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Intersection Column | Under the Starry Skies of New Mexico

by Tracie Peterson

My series is set in New Mexico, a state I’ve enjoyed visiting many times for research. In deciding to write a new series, I was intrigued by a particular area of New Mexico, south of Albuquerque, on what was known as the Horny Toad Division of the Santa Fe Railroad. Officially it was the Rio Grande Division, but due to a large number of horned toads in the area, the men of the Santa Fe gave it a nickname.

In the early 1900s, this was known as the most difficult division on the Santa Fe’s thousands of miles of rail. If men needed training, they were often sent to this section because they would get a variety of critical problems to deal with.

San Marcial was the division headquarters. This little town no longer exists, but at one time it was bustling with thousands of residents, a Harvey House, a round house for the railroad and divisional offices and shops. Positioned aside the Rio Grande River, the town eventually was destroyed by floods and now nothing is left but a small cemetery atop a hill overlooking the river.

Still, I fell in love with this little town and the people I read about who lived and worked there. Creating a series to showcase some of the jobs on the Santa Fe, as well as this diverse area of New Mexico, was a lot of fun. I was captivated by the history as well, and it played in so nicely with the various characters I wanted to create. New Mexico could be a hard and difficult place to live, and my characters were sometimes in hard and difficult places in their lives, so the area fit perfectly.

As I developed the various books for this series, I studied the types of jobs available to the men of the Santa Fe, as well as the little town of San Marcial. My grandfather and other relatives had worked for the Santa Fe, and I wanted very much to highlight that railroad. It was fun to show their daily lives, as well as other things unique to these men. For instance, railroaders had an entire language of their own with Hoggers (engineers) who searched through the iron garden (rail yard) to find their bake-man (fireman to load coal) with a banjo (fire box shovel) who was ready to beat her on the back (make fast time).

In my book Under the Starry Skies, my hero is a section boss who works on the rails and teaches others to do the same. My heroine is a seamstress working mostly for the railroad men. When their worlds literally collide, our story is born. Secrets abound, mystery men are seeking to kill and the United States stands ready to go to war, what more can complicate the romance and spiritual journey of these characters? Plenty.

I hope readers will enjoy this romance adventure as much as I did writing it. Each of the books in this series stand completely alone, so don’t worry if you didn’t catch book one and two. You can always go back and pick them up.


About the Author

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over 100 novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her many bestselling series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit to learn more.


About the Book

With Europe at war and his longtime friend Cassie injured, railroad worker Brandon DuBarko is burdened by his troubles. He promised Cassie's father he would watch over her, but as their comfortable friendship slowly transforms into something deeper, he feels trapped by a secret from his youth. As the danger intensifies, Cassie and Brandon must rely on God to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of a brighter future.


Did You Know?

Paul points out the importance of spiritual growth in the early years when he says in 2 Timothy 3:15, “And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation and faith in Christ Jesus.” Here are a few reasons why we should share God’s Word with our kids:

  • God’s Word teaches kids to value spiritual things over worldly ones. Scripture helps guard little ones from the entrapments of the world around them. So many distractions bombard our children at every turn. God’s Word grounds them and turns their focus toward heaven instead.

  • The Bible shares story after story of faith and trust in the one true God. Instilling that foundation at an early age helps children build their own rock-solid faith in the Rock of Ages, a faith that they’ll surely need with all the challenges of life.

  • God’s Word leads children to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Isn’t that our ultimate desire for each of our children? And that salvation gives them a steadfast joy beyond their wildest comprehension. Children feel accepted and loved by their Heavenly Father and relish the idea of being part of God’s family.

The Psalmist declares in Psalms 71:17, “O God, from youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.” Help your kids fall in love with God’s Word at an early age by reading Bible stories together regularly. You’ll be so glad you did!


Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore

“Years ago, I had hundreds of books in my personal library, and each time we were within driving distance of a bookstore, I stopped by and came away with at least one more. Then, after a series of moves from one state to another, my personal library dwindled as my wife urged me to give away ones I had read or would never read again. Now, she’s become a book lover, and we enjoy them together. And yes, she’s repurchased the books she wants to read and that were once in my library.”

-C. Kevin Thompson, The Letters


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