July 4, 2023
40 b&w illus.
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$28.00 USD, £22.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Sunset Cluster

A Shortline Railroad Saga

Discover the Sunset Clusterrailroads that were doomed to fail?

The first two decades of the 20th century were the twilight of the Railroad Age. Major routes had long been established, and local service became the focus of new construction. Beginning in 1907, a cluster of five shortline railroads were established in otherwise unconnected parts of Iowa. They, however, would short lived.

The five Iowa 'sunset cluster' railroads might appear to deserve eternal obscurity, being at best minor footnotes to American railroad history. After all, their total mileage barely exceeded 100 miles. Their average life span, moreover, covered about five years, and the Des Moines & Red Oak Railway (DM&RO) never turned a wheel. Yet, these Iowa shortlines had an immediate positive impact to their service area, but disappointingly they became victims of modal competition and the Good Roads Movement.

Using contemporary newspapers, government reports, and other little-known sources, renowned railway historian H. Roger Grant offers a fascinating look at these shortline railroads. Sunset Cluster explores the almost desperate desire by communities to benefit from steel rails before the regional railroad map finally imploded and the challenges faced by latter-day shortline builders.

About the Author

H. Roger Grant is author of numerous books on railroads and transportation, including Railroads and the American People and A Mighty Fine Road. He is Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History at Clemson University.


"Roger Grant's thoughtful and well-researched study of a handful of late-comer railroads in western Iowa is far more than a regional addition to the existing literature. Not every railroad was a Pennsylvania or a Santa Fe, and not every builder was a Vanderbilt or Harriman, but hometown folk pursuing local rail construction projects provide a valuable case study that showcases the optimism still extant during the twilight years of railroad expansion, the result being these short and often marginal late arrivals."—Carlos A. Schwantes, co-author of Crossroads of a Continent: Missouri Railroads, 1851-1921

"Roger Grant has done another masterful job in presenting an aspect of railroad history that is too often overlooked.  The last burst of railroad construction, particularly in the Midwest, is overshadowed by the tumultuous years after the First World War.  Grant has taken the histories of five short line railroads in Iowa and placed them in the larger context of the sunset of railroad expansion in the United States.  In doing so he's produced an interesting an enjoyable book for scholars and the general reader."—Nick Fry, Curator, John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library at University of Missouri - St. Louis


9780253066718 : sunset-cluster-grant
July 4, 2023
$28.00 USD

Other Titles by H. Roger Grant

The Station Agent and the American Railroad Experience

H. Roger Grant
Jan 2023 - Indiana University Press
$28.00 USD - Hardback

A Mighty Fine Road

H. Roger Grant
Oct 2020 - Indiana University Press
$30.00 USD - Hardback

Transportation and the American People

H. Roger Grant
Oct 2019 - Indiana University Press
$40.00 USD - Hardback

Other Titles from Railroads Past and Present

Vision Accomplished

William H. Galligan
Feb 2024 - Indiana University Press
$40.00 USD - Hardback

The Pennsylvania Railroad

Albert J. Churella
Nov 2023 - Indiana University Press
$80.00 USD - Hardback

Other Titles in TRANSPORTATION / Railroads / History

Shifting Lines, Entangled Borderlands

Jan Musekamp
Mar 2024 - Indiana University Press
$85.00 USD - Hardback
$40.00 USD - Paperback / softback

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad, 1850-1963

Kincaid A. Herr
Nov 2021 - University Press of Kentucky
$60.00 USD - Electronic book text
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The Train and the Telegraph

Benjamin Sidney Michael Schwantes
Aug 2019 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$57.00 USD - Hardback
$57.00 USD - Electronic book text