It's Christmas Eve, 1940. Along an isolated stretch of railway between Meridian, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana, two locomotives travel toward one another through the dark winter landscape. A.P. Dunn, engineer aboard the 4512 southbound freight, reminisces about the last trip he made through the snow. And though he can remember every detail about that voyage in 1923, what he can't recall are the events of a few hours ago-where he ate breakfast, how he got the gash on his forehead, or what he did to make his crew treat him so strangely.On the northbound Silver Star, a luxury passenger train packed with returning college students and gift-bearing families, brakeman Artemus Kane has his own memories to contend with: French trenches and German snipers, a failed marriage, and a too-short layover spent with Anna, the brilliant and lonely woman he has just left behind in the Crescent City. In Pelican Road, Howard Bahr returns to his greatest theme-the tragic nobility of those attempting to overcome difficult situations through love, honor, and sacrifice-and shows that on the railway, catastrophe is never more than a distracted moment away.