Off the Main Lines

Off the Main Lines

A Photographic Odyssey
Don L. Hofsommer
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 08/01/2013
Format: Paperback 454 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00832-9
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In this visually stunning and comprehensive photographic essay, railroad historian and photographer Donovan L. Hofsommer records the end of branchline passenger service, the demise of electric railroads, the transition from steam to diesel power, as well as the end of common carrier freight service on the Colorado narrow gauge. Off the Main Lines carries readers along out-of-the-way railways in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, and South Dakota to see the changes that occurred on these lines from the 1940s to the 1990s.

Author Bio

Donovan L. Hofsommer is Professor of History at St. Cloud State University and president of the Lexington Group. He is author of Steel Trails of Hawkeyeland (IUP, 2005) and (with H. Roger Grant) of Iowa's Railroads: An Album (IUP, 2009).


“This visually stunning and comprehensive photographic essay carries readers along railways in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, and South Dakota, illustrating changes from the 1940s to the 1990s.”

“This presentation should find a strong reception, not only for its coverage of lesser-known places, but also for its depiction of the evolutionary advancement of rail technology in the nation's Heartland.”
 — J. Parker Lamb, author of Railroads of Meridian

“All in all this is a good photographic essay of some lesser known routes and, as usual, I picked up a few more pieces of information to use at a railroad trivia night.”
 — The Villager

“If you miss the Milwaukee, recall the Rock Island, suffer from the loss of the Soo Line, maintain sadness for the Santa Fe, can't forget the Frisco, absent-mindedly buried the Burlington Route in oblivion or still maintain romantic recollections of the Katy, you'll find Dr. Hofsommer's Off the Main Lines exatly where you need to be! ”
 — Lexington Quarterly

“[This] book is a fitting tribute to its subject; railroad enthusiasts across the upper Midwest and beyond will find Hofsommer's personalized history to be both edifying and immensely rewarding. ”
 — The Annals of Iowa

“If American railroads float your boat, then keep an eye open for this gem. Within its 320 pages, there are 454 black and white pictures. Spanning from the 1940s to the 1990s, it portrays admirably, the vastness of the country, and how its railroad system has changed beyond recognition . . . With informative captions, this album vividly portrays a way of life no longer seen. A fascinating insight into historical American railroading.”
 — Railways Illustrated

“This volume presents a 'different' side of Don Hofsommer, an author perhaps best known for his thoroughly researched railroad history presentations. Judging by the superb collection of action oriented images presented here, Hofsommer was also an avid rail enthusiast photographer. The book’s eight chapters of text material is an interesting blend of historical fact and personal reminiscence, and traces the author’s own personal 60-year rail odyssey to a variety of 'off the beaten path' locations.”
 — Michigan Railfan

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