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The Tootin' Louie

A History of the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway

2005
Author:

Don L. Hofsommer

The Tootin' Louie

The definitive history of one of the Midwest’s most remarkable railroads

In The Tootin' Louie, railroad historian Don L. Hofsommer offers a comprehensive biography of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway and its Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois service areas. Incorporating primary research documents, including station records and dispatchers's reports, Hofsommer brings the M&StL to life by portraying the lives and times of the people involved in the railroad.

The Tootin' Louie is a masterpiece. Don Hofsommer brings the people into the fabric of this company history and the M&StL comes alive.

H. Roger Grant, Clemson University

The Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway (M&StL), affectionately known as the Tootin’ Louie, was founded in 1870 to serve a Minneapolis business community threatened by powerful railway interests emerging from both Chicago and Milwaukee. Although its goal of providing a direct rail artery to St. Louis proved elusive, the M&StL became a 1,600-mile road that supplied essential freight and passenger carriage to the Midwest over its ninety-year existence.

In The Tootin’ Louie, railroad historian Don L. Hofsommer offers a comprehensive biography of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway and its Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois service areas from the dawn of the steamcar civilization into the post–World War II era. Incorporating an extraordinary collection of primary research documents, including station records and dispatchers’s reports, Hofsommer brings the M&StL to life by vividly portraying the lives and times of the people involved in the railroad. His conversational style allows the reader to virtually see the workers, hear their stories, and sense their disappointments. The Tootin’ Louie showcases the human dimension of railroading, emphasizing that the M&StL was long-lived primarily due to the loyalty of the communities and companies it served. Also a chronicle of business in the upper Midwest, this book reveals how the M&StL carried flour, lumber, even movie reels and beer between states and was often transportation for family reunions and other recreational excursions. Deeply connected to the Upper Midwest, the railroad company prospered and suffered with the towns and people it served.

Essential reading for railway buffs and transportation historians nationwide, The Tootin’ Louie is the ultimate guide to the M&StL and its place in an era of economic, social, and industrial change.

The Tootin' Louie

Don L. Hofsommer is professor of history at St. Cloud State University. He is the author of, among many other books, The Southern Pacific, 1901–1985, and coauthor of The Great Northern Railway: A History (Minnesota, 2004).

The Tootin' Louie

The Tootin' Louie is a masterpiece. Don Hofsommer brings the people into the fabric of this company history and the M&StL comes alive.

H. Roger Grant, Clemson University

Thorough and thoroughly enjoyable, The Tootin’ Louie is the most comprehensive, informative, and entertaining railroad history a reader could want, and is sure to appeal to scholars and railbuffs alike.

Western Historical Quarterly

Don Hofsommer’s The Tootin’ Louie is a solid cradle-to-grave history of this company. Hofsommer has written a readable, informative history that evaluates the Minneapolis & St. Louis as a business. The Tootin’ Louie shows how the Minneapolis & St. Louis was a part of the daily life and culture of the communities it served.

South Dakota History

Intended for railway buffs and transportation historians, this volume presents a comprehensive and well researched history of a railway, from the steam car era to the post WWII era. Hofsommer includes primary research documents such as station records and dispatcher’s reports, as well as numerous historic black & white photographs from his own collection. Not just a history of the railway, the book addresses the people connected to the railway, the business environment in the upper Midwest, and the social, economic, and context of the times.

SciTech Book News

The book is a testament to the influence and importance of the railroad culture on American society in the time and place covered. The M&StL, so often poor and struggling, has found its Homer; it is highly unlikely that a more complete history of the road will ever be written. Students of the industry will learn much from reading this volume.

National Railway Bulletin

Well illustrated with rail photographs, and largely quite interesting. Railroad fans interested in rail history will find this book a good addition to their libraries.

Journal of Illinois History

A book that should appeal to a wide variety of readers. Railroad scholars and buffs will relish Hofsommer’s labor of love precisely for the fullness of its data. The casual reader may find it hard going but will be rewarded with an unusually rich case study of a quintessential American railroad.

Minnesota History

Masterpiece. Hofsommer captures every memory, preserving it for those who never saw the magnificent depot at Oskaloosa or the massive, overhead truss steel bridge across the ‘Father of Waters’ at Keithsburg, IL.

The Lexington Quarterly

The Tootin’ Louie is the definitive history of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway. Don Hofsommer has written an extremely informative, detailed, and colorful look at a railroad, a region, and an era.

Annals of Iowa

This thoroughly researched volume by noted author and rail historian Don Hofsommer tells the M&StL story in its entirety. Like his earlier books on the Great Northern, Southern Pacific, and Grand Trunk, this book covering the Tootin’ Louie is railway history at its absolute best.

The Michigan Railfan

The Tootin' Louie

CONTENTS

Preface
Acronyms and Shortened Names

1. Expectancy
2. Lethargy, Euphoria, and Panic
3. Albert Lea at Last
4. Optimism and Realism
5.The Great Rock Island Route
6. Independent Again
7. The Little Harriman
8.The Newest and the Best
9. It Will Be a Hummer
10. Everything from Caskets to Corsets
11. Struggling among the Titans
12. Sweet and Sour
13. Hard Times in Good Times
14. Soldiering On
15. Mean and Ugly
16. Frey and Dismemberment
17. Reason for Hope?
18. Free at Last
19. Don't You Know There's a War On?
20. Sprague and Prosperity
21. Sprague at the Throttle
22.The Ides of May
23. Halting Steps
24. Days of Red and White
25.Valhalla
26. Under a Green and Yellow Flag

Appendix: List of M&StL Stations and Other Places Mentioned

Notes

Index