Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

The Hook and Eye

A History of the Iowa Central Railway

2005
Author:

Don L. Hofsommer

The Hook and Eye

Shares the history of Iowa’s hardscrabble but vital railway link to the upper Midwest

Analyzing the origins, growth, and eventual dismantling of the Iowa Central Railway, Don L. Hofsommer examines how this “plain vanilla” railway was an example of the life cycle of the American railroad industry. Drawing the story from station records, annual reports, newspaper articles, and interviews with former employees, The Hook & Eye brings the industry and human sides of railroading into view.

Although the Iowa Central Railway has long faded from the corporate world, Don L. Hofsommer has given life to this once strategic Midwestern carrier. No one understands the 'Hook & Eye' better than this accomplished historian. This superb book, expertly researched and handsomely produced, should be required reading for anyone interested in transportation history and the saga of the Hawkeye state.

H. Roger Grant, Clemson University

Fearing the rapacious power of Chicago’s railroad system in the mid-1800s, Iowa Central Railway supporters fought for a north-south route across the state that would link Minneapolis and St. Paul with St. Louis. Such a route would put the needs of Iowa’s citizens first and provide transportation for the state’s agricultural and industrial trade.

Analyzing the origins, growth, and eventual dismantling of the Iowa Central Railway, which traversed the state from Ackley to Zearing and Mason City to Marshalltown, Don Hofsommer examines how this unremarkable, “plain vanilla” railway was an example of the life cycle of the American railroad industry. The Hook & Eye had a close, interdependent relationship with its customers. Born in ambition but never rising far above its obscure origins, the Iowa Central eventually fell to outside competition from railroads based in greater metropolitan areas and was made part of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway in 1912.

Drawing the story from station records, annual reports, newspaper articles, and interviews with former employees, The Hook & Eye brings both the industry and human sides of railroading into sharp and memorable view.

The Hook and Eye

Don L. Hofsommer is a native Iowan and professor of history at St. Cloud State University.

The Hook and Eye

Although the Iowa Central Railway has long faded from the corporate world, Don L. Hofsommer has given life to this once strategic Midwestern carrier. No one understands the 'Hook & Eye' better than this accomplished historian. This superb book, expertly researched and handsomely produced, should be required reading for anyone interested in transportation history and the saga of the Hawkeye state.

H. Roger Grant, Clemson University

Overflown and often overlooked, Iowa rarely gets as much attention as the larger states and major cities near it. This is welcome information for Iowans as well as railroad history buffs.

Bloomsbury Review

The Iowa Central’s existence was short-lived, and thus translated into a volume short only on number of pages. The legacy of the ‘Hook & Eye’ is long on importance.

The Lexington Quarterly

The Hook and Eye

CONTENTS

Preface
Acronyms and Shortened Names

1. Urban Mercantilism
2. Iowa Central Railroad: Great Plans, Grand Failure
3. Eldora Railroad & Coal Company
4. Iowa River Railway
5. Central Railroad Company of Iowa
6. The Tangled Ways of Finance
7. The Hook & EyE
8. Iowa Central Railway
9. Enter the Twentieth Century

Epilogue

Notes
Bibliography

Index