If you haven’t already ready this week’s Lifestyles story, I would recommend you do so since it will put this column in context.


If you haven’t already ready this week’s Lifestyles story, I would recommend you do so since it will put this column in context.

As most readers know, I am a train buff. I enjoy trains, both large and small. As a model railroader, I have delved into the past to recreate an accurate representation of several railroads in miniature.

I also enjoy reading about the history of railroads — not necessarily all railroads — but definitely those that have a local or regional connection to Montevideo.

When I received an e-mail last week from Richard Petersen’s daughter Debra telling me about the new history book he and Steve Monson had collaborated on, I couldn’t wait to learn more about it.

The fact that the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway figured prominently in the book certainly helped spur my interest. I already have one pictorial history book about the M&St.L, but I doubt very much if there are a lot of people under 60 living around here that even remember the M&St.L.

At one time the railroad was a major player in the railroad industry. Much of the trackage in Minneapolis that served the flour mills along the Mississippi River was owned and operated by the M&St.L.

The main route of the railroad went south from the Twin Cities to Peoria, Ill., but the M&St.L. also had designs to tap into the rich agricultural markets to the west. The line that led to the founding of the towns such as Clarkfield, Wood Lake, Dawson and Madison that are featured in Petersen’s and Monson’s book was the railroad’s attempt to reach the Missouri River and beyond.

In today’s era of mega-railroads, most people have no idea of the diversity the railroad industry once had. The small towns that dot the prairies of Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota, and many other states owe their existence to the railroads.

I’m glad that Petersen and Monson are preserving some of that rich history.

My copy is on order.
Excelsior!