“Along the Rails & Into the World” – Preservings Summer 2020

July 13, 2020

For the first time in over a decade Preservings magazine has a summer issue. Continuing the theme of Mennonites and railways introduced in the previous issue, this issue offers stories about how railways shaped Mennonite life in a global context, with feature articles on Mennonites and the railway in Mexico, Paraguay, and Russia.

Two of these stories emerge out of the exodus of Mennonites to Latin America in the 1920s. Patricia Islas Salinas and María Miriam Lozano Muñoz describe how Mennonites remembered the train ride that brought them to Cuauthémoc, Chihuahua, Mexico, in the 1920s, examining how the emotion of the journey solidified into collective memories that were passed down through generations. Burt Klassen Kehler explains how the railway was essential to the economic survival of Mennonite settlers in the Paraguayan Chaco, and describes their futile efforts to induce the Casado Company fulfill its promise to build the last leg of track, making life in the Chaco wilderness even more difficult. Conrad Stoesz relates a different kind of story, about prosperous Mennonite industrialists who capitalized on the construction boom in early twentieth-century Russia to finance the building of the Tokmak railway, which crossed the Molotschna colony. Impressive, large train stations that were erected provided new secular community spaces.

Other articles in this issue include a piece on Mennonite settlers in Prussian Lithuania; items on the author and editor Martin B. Fast, and on nurse and midwife Anna Thiessen; a re-examination of the founding of the village of Neubergthal; and an article on the arrival of the railway in Manitoba’s East Reserve.

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