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Missouri State Archives
Missouri Railroad Pioneer: The Life of Louis Houck

Presented by:
Joel P. Rhodes


Publish Date:
June 24, 2010


Presentation Length:
47 minutes 11 seconds (47:11)


Description:
Known as a lawyer, journalist, entrepreneur, historian and philanthropist, Louis Houck is also considered the "Father of Southeast Missouri." Houck brought the railroad to the region and opened the area to industrialization and modernization. In this new biography, Joel Rhodes tells how this self-taught railroader constructed a network of 500 miles of track through the wetlands known as "Swampeast" Missouri from 1880 to the 1920s. These "Houck Roads" provided a boost for population, agriculture, lumbering and commerce that transformed Cape Girardeau and the surrounding area. In telling the story of Houck's railroading enterprise, Rhodes chronicles Houck's battle with the Jay Gould railroad empire and offers key insight into the development of America's railway system, from the cutthroat practices of ruthless entrepreneurs to the often-comic ineptness of start-up rail lines.


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