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Minneapolis and the Age of Railways

2012
Author:

Don L. Hofsommer

Minneapolis and the Age of Railways

The fascinating, intertwined history of the city of Minneapolis and its railways

In Minneapolis and the Age of Railways, Don L. Hofsommer presents Minneapolis from the 1860s into the 1950s, when railroads served as a unique link between city and countryside. Illustrated with more than 200 period photographs and maps, this comprehensive book reflects a time when the locomotive dominated the landscape and set the tempo for the nation: the age of railways.

The author’s talent for conveying the essential issues and outcomes with eloquent characterization is as robust as ever.

The Lexington Quarterly

With the recent revitalization of the Minneapolis Warehouse District and the surge in construction of condominiums and other buildings near the banks of the Mississippi, the landscape of the city seems to change almost daily. Not so long ago, however, this newly desirable area was blanketed by railroads serving the lumber and flour mills and other industries powered by the enormous Falls of St. Anthony.

In Minneapolis and the Age of Railways, Don Hofsommer presents Minneapolis from the 1860s into the 1950s, when railroads served as a unique link between city and countryside. Rails carried wheat and helped make Minneapolis the flour milling capital of the world; brought logs to Minneapolis to be processed into lumber that built towns and farms across the prairies; and delivered coal and all manner of manufactured goods and merchandise to Minneapolis, to its vast hinterland to the north and west, and beyond to the Rockies and the Pacific, making the growth of America’s northern heartland possible.

Railroads also provided efficient, long-distance transportation for hundreds of thousands of people who traveled via Minneapolis. The Milwaukee Road and Great Northern passenger terminals in Minneapolis were vibrant places—the heart of the city—pumping passengers, mail, and express parcels into the nation’s steel-rail cardiovascular system.

Illustrated with more than 200 period photographs and maps detailing the city and the tracks that crossed it, this comprehensive book reflects a time not so long ago when the locomotive dominated the landscape and set the tempo for the nation: the age of railways.

Minneapolis and the Age of Railways

Don L. Hofsommer is professor of history at St. Cloud State University. He is the author of many books on railroad history, including The Tootin’ Louie: A History of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway and The Great Northern Railway: A History, both published by Minnesota.

Minneapolis and the Age of Railways

The author’s talent for conveying the essential issues and outcomes with eloquent characterization is as robust as ever.

The Lexington Quarterly

Although outsiders might not think of railways when they picture Minneapolis, the history of this city is tightly linked to this transportation technology. Illustrations in this large, handsome volume match the energy of the text, with maps, photographs, period advertisements, and other graphics providing a welcome accompaniment.

Bloomsbury Review

Minneapolis is very fortunate to have respected historian Don L. Hofsommer explore the impact of railroads on the evolving city, and the University of Minnesota Press deserves praise for publishing such an informative and attractive book. This is one of the most attractive marriages of top-notch text and illustrations I have seen produced by any publisher. Minneapolis and the Age of Railways offers something for almost everyone.

Minnesota History

Not so long ago, trains bustled constantly in and out of Minneapolis, carrying myriad supplies, resources, manufactured goods, and people—but mostly bringing change. Don L. Hofsommer gracefully hearkens back to this formative time in the history of the country and of Minneapolis. This is an intriguing book, rich in historical detail, handsomely featuring more than 200 photographs and related maps.

Scale Rails

This [is a] large and impressive book, which is filled with wonderful old photographs.

Material Culture

The book’s 17 vintage maps graphically demonstrate the rail’s evolution over a century. This book is highly recommended to anyone interested in development of the railroads that have served Minneapolis over the past 100 years, as well as to those who are interested in Minnesota history.

Railfan & Railroad

Hofsommer explains how Minneapolis became a prominent industrial hub with railways defining life in the city.

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Over 200 period photos and maps cover the city's rail lines, providing a history of railroad property, political and government acts, consolidations, and passenger trends alike. The lively story of Minneapolis and its growth is charted in terms of trends and rail history in a survey which will delight both rail buffs and Minneapolis natives alike.

Midwest Book Review

A real treat for the history and rail buff.

The Great Northern Goat

Hofsommer and the University of Minnesota Press have produced a history that will interest railroad buffs and locals alike.

The Annals of Iowa

Well illustrated with historic black and white photographs, maps, vintage advertising and other railroadiana, this book is an excellent source for anyone interested in Midwestern railroad history.

S. Gaugin

Veteran railroad historian Don L. Hofsommer and the University of Minnesota Press have put two marvelous books in one. Minneapolis is a consistently interesting, balanced, and well-researched regional railroad history book spanning the 1860s until the 1970s, and it is a fascinating ‘coffee-table’ book (containing two hundred illustrations) with the highest of production standards. ‘Both’ books will be enjoyed by those interested in railroad, regional, and economic history—or just looking for a meaningful gift. Don Hofsommer’s Minneapolis and the Age of Railways is an insightful, thorough book and a valuable addition to any library.

North Dakota History

Hofsommer does an excellent job relating the story of the development of the Minneapolis railroad scene. Minneapolis and the Age of Railways will be of interest to rail historians in general and Minnesota aficionados in particular.

ObservationCar

Minneapolis and the Age of Railways

CONTENTS

Preface

1. Steamcars at Last
2. Late to the Party
3. Of Champagne and Panic
4. The St. Louis Road
5. Pulling and Hauling
6. Optimism and Realism
7. New Players
8. Dancing with the Giants
9. Falling Rates and Encroachment
10. Adrift
11. Three Cents per Mile
12. Rumors and Reality
13. Shifting Winds
14. The Struggling Giant
15. Mixed Blessings
16. An Uncertain Future

Epilogue
Notes

Index