From the railroad lines that traverse open prairie to the wrought iron rails embedded in their wooden ties, railroads have been written into the landscape—and shared history—of Wisconsin. Yet few of us have thought about how they developed in the towns and cities we call home.
Based on the author's extensive research into the early history of Wisconsin's rails, Steam & Cinders chronicles the boom and bust of the first railroads in the state, from the charters of the 1830s to the farm mortgages of the 1850s and consolidation of the railroads on the eve of the Civil War. Featuring more than 75 period photographs, historic maps, and drawings, Steam & Cinders preserves the legacy of early Wisconsin railroading for railroad buffs and armchair historians alike.
About the Author
Axel Lorenzsonn has worked for Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development for 26 years and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. A life-long history buff, he has delved into the history of Wisconsin’s early railroads for the past fourteen years, and is an active member of several railroading associations including the Milwaukee Road Historical Society and the Chicago & North Western Historical Society. Axel currently lives in the village of Maple Bluff with his wife and has two grown children.
“Railroads have been around for so long that they seem like part of the landscape. But where, when, and how they developed was far from inevitable, as Axel Lorenzsonn shows in his thorough and superb study of the coming of the Iron Horse to Wisconsin. Steam and Cinders should be required reading for any student of railroads or the development of the Upper Midwest.” (Robert S. McGonigal, Editor, Classic Trains magazine) “Axel Lorenszonn provides a well-researched and engaging account . . . of the coming of the railroads to Wisconsin.” (William D. Middleton, Editor, Encyclopedia of North American Railroads) “If Steam & Cinders were a train, it would be one mighty locomotive—a beautiful piece of intricate machinery chugging slowly but steadily through Wisconsin to drag its boxcars bulging with research to the promised destination.” (Isthmus newspaper)
2009 Winner in the History/Current Events Category from Midwest Independent Publishers Association Book Awards 2010 Silver in the Transportation (Auto/Aviation/Railroad) Category from Independent Publisher Book Awards