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Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review: Minnesota Logging Railroads by Frank A. King

Here's my review on the book by Frank A. King that chronicles the history and operation of Minnesota's logging railroads.  Originally from a freerails thread:


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.

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