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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > History of Science and Technology > Transportation History

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The Hook and Eye Cover

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The Hook and Eye

A History of the Iowa Central Railway

Don L. Hofsommer

Fearing the rapacious power of Chicago’s railroad system in the mid-1900s, 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 demonstrates its symbiotic 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. 

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

Ice Ship Cover

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Ice Ship

The Epic Voyages of the Polar Adventurer Fram

Charles W. Johnson

In the golden age of polar exploration (from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s), many an expedition set out to answer the big question—was the Arctic a continent, an open ocean beyond a barrier of ice, or an ocean covered with ice? No one knew, for the ice had kept its secret well; ships trying to penetrate it all failed, often catastrophically. Norway’s charismatic scientist-explorer Fridtjof Nansen, convinced that it was a frozen ocean, intended to prove it in a novel if risky way: by building a ship capable of withstanding the ice, joining others on an expedition, then drifting wherever it took them, on a relentless one-way journey into discovery and fame . . . or oblivion.

Ice Ship is the story of that extraordinary ship, the Fram, from conception to construction, through twenty years of three epic expeditions, to its final resting place as a museum. It is also the story of the extraordinary men who steered the Fram over the course of 84,000 miles: on a three-year, ice-bound drift, finding out what the Arctic really was; in a remarkable four-year exploration of unmapped lands in the vast Canadian Arctic; and on a two–year voyage to Antarctica, where another famous Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, claimed the South Pole.

Ice Ship will appeal to all those fascinated with polar exploration, maritime adventure, and wooden ships, and will captivate readers of such books as The Endurance, In the Heart of the Sea, and The Last Place on Earth. With more than 100 original photographs, the book brings the Fram to life and light.

Images from the Arsenal of Democracy Cover

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Images from the Arsenal of Democracy

Charles K. Hyde

While researching his previous study, Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II (Wayne State University Press, 2013), award-winning automotive historian Charles K. Hyde discovered the many remarkable photos that were part of the era’s historical documentation. In Images from the Arsenal of Democracy, Hyde presents a selection of nearly three hundred of these documentary photos in striking black and white, with brief captions. Taken together, the images create a captivating portrait of this crucial moment in American business, military, and cultural history. Images from the Arsenal of Democracy spans from 1940 until the end of the war, presenting up-close, rarely seen views of newly built plants and repurposed production lines, a staggering variety of war products and components, and the many workers behind Detroit’s wartime production miracles. The human faces that Hyde presents are especially compelling, as photos show the critical role played by previously underused workers—namely women and African Americans. Images from the Arsenal is divided into chapters by theme, including “Preparing for War before Pearl Harbor”; “Planning Defense Production after Pearl Harbor”; “Aircraft Engines and Propellers”; “Aircraft Components and Complete Aircraft”; “Tanks and Other Armored Vehicles”; “Jeeps, Trucks, and Amphibious Vehicles”; “Guns, Shells, Bullets, and Other War Goods”; “The New Workers”; and “Celebrating the Production Achievements.” The first comprehensive and detailed history drawn solely from the surviving photographic record of wartime Detroit, Images from the Arsenal will be appreciated by automotive historians, World War II scholars, and American history buffs.

Iowa's Railroads Cover

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Iowa's Railroads

An Album

Edited by Don L. Hofsommer and H. Roger Grant

At one point in time, no place in Iowa was more than a few miles from an active line of rail track. In this splendid companion volume to Steel Trails of Hawkeyeland (IUP, 2005), H. Roger Grant and Don L. Hofsommer explore the pivotal role that railroads played in the urban development of the state as well as the symbiotic relationship Iowa and its rails shared. With more than 400 black-and-white photographs, a solid inventory of depots and locations, and new information that is sure to impress even the most well-versed railfan, this detailed history of the state's railroads—including the Chicago & North Western, Cedar Rapids & Iowa City, and the Iowa Northern—will be an essential reference for railroad fans and historians, artists, and model railroad builders.

Ladies of the Lights Cover

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Ladies of the Lights

Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service

Patricia Majher

"A great read about some great ladies, Pat Majher's Ladies of the Lights pays long overdue homage to an overlooked part of Great Lakes maritime history in which a select group of stalwart women beat the odds to succeed in a field historically reserved for men." ---Terry Pepper, Executive Director of Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association Michigan once led the country in the number of lighthouses, and they're still a central part of the mystique and colorful countryside of the state. What even the region's lighthouse enthusiasts might not know is the rich history of female lighthouse keepers in the area. Fifty women served the sailing communities on Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior, as well as on the Detroit River, for more than 100 years. From Catherine Shook, who raised eight children while maintaining the Pointe Aux Barques light at the entrance to Saginaw Bay; to Eliza Truckey, who assumed responsibility for the lighthouse in Marquette while her husband fought for four years in the Civil War; to Elizabeth Whitney, whose combined service on Beaver Island and in Harbor Springs totaled forty-one years---the stories of Michigan's "ladies of the light" are inspiring. This is no technical tome documenting the minutiae of Michigan's lighthouse specifications. Rather, it's a detailed, human portrait of the women who kept those lighthouses running, defying the gender expectations of their time. Patricia Majher is Editor of Michigan History magazine, published by the Historical Society of Michigan. Prior, she was Assistant Director of the Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame in Lansing, Michigan. In addition, she has been writing both advertising and editorial copy for almost thirty years and has been a frequent contributor to Michigan newspapers and magazines.

Last Exit Cover

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Last Exit

Privatization and Deregulation of the U.S. Transportation System

Clifford Winston

In Last Exit Clifford Winston reminds us that transportation services and infrastructure in the United States were originally introduced by private firms. The case for subsequent public ownership and management of the system was weak, in his view, and here he assesses the case for privatization and deregulation to greatly improve Americans' satisfaction with their transportation systems.

Little Trains to Faraway Places Cover

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Little Trains to Faraway Places

Karl Zimmermann

Narrow-gauge railroading conjures images of marginal track, wooden coaches, and antique steam locomotives. Yet consider the extraordinarily glamorous and comfortable South African Blue Train and Australia's Queenslander as well as the electrified network of meter-gauge mountain railways in Switzerland that run with a precision similar to that of the country's famed timepieces. Often used to penetrate the most challenging and breathtaking terrain that larger trains are unable to reach, narrow-gauge railways offer even the most seasoned of travelers an experience to remember. Karl Zimmermann, railroad author and accomplished photographer, chronicles his journeys aboard these rarest of trains. Individual chapters weave history and travelogue, complemented by more than 100 color illustrations. The result is a spirited tribute to the world's most charismatic railways.

Locomotive to Aeromotive Cover

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Locomotive to Aeromotive

Octave Chanute and the Transportation Revolution

Simine Short

French-born and self-trained civil engineer Octave Chanute designed America's two largest stockyards, created innovative and influential structures such as the Kansas City Bridge over the previously "unbridgeable" Missouri River, and was a passionate aviation pioneer whose collaborative approach to aeronautical engineering problems helped the Wright brothers take flight. Drawing on a rich trove of archival material and exclusive family sources, Locomotive to Aeromotive is the first detailed examination of Chanute's life and his immeasurable contributions to the fields of engineering and transportation, from the ground transportation revolution of the mid-nineteenth century to the early days of aviation._x000B__x000B_Aviation researcher and historian Simine Short brings to light in colorful detail many previously overlooked facets of Chanute's life, in both his professional accomplishments and his personal relationships. Through the reflections of other engineers, scientists and pioneers in various fields who knew him, Short characterizes Chanute as a man who believed in fostering and supporting people who were willing to learn. This well-researched biography cements Chanute's place as a preeminent engineer, pioneer, and mentor in the history of transportation in the United States and the development of the airplane.

Louisiana Aviation Cover

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Louisiana Aviation

An Extraordinary History in Photographs

Vincent P. Caire

At the beginning of the twentieth century the skies presented a new frontier, one that attracted daredevils, businessmen, politicians, and engineers enticed by a new form of transportation. Louisiana entrepreneurs and pilots proved instrumental in ushering in the Golden Age of Aviation. They advanced aircraft design, revolutionized aerial crop dusting, pioneered airmail routes, pushed the limits of stunt flying, and entertained spectators with air races. A pilot and freelance writer with more than twenty years of experience in the aviation industry, Vincent P. Caire chronicles the state’s history of flight in 196 vintage and contemporary photographs, many never-before published. Photos of early aviation pioneer John Moisant, air racing champion General James Doolittle, barnstormer Roscoe Turner, aircraft designer James Wedell, and founder of Delta Airlines C. E. Woolman reflect Louisiana’s zeal for aeronautics. Caire explains how the efforts of Senator Huey P. Long and Harry P. Williams, co-owner of the Wedell-Williams Air Service in Patterson, Louisiana, influenced the development of viable airmail routes throughout the southeastern United States. Rarely seen photographs depict the Art Deco elegance of the first modern, multioperational passenger terminal in the nation—Shushan Airport in New Orleans. A captivating visual tour spanning one hundred years, Louisiana Aviation celebrates the state’s air history, evident in Louisiana’s seventy airports, 5,000 aircraft, 7,000 pilots, and numerous airshows in operation today.

The Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Rail Road Cover

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The Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Rail Road

Dreams of Linking North and South

H. Roger Grant

Among the grand antebellum plans to build railroads to interconnect the vast American republic, perhaps none was more ambitious than the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston. The route was intended to link the cotton-producing South and the grain and livestock growers of the Old Northwest with traders and markets in the East, creating economic opportunities along its 700-mile length. But then came the Panic of 1837, and the project came to a halt. H. Roger Grant tells the incredible story of this singular example of "railroad fever" and the remarkable visionaries whose hopes for connecting North and South would require more than half a century—and one Civil War—to reach fruition.

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