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David E. Umhauer

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Member: bemidjian

CollectionsYour library (3,074), Currently reading (1), All collections (3,074)

Reviews7 reviews

Tagsrailroad (557), just a good book (95), good person biog (82), Minnesota (65), one of the best (38), lay science (36), sea history (32), frontier history (29), Christian thinkers (29), WW2 (27) — see all tags

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About meRailroader and Minnesota chauvinist. Lover of cats, stars, trains, books, backroads, northern lights, liberal crusaders, the New Yorker, coffee, tin roof sundaes, truck stop cuisine, great lakes ships, good used bookstores and sixties folk rock. Older than I want to admit. Married. Lost faith a while's hard to be a liberal Catholic. Hate most books forced upon one by English teachers. Also, for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release party, I was the conductor on Hogwarts Express when a retail bookstore actual chartered a train for that crucial midnight for the release of book 7.

About my libraryBought at spare moments from too many library booksales and used bookstores discovered during a life filed with work related travel. Lots of books about trains, Minnesota, American history, the frontier, science for lay people, Catholicism, and Hassler and Hillerman and Douglas Adams. Many more books to post here, but that impinges on my reading time.

True Hearts and Purple Heads by Jim Klobuchar
What's the Worst that Could Happen by Donald Westlake
Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte

Groups50 Book Challenge, BBC Radio 3 Listeners, Cats, books, life is good., Hogwarts Express, Librarything Railroad (The LTR), Mensans of LibraryThing, MinnesotaThings, Non-Fiction Readers, Progressive & Liberal!, What Are You Reading Now?

Favorite authorsAnnie Dillard, Jon Hassler, Tony Hillerman, Don L. Hofsommer, Stewart H. Holbrook, P. D. James, David McCullough, John McPhee, Chaim Potok, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, John Steinbeck, Barbara W. Tuchman, Donald E. Westlake (Shared favorites)

Real nameDavid Umhauer

LocationDuluth MN

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/bemidjian (profile)
/catalog/bemidjian (library)

Member sinceJul 14, 2006

Currently readingThe religions of the oppressed by Vittorio Lanternari

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With your interest in Minnesota (I was born there myself)and trains I'd like to recommend [The Hinckley Fire] it is a series of first person accounts from the survivors of the fire. The railroad played a big part in getting many of the survivors to safety.
Hi Dave -

It's been a while since I visited here. I stumbled onto another book I thought you might enjoy: The Big Burn by Timothy Egan. The story covers the 1910 wildfires in Idaho and Montana, and the founding of the Forest Service. I don't know if you would rate it as highly as Holbrook's Burning an Empire, but it is very good.
Hey bemidjian--this is to let you know about the poetry reading on Dec. 13 at 2pm at the Snoodle Ceramics Gallery, 7107 Grand Ave in Duluth. Bruce Henricksen, Deborah Cooper, and bart Sutter will read, and ceramic art will be on sale. Admission and snacks are free. for more cal 310-8903.
Finding at Library Thing that we two, only, share The Saga of the Soo, I was prompted just now to investigate your interesting library. You have quite a collection of railroad books.

My father and an uncle, as well as an older cousin, were Soo railroad men in central ND, and they frequently made trips into northern Minnesota. Another cousin, Larry Fisher, eventually became a railroad artist of some note. I'm just old enough to remember when the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's private railroad car traveled through enroute to their ranch in the Canadian Rockies during WWII.
Ooh, you have the job I always wanted when I was a kid. I grew up in a town of 500 people, and the RR went right through town. I was fascinated; used to go over and watch them loading logs. Eventually they got so used to me that they would let me get in the caboose and ride to the next crossing, about a mile away. Then I would have to run like hell to get home before my Mom would notice I was gone! (Don't try that today - invite a 7 year old girl for a ride on the train, and I suppose most people would think you had ulterior motives.)

Kudos to your wife for working at the women's shelter. I could never do anything like that, but I am so glad that we have people who love to do it. One of my sisters is an ER nurse, and the other works with autistic kids. Amazing that they can show up and do that every day.
Hi -Back again, with another suggestion for your wishlist. I keep getting sidetracked from the stack of books I am already reading, because one book leads to another, and another... I noticed that Gary Krist used Ruby El Hult's Northwest Disaster: Avalanche and Fire as a reference for White Cascade. I have had that in my disaster collection for years, so of course I finally decided to read it. It’s OK, but I wouldn’t recommend going out of the way to find it.

I also made a copy of the bibliography from White Cascade, and took it over to Powell’s to see if anything else looked interesting. I grabbed a first edition of Dee Brown’s Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow. Didn’t have time to subject it to my usual 50-page test, but figured I would take a chance, based on the price of $3 and the strength of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

The real treasure I found was Stewart Holbrook’s James J Hill: A Great Life in Brief, apparently one of a series of short biographies published by Knopf in the 50s. This is a tiny book, pocket size and only 200 pages, so I managed to read it all in one night. Holbrook’s narrative is as crisp as you might expect, and he presents Hill in all his complexity, neither idolizing nor demonizing him. Holbrook is quite derisive of the official Hill biography by Joseph Gilpin Pyle. He doesn’t mention the Wellington avalanche, but he does include a few pages on Hill’s agricultural interests, and the failure of dryland farms in eastern Montana, as covered in Bad Land: An American Romance by Jonathan Raban. (Already read that one, so that is one connection I don’t have to follow.) Anyway, since you list Holbrook as a favorite, I thought you might enjoy this brief biography, until a better one comes along.
Summer camp (Concordia) in 1999. I was a teenager, we probably rolled in different crowds. :) But yes, fond memories of Minnesota, also have great memories of canoing/kayaking/camping the Boundary Waters.
Hi Dave – Wouldn’t have thought to find James J Hill in a Sherlock Holmes adaptation! Interesting combination, but I have read all of Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories, so I will see if I can find the one you mentioned.

You asked for more suggestions. Actually, you have already read many of my favorites. What about Wallace Stegner? I see you have read his biography of Bernard DeVoto, but that is really not his best work. Angle of Repose is historical fiction on Western mining towns, and won a Pulitzer. For nonfiction, try Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West.

One other thought – you have The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, but you haven’t rated or reviewed it. If you actually haven’t read it, this historical fiction on Gettysburg is one of the best single-volume books on the Civil War.
Hi Dave - glad you enjoyed The White Cascade. Apparently the author wasn’t too one-sided in his portrayal of James J Hill. I liked the contrast between Hill’s famous temper, and the incident where the laborers weren’t shoveling the snow fast enough to suit him, so Hill got out and shoveled snow himself until each of the laborers had taken a break and had something hot to drink – in his private railcar! This book made me want to read more on James J. Hill. Can you recommend a good biography?

I wrote a review, but it is invisible because I am staying private until they give us a private comments field. I would have liked better maps. The old Great Northern route is now the Iron Goat Trail. If you are interested, you can download a topo map of the Wellington area from the Iron Goat website. Jim Hill Mountain is just east of Wellington, off the upper right edge of the Iron Goat map.

The University of Washington Digital Collections archive has historic photos of the Great Northern.

What a mess with the bridge collapse in the Twin Cities. I hope you don’t have anyone involved there. We know a thing or two about collapsing bridges in the Pacific Northwest. I lived in Seattle for several years, and they tend to celebrate November by sinking a bridge or two – The Tacoma Narrows “Galloping Gertie” bridge in 1940, the Hood Canal floating bridge in 1979, the I-90 Mercer Island floating bridge in 1990.
Your name caught my eye--I spent one of the best summers of my life in Bemidji! Cheers from IL.
Dave: Thanks for stopping by my profile. You're going to have a great time today! If you were working in the Brainard area in the late 60's or early 70's, then maybe I was on your train to Duluth. Have a great time on the Duluth Hogwarts Express!
I've started a group thats dedicated just to discussing HP and the Deathly Hallows. its called HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS ONLY. We could all post about the last book there so that is will be contained and we won;t have to worry as much aobut spoilers. Join when you finish the book.
Hi Dave!

Oh WOW!! How cool are you??!!

I can't wait to read your post!!

Be safe! I'm sure you're gonna have a blast, and lots of great stuff to tell us about at the static Hogwarts Express!

Toot, Toot!! (that's supposed to be a train whistle-lame, I know!)

Gricel in The Bronx :)
Hi Dave - I am glad to see you found White Hurricane to be a pretty good read. I still don't have it, but now I know I want to track it down (great, one more for the ever-expanding wish list). Haven't seen it around here, but it looks like I can order from the publisher.

The little affinity thingy (before it disappeared) was showing you at 99%, which seems odd, because we share less than 10% of my catalog and roughly 3% of yours. I have only a tiny fraction of your RR books, and you don't have any of my quilting books. ;) Then again, you do list David McCulloch, John McPhee, and Barbara Tuchman as favorite authors.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I am currently reading something I think you might enjoy. “The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America’s Deadliest Avalanche” (another white book!) by Gary Krist has it all – railroads, mountains, weather disasters, heroic rescues, and James J Hill.
Thanks for the review of the Tiptree book. I did pick it up and it looks great so far. It is hard to believe how different life is in less than 100 years.
Near, you then, Charleston WV was my last home, Columbia SC before that. I have been through Duluth. Since moving to Bemidji I guess I am getting to prefer small town life. I do love to shop in Grand Forks though.
I still have two more storage buildings to empty out, plus a friends attic and my aunts house. Parting with my book shelves was kind of a wrench also, because I had several in every room and built in ones in the hall of my last house.
Well, there are sad things about moving, but mostly I like to move around. If you graduated in 67 you might know the person I am dating now, I think he graduated in 69 or so. Jim Pierce, he is youngest of 8 kids so you probably went to school with one of them anyway. He used to own Pierce Concrete with his brother.
He is absolutely not a reader, but hey, it could be bad if that is all we ever did. And he is great at building bookshelves!
Hi. I am new to this and I ran across a posting of yours and I couldn't believe someone else from Bemidji was out here. I just moved here last year from a relatively large southern city. Sadly, when running away from home, one does not pack many books - or much of anything else. Good to find a local book lover.
I am a new member and have cataloged only ~200 books so far. Based on our shared titles, I think you might be interested in "White Hurricane: A Great Lakes November Gale and America's Deadliest Maritime Disaster" by David G. Brown. I don't have this one yet but it is on my "track down one of these days" list. See for an overview of the storm.
Thanks for your message. It's good to have you on the Radio 3 Group. I hope that you will contribute from time to time. Happy listening!
Hiya Dave! Thanks for the detailed message. I think Mary Roach is hilariously funny. Who else could take the subject of decaying bodies (ouch!) and write both humorously and informatively about it? I'll look for Spook next time I'm at the book store.

Dave, I'm so glad you're coming on board our book club group. It's inspired me to start my own book club starting in January. Feel free to ask our group some questions, too - everyone's approaching this from very different perspectives, newbie to veteran. Talking about books is sometimes the best fun of reading. :-)

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