View single post by jtrain
 Posted: Tue Mar 17th, 2015 01:50 am
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Joined: Sun May 27th, 2012
Location: Missoula, Montana USA
Posts: 1000
I figured that rather than hijacking 97fordrunner's thread from about a year ago about this book, I'd throw my own two cents in a new thread.

But here's the original:

This is one of those books I had to wait for. I ordered a copy about a month after the previous thread started and wa waiting for it, but it never came. Turns out the book went to my old address at the other end of the state. Someone turned in the book to the Post Office who promptly sent it to the school my mother taught at a while back. I happened to be going through the area when I stopped into that school to say hello to a few former teachers and low and behold, there's the book, ready for me, when I show up. All this took place over about a year, and I just got the book in December.

Anyways, here's my review:

Minnesota Logging Railroads by Frank A. King is perhaps one of the most complete sources about Minnesota's legendary logging past. While many sources exist that talk about the horse drawn sleds, the lumber mills, the lumberjacks, camps, town life, and the unique strategies employed by workers in the deep snow of the frozen north, there never existed a complete book (to my knowledge) about the part we like to study, the railroads. So this book immediately fills a much needed gap in chronicling the lumber industry of the north.

Overall, the book is well written, has a complete Bibliography, and does an excellent job of capturing the operation of the railroads. One of the best features, in my opinion, is the locomotive rosters for every known railroad as well as the many photographs that show exactly what these locomotives looked. The real only shortcoming I can find with this book is that there simply exists too much information to go into extreme detail with just one book. Realistically, if King had included all the sources in the Bibliography, the book would be well over 1000 pages in length. however, I can't hold that against the book or the author, you can only put so much into one document.

The book itself consists of 10 chapters:

Beginnings in Minnesota, the Logging Camp, The River Railroads, North of Lake Superior, Along the Iron Range, Rainey Lake County, Red River Logging, Loading the Cars, The Great Saw Mills, and Iron Horses in the Woods

The book jumps between history, operation, and detailed explanation throughout the chapters, so in some places it may be hard to get all the information at once, yet the information and stories provided are still interesting, at least to me. Besides this, there's really not much else I can say other than this is a book that is necessary for those of you who have a collection of midwestern railroad books, or books on logging, especially about railroads in the north.

Personally, 'Minnesota Logging Railroads' has given me a new perspective on how I see the Great North Woods. There are still trees that stand in the forest that are over 100ft tall and easily 12ft in diameter. Back in the day, there may have been white pines nearly as tall as the famous Redwoods along the West Coast. That being said, the majority of the trees in Minnesota, both present and past (based on the photos) appear to be in the 30-50 ft range.

Like I said, I would have put this post in the old thread, but I didn't want to hijack it with my opinions. Anyways, that's my two cents on the book, it's worth every dollar you might have to spend on it. I'll be reposting this to my blog as well.

Thanks for reading and feel free to post your thoughts on this book.


James W.

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