orphan Trains Book Jacket

We Rode the Orphan Trains

Once I had completed Orphan Train Rider: One Boy’s True Story, I filed away the interviews I had conducted with other riders. I guess I must have known that I would write another book about the orphan trains. Each rider’s story was so compelling, and this history is rapidly slipping away, for only a handful of riders are still alive.

When several riders died in rapid succession, I decided to do another book while I could still interview the people I would include in it. I settled on four men and four women who were old enough at the time to remember what happened to them (many riders were infants or toddlers when they rode the trains, and therefore not good candidates for me). Their stories, taken together, offered a variety of orphan train experiences.

I also went in search of information about the agents of the Children’s Aid Society who rode on the trains with the children. Very little has been written about these selfless people, these unsung heroes, who devoted years and even decades of their lives to the children. I focused on one: Clara Comstock, a former schoolteacher, who made 74 trips west with “her” children, and remained devoted to them the rest of her life.

From the Reviewers:

School Library Journal:
“The personal histories . . .are rich and compelling and so full of dramatic twists and turns that they could have been conceived by Charles Dickens.”

“Moving accounts of love and acceptance, courage and resilience, success, even reunion. . .This is powerful nonfiction for classroom and personal reading.”

Publishers Weekly:
“The anecdotes about these brave and lonely children will keep readers traveling on this train.”


  • Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
  • Booklist: Top Ten Biographies for 2001
  • VOYA Nonfiction Honor Book for 2001
  • Parents Choice Foundation Recommended Book
  • PBS Teacher Source Recommended Book