Friday, December 31, 2010

Railroads in Lucas County: 125 Years of History

Written by John Pierce in 1992, Chariton The Early Years

     1992 marks the 125th anniversary of railroads in Lucas County.  In 1867 the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad pioneered its way across Iowa.  The B&MRR arrived in Lucas County in July of 1867.
     These early efforts progressed very slowly.  The B&MRR laid track at the rate of one half mile per day.
     Cyrus Bell relates in the Chariton Leader of 1911, how four Irishmen, who boarded with his grandmother, did most of the grading of a mile of track with wheelbarrows.
     These hard-working souls worked day after day for nearly a year.  This was near the Salem community, and their runways for the wheelbarrow could be seen for fifty years.
     A branch line of the C.B.&Q. (B&MRR) was built from Chariton to Leon in 1871.  The Indianola branch from Chariton through Oakley was completed in 1879.
     Various reports, some turning out to be rumors of railroad activity were headlined in the newspapers of the different eras:
     *The wooden railroad was surveyed from Chariton to Knoxville in 1874.  The rails and ties were to be made of wood.
     *The Northeastern Railroad was organized in 1878.  Its purpose was to build from Oskaloosa to Chariton.
     *1903 brought the Electric Railroad proposal, which was to operate from Chariton to Knoxville.  Smith H. Mallory was the originator, but the proposal surfaced again in 1904 after the death of Mallory.
     *1911 brought surveyors from the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.  They surveyed from the northeast part of the county through the north and northwest section of Chariton.  Some people were convinced the northwestern would beat the Rock Island to Chariton.
     *1911 also brought a surveying crew from the Milwaukee Railroad.  This crew surveyed the east part of the county.
     *Again in 1911, the Wabash Railroad surveyed the east part of the county.  Their route went from Knoxville to Russell.  This route was similar to a route surveyed years ago that went from Knoxville to Zero, a town that lay between Melrose and Russell.

Rock Island Comes to Town




   
  The Rock Island is coming.  Rumors, rumors, rumors abounded everywhere.  At least three survey crews were working in Lucas County in the spring of 1911.
     Rock Island officials would neither confirm nor deny where the actual route would be.
     One survey went along the east side of the county and entered Russell.  This route would have probably been accepted had Russell been the county seat town.
     The Russell route was said to be the most economical as it traversed the coalfields in the northeast part of the county.
     The second route lay to the east of the village of Belinda and would require the least grading and excavating.
     The third route was where the Rock Island was finally built.  The contract was to let to McArthur Brothers of Chicago who sublet to several different contractors.
     The building of the Rock Island was an expensive undertaking.  The Rock Island went across country in a more or less straight line.  This required much grading and excavating.  The cost in Chariton alone was to be in excess of $300,000.
     Work commenced on May 22, 1911 south of Chariton, although contractors worked both directions and in different parts of the county at the same time.
     About sixty houses were moved off the right-of-way in the city of Chariton.  John P. Peam was the first to sign his option, while mayor CP Connell was among the last to move.
     The McCracken brothers, Oscar and Charles, were prime movers during this time.  This outfit from Seymour, not only moved many houses but also moved the huge steam shovels to various locations near Chariton.
     These cranes, one of which is pictured, weighed up to 75 tons.  The McCrackens also moved other eleven-ton locomotives, called dinkeys.
     Don E. Lewis also moved many houses with several being moved on to the railroad grounds for the benefit of employees.
Merchants prepare, camps set
     Many Chariton merchants anticipated a boom with the coming of the Rock Island.
     Charles E. Fluke, the west side book dealer sold several contractors office supplies, which they normally had to send to Chicago for.
     J. A. Evans, a wholesale produce dealer of Lucas, had a carload of potatoes on the track for the various railroad camps.
     Before the contractors started hiring, the railroad camps were located in Chariton.  The camps were occupied by professional grade workers waiting for the work to start.
     The largest of these camps was located near the Burlington Roundhouse.  It contained an estimated 150 men.  These men slept on the ground and cooked and ate meals on open fires.
     Sunday was apparently clean up day as the men took possession of Burlington boxcars in which to bathe.
     Another camp was located in the southeast part of Chariton near the old city park.  This park was very near where the Rock Island and Burlington crossed.
     The men slept on the ground but later when hired by the railroad contractors, they would board in tents.  When one of the laborers was asked about mosquitoes, he replied that the mosquitoes were bad but no worse than bed bugs in a boarding house.
     Later, Greek laborers were brought in for laying track and building the Rock Island yards.  Around 100 Greeks were here at one time
     Once hiring was completed, railroad camps were located on the old Thomas Palmer property in the northeast part of Chariton.  Another camp was located on the Adam Rosa farm in Benton Township.
     Teamsters were kept busy hauling coal and supplies to these camps.  About 20,000 bushels of oats were needed to feed the many horses and mules.  Oats were five cents higher after the railroad commenced building.
     Work progressed on the rock island line from Carlisle to Allerton through the rest of 1911 and all of 1912.  Officials hoped to get the line completed by the winter of 1912, but the cut under the Burlington route wasn't completed until the summer of 1913.
     In an attempt to finish before winter set in, electric lights were installed the length of the line from the Catholic cemetery to the cut under the Burlington.  A double shift was added, but to no avail.
     The first train that passed through on the rock Island line was in July of 1913.  The first freight was delivered to pioneer hardware merchant G.W. Ensley in August of 1913.
Fatalities mar progress
     Three fatal accidents marred the progress of the Rock Island through Lucas County.
     In August of 1911 a trestle gave way south of Chariton allowing fourteen tramcars filled with dirt to fall.  Andrew Anderson was fatally crushed beneath one of the cars.
     In November of 1911, Ola Olson was fatally injured by a premature explosion while dynamiting tree stumps.  Olson was about 40 years of age.  He was from Chicago and was buried at the Chariton Cemetery.
     In January of 1913, Victor A. Banker, a conductor on the work train was killed when crushed between two boxcars.  The accident happened at station No. 8 a few miles north of Chariton.
     The Rock Island has left its mark on Lucas County.  The towns of Williamson and Purdy were established along the Rock Island line.
     Although nothing remains of Purdy, it was a major stockyard for area residents while it existed.  The Rock Island wanted to establish a depot on the Ward Carpenter farm in Benton Township.  However, Carpenter didn't feel justified in making the necessary concessions.
     The Rock Island built reservoirs near Williamson and Allerton, both which still exist today.
     In May of 1913, the Rock Island bought the Inland Coal Mine.  The Inland was located about 2½ miles northeast of Chariton.  The Rock Island extended their line through the Inland Mine to the coalfields of Olmitz and Tipperary.
     Miners were to be housed in Chariton and transported by train to the mines.  The coal company warned Chariton residents that the miners needed adequate housing at cheap prices.
     Many houses were built at this time, including the houses just north of Yocom Park on 7th street.  The coal company also built the houses just east of the Rock island line.  This area was known as "White City" for several years.

Railroads, Depots, Roundhouses and Commercial Avenue Whiskey

Written by John Pierce, Chariton:  The Early Years  Sep 22, 1993


     This week we cover some of the highlights of the C.B.&Q. Railroad in Lucas County.  Originally known as the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, the first train steamed into Chariton on July 4, 1867.
     There have been three Burlington Depots.  The first depot was a small frame station built from an old boxcar.  This boxcar was pushed to Chariton in 1869 by the first train to cross Iowa on the newly finished track to Council Bluffs.  The train was named the "Abraham Lincoln."
     The first depot suffered until 1872, when the magnificent Depot Hotel was built.  This second depot was constructed mainly as a hotel.  It was 189 feet 10 inches in length and 40 feet wide.
     The first story was 18 feet high and was surrounded by a platform 16 foot wide, which circled the depot.  The second story was 14 foot high and contained a stairway to an observatory.
     The Depot hotel also had a cellar 38 by 40 foot.  The cellar could be reached from the dining room or the gentlemen's waiting room.  (There was a separate ladies waiting room.)  Both waiting rooms had separate windows to the ticket office.
     Sam Rheam was one of the first ticket agents.  E.O. Wilson became ticket agent in 1882 and remained until C.T. Stafford became ticket agent in 1911.
     1911 was also when the duties of ticket agent and telegraph operator were combined.  In 1936 W.A. Littleton assumed these duties.
     The rooms in the depot hotel were located on the second floor.  There were 28 rooms when the depot was built, and 36 rooms when the Depot Hotel was torn down in 1942.
     The hotel at the depot was first operated by the David Wormerly family in 1876.  The hotel had stood idle since being built in 1872.  Wormerly furnished the rooms and also served meals to the C.B.&Q. trains for 25 years.
     In the early years, most trains didn't have dining cars.  The trains stopped regularly for crews and passengers to eat.  Several local citizens also had regular tables.
     The hotel part of the depot hotel closed in 1923, which coincides with the opening of the Charitone Hotel on the northeast corner of the Chariton Square.
     The third depot was a modern, efficient structure.  It was built in 1942 at a cost of $30,000 and is still standing at this writing.
Burlington Roundhouses Built
     Burlington's first roundhouse was built in 1879.  It was made out of brick and had stalls for five engines.  This first roundhouse was supposed to be temporary, but lasted until a second roundhouse was built in 1911.
    The new roundhouse had 18 stalls for engines.  This second roundhouse was torn down in 1943, although it had been reduced in size several times the last few years.
     Dan George worked for the Burlington as foreman of the roundhouse from 1925 to 1965.  George's son-in-law Harry Johnson of Williamson remembers helping George start the pump at the reservoir.  This pumped water to the supply tank, located east of the depot, which then supplied the steam engines.
     The roundhouse and turntable was located inside the Burlington "4".  The "4" was formed by the junction of the mainline of the Burlington and the branch line that went to St. Joseph, Mo.
     Ruth George Johnson remembers playing with the turntable at family gatherings.  The turntable was located just outside the roundhouse.
     There was a single rail in a large circle, the circle being about a quarter block in diameter.  An engine could be run on to a platform inside the circle.  Two poles stuck out from each side of the circle.  By using manpower on the poles, an engine could be turned in the opposite direction or rerouted to another branch of the Burlington.
     In 1943 a tandem house, 120 foot long by 20 foot wide, was built as a replacement for the roundhouse.
     The big reservoir to provide water for the C.B.&Q. steam engines was built in 1905.  This reservoir is now used by the country club.
     There were two earlier reservoirs probably in the same area as the country club lake.  These were not always adequate to furnish enough water, in those cases the Chariton River was used.
     Ray Coons remembers that as a young boy fishing on the Chariton River, he saw several planks sticking out of the bank.
     Upon inquiring of older residents, Ray was told that the Burlington used to dam up the river, then pump water to the small reservoirs.  This dam would have been east of the dump road.
Food and Whiskey
   Any history of the Burlington wouldn't be complete without mention of the levee.  Officially known as Commercial Avenue, the levee grew from railroad traffic and supported several businesses, most of which had food, beer or whiskey.
     In earlier times when Chariton was a division point for the Burlington, or when two trains would be in Chariton to meet the daily paper train from Des Moines, crowds would gather that a stranger would mistake for a convention.
     At times when prohibition was in effect, local houses were often raided.  One such raid took place in March of 1899, when Marshall Householder and Constable Hahn raided a house on the levee.
     Twenty-two crapshooters were arrested.  Everybody, including several Russell sports, were fines $3 apiece.  Also confiscated was a large quantity of beer and whiskey.
     The levee has also been the scene of two murders.  The first took place in April of 1886.  Tom Kelley was convicted of killing Charley Archibald.
     One interesting fact concerning Thomas Kelley goes back to 1879 when Sheriff Lyman was murdered.  No names were ever mentioned in connection with the lynching of Hiram Wilson, the accused murderer of Sheriff Lyman.
     The citizens of Chariton seemed to adopt a code of silence concerning the members of the lynch mob.  During testimony in the murder trial of Thomas Kelley, it was revealed that Kelley was the first person to grab Hiram Wilson when the lynch mob battered the door down.
     The second murder took place on the levee in 1911.  Sam Goldwater ran a restaurant in the Crips building.  Goldwater called his restaurant "The Rock Island" and (Like several places on the levee) liquor could be obtained, although to sell liquors was against the law.
     One Denver Breeze, alias Michael McLane, was a constant source of disruption to Goldwater.  On that fateful day in Sep of 1911, Breeze was thrown out of the Goldwater establishment.  Breeze threatened bodily harm to Goldwater and the vent escalated until Goldwater shot Breeze.  Godwater was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to Fort Madison.
     Sheriff Engebretsen took Goldwater to prison and with the help of Doc Brown and Henry Grimes,

Saturday, April 17, 2010

History of Railroads in Derby Iowa

Excerpts from the 1978 Lucas County History Book

The year 1871 found the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in need of a branch line from Chariton Point to St. Joseph, Missouri.  There were times when the Iron Horse pulled such a heavy load that part of the train had to be left at the start of the grade to the plateau known as Tinkletown, and by making two trips he would get the train upgrade.



Since Derby appeared to be an English name and the early settlers were English, Tinkletown was changed to Derby.  Derby is located in Union Township in the county of Lucas (Iowa).  The village was situated on the South Branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.  It was the first station on the road.

While the population in 1880 (174) was not large, Derby was never the less a good point for business as it was situated in the midst of splendid farming country.  The town contained a general store, grain elevators and a post office.  Major Lewis and Mr. Throckmorton bought and shipped large amounts of grain and stock to Chicago.

The depot in Derby was a very busy place.  There were four passenger trains a day.  There were freight trains each way every day.  Early agents were Bill Winslow (20 years) and O.J. Nickols.

Large stock yards were built east of the depot to the north of the switch track.  Farmers hauled their hogs into town in wagons and the cattle were driven into town.  Neighbors helped each other.  When trucking took over the freight business the depot was torn down.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Historic Places - Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Freight House

     In 2004 the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Freight House, at the jct. of Auburn and Brookdale was listed on the National Register of Historic places.  Completed and first occupied in 1904, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Freight House calls attention to the “Golden Age of Railroading” in Iowa and its effects on the commercial growth of Chariton as a southern Iowa wholesale and distribution center. The Freight House possesses an interior space of over 3,700 square feet, and reflects Chariton’s importance as a division point for the CB&Q and the city’s emerging role as a distribution center.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Discontinuance of Passenger Service

From the March 4, 2010 Herald Patriot

40 Years Ago

The Burlington Route asked the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) for permission to discontinue daily operation of its passenger trains No. 11 and No. 12 through Chariton between Chicago and Omaha.  Abandoning of these trains would leave Chariton and other towns along the route without transportation.  Station Agent Don Fuller said an average of six persons weekly board eastbound and westbound trains.
70 Years Ago

Three monster, streamline, diesel-electric locomotives, capable of speeds up to 117 miles an hour, were placed in service by the Burlington Route on main line passenger trains such as the "Exposition Flyer" and "Fast Mail".  At present two of these engines went through Chariton.  The new diesel-electrics were 140 feet long, weighed 308 tons and developed 4,000 horsepower.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Railroad Memories - Jack Prather

This was taken from the Oral History given by Jack Prather done March 6, 2007 in Russell, Iowa

Over the hill, from the old farmhouse, about 2 more miles down into a valley, the railroad came through and there was a big coal mine down there.  He thinks it was the Olmitz mine.  When John, Sr. and Isaac were big enough to handle the lumber, they cut props for the mines.  The mining was pretty big around Russell for quite a while.    The railroad came in from the east and handled all the coal in Lucas County.  Another big mine in this area was just east of Williamson, the Tipperary Mine.  There was a big mine in Williamson and it was one of the last mines to shut down.  The one in Williamson shipped its coal out on another railroad, The Rock Island Railroad.

One thing Jack remembered clearly was the Train Depot on the

North side of the railroad tracks.  Every morning at about nine o’clock, a steamer used to come through Russell with a passenger train.  He wasn’t sure how much it cost to ride it, maybe fifty cents.  It went to Chariton and passengers got off to go shopping or visit friends or family.  About three-thirty or four o’clock a return train came back to Russell.  That’s how a lot of people got to Chariton and back again.  Martin Kenton ran the depot for the railroad.  Jack used the depot to send and receive some of his own freight.  They had a good freight business in those days before trucks took so much of it away from them.  There was a 10 x 15 foot room off the depot that was usually half full of freight.  A fast mail train went through every day picking up the hanging bag of mail without even stopping. 

Jack was involved with cleaning up after the big train wreck that happened near Don Turbot’s house.  Don lived in Omaha at the time and Jack had to handle the details with the railroad for Don.  Jack had been fighting with the railroad for about five years about a drainage ditch at that railroad crossing.  At that time there was no drainage ditch under the tracks, so after every rainstorm, the water backed up against the track and flowed back into the crop fields and ruined the crops.  Jack had the County engineer and the Railroad engineer at the site together and all they would do is argue and end up getting nothing done to take care of the problem.   Jack would walk the tracks with the big shots from the railroad and lots of the railroad ties were rotted out and all of a sudden one afternoon about 2:30 they had a big train derailment.  They piled up 37 cars just like dominos.  There was an old boy in one of the cars with a dog and some other guys’ way down on the end of the train that didn’t get hurt.  No one got hurt.    Lowell Simms was one of the higher ups in the railroad and he came to the scene and rescued the “tattle tales” out of the engines.  A big outfit from St. Louis or Kansas City came up to move the cars off the tracks and get the mess cleaned up.  A couple of hours after the wreck, the sky opened up and dropped about three inches of rain making the clean up almost impossible.  There was a huge lake from the water backing up against the track and all the mud that came with the water.  They rolled in with all this huge machinery and the division superintendent was there.  The superintendent said it was customary for them to get permission from the landowner to operate their machinery to remove the railroad cars. Jack told him he couldn’t give permission until he had talked to Don Turbot, the owner.  The superintendent tried using the threat of “this is Interstate Commerce, so we don’t really need permission”.  Jack replied that Mr. Turbot worked for an insurance company and a whole division of lawyers who might have something else to say about that.  Jack told the Superintendent they could start around the edge of the property, but not to cross over onto the land until he had talked to Don.  Finally Jack got in touch with Don and Jack told him about the situation.  The superintendent told them all the things they were going to do to straighten the land back up, but Don said that’s just fine, go right ahead, but Don wanted them to put everything they were going to do down in writing and witnessed by two people with their signatures.  Jack gave the answer to the Superintendent and he said he had never heard of such a thing.  Well, Jack said, I am just a go-between.  He had the Superintendent go over and talked to Don on the phone.  After the conversation, the Superintendent was still not willing to proceed under these terms.  The Superintendent called the Vice President of the Railroad and explained to him what was causing the delay.  After he heard the explanation, the Vice President told the other Super he had better get that piece of paper signed and get busy cleaning up the mess, no more delays.  There was a carload of really nice big onions and a carload of rice on the train.  The big machinery came in and started to move boxcars and they were so strong they pulled the ends of the cars right off.  They really had power.  Whatever was in the cars got spread all over the ground, onions, rice, and plywood, creating a real mess?  After they got things moved around and stacked up, they had an auction.  A salvage man named Slater, from Salinas, KS came in to do the auction.  He was unable to get around in the mud and had people moving him around the wreckage.  He even flew into Chariton and had a man meet him there with his Cadillac and drive him out to Russell.  Everyone thought Jack was going to get the plywood, but Slater was buying it at a higher price than what Jack could get it brand new, so Jack didn’t buy any of the lumber.  Some of the stuff they just gave to Jack because he hadn’t gotten anything yet.  About a pickup load of stuff.  As far as the onions went, the inspectors decided that if a sack was broke open they condemned them and threw them into a pile, but if the sack was intact, they could sell them.  Jack decided he wanted some of those onions.  He went out there with an end loader to get some and the state inspector said he could not have any of those condemned onions.  Jack asked him what he was going to do with them.  The inspector said he was going to bury them.  Jack immediately told him he was NOT going to bury them.  No one had given him permission to do that or to even be on the land.  Jack told him to get off the land and stay away.  Jack told him there was enough stuff buried around there already, he wasn’t going to bury anything more.  The inspector left.  Later Jack was talking to the Vice President and he said he would like to have some more of those sacks of onions.  Jack had given away most of the loose onions.   But Jack didn’t think he had any left because they had been sold that very afternoon.  The Vice President called down to the wreckage superintendent and asked him if he had ten bags of onions saved back.  The superintendent didn’t think there were anymore.  After asking a couple of times, the wreckage superintendent said, “Oh, yes, we do have”.  So Jack went over there and got a couple of bags of onions.  When they got all done, they gave Jack a cost-plus contract to clean that mess up.  They told him to clean it all up and put a drain under that track like Jack and Don had been asking for, for years.  The contract stated that they could come on the site, but they didn’t have any control of what was being done.  They couldn’t tell Jack what to do.  

Whistle-Stop Tour Burlington Train


From Chariton Leader - June 20, 1995

Special Train to Stop in Chariton

The thunder of steam and nostalgia of days-gone-by will return when Burlington northern Railroad (BN) brings a very special train to Chariton in conjunction with a one-time only "Heartland Whistle-Stop Tour".  The train, made up of a steam locomotive and several restored passenger cars will arrive at the Chariton depot for a whistle-stop on Wednesday, June 21, from approximately 9-8:20 a.m. before leaving for Melrose, where the train will arrive around 8:45 a.m. for a 15 minute stop.

The train's tour, which is being made in conjunction with several community celebrations in which BN historically provides train equipment displays, begins June 13 and concludes June 26.

When the trip is completed, the train will have made stops in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois, thus the name "Heartland Whistle-Stop Tour".  The train will go from Kansas City, north to Lincoln, Nebraska, and east to Galesburg, Illinois, before returning to St. Louis, where the steam locomotive is stored.  There will be about 10 scheduled stops along the train's route.

In Lincoln, the train will be displayed during the annual Haymarket Heydays celebration June 16-18, and in Galesburg for the annual Railroad Days activities June 23-25.  The visit to Lincoln is especially significant as this year marks the 125th anniversary of the completion of the rail line, then the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, coming to the city.

"Our railroad shares a rich past and a bright future in the communities in which we operate, BN people and customers work and live nearby, and this train is a way for us to show our appreciation for the partnership we have developed over the years," says Dan Watts, general manager for BN's Central Corridor, which encompasses most of the Midwest.

While the train will feature restored passenger cars, the star of the show is steam Locomotive 1522.  Built in 1926 for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway-commonly called the Frisco-the locomotive was restored to its glory in 1988.  It is the only operational mountain-type locomotive in the United States and its restoration is considered to be one of the finest in the nation.  It took 31 months to restore the locomotive, which was stripped down and completely reassembled for historical accuracy using modern materials when possible.

Steam locomotives, which revolutionized land transportation and led to the nation's westward development, are numbered these days.  Most steam locomotives were retired with the advent of diesel locomotives and cut up for scrap.  Approximately a dozen steam locomotives of this size have been restored and are in operation today in the United States.  Coming with the 1522 is a St. Louis Steam Train Association volunteer crew of about 20, who must water and lubricate the engine every 100 miles.

There are seven BN passenger cars on the "Heartland Whistle-Stop" train, measuring approximately 900 feet long.  Three coach cars, the Flathead River, Skagit River and Fox River, and the Glacier View, an elegantly refurbished dome/lounge car built in 1955 that features a dining area, lounge and theater, will be on the train.  The remaining cars are support cars.  BN's fleet of business cars is maintained in Kansas City.

Headquartered in Fort Worth, BN operates the longest U.S. rail system based on miles of road and second main track, with 24,500 miles reaching across 25 states and two Canadian provinces.  Burlington Northern Railroad was formed in 1970 from a merger of more than 330 predecessor railroads and celebrated its 25th anniversary on March 2.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Old No. 35 Parades through Chariton

From the Chariton Leader - Feb 7, 1933

Old Style Burlington and Missouri River Engine on Way to World's Fair

Natives stood aghast as Old No. 35 paraded through Chariton 50 years ago and they did the same thing yesterday.  One of the first engines in service west of the Missouri River spent last night in the Burlington yards here.  At 7:00 a.m. today it was taken in tow by a slow freight for the remainder of its journey from Lincoln, Nebraska to Aurora, Illinois.

At the Burlington shops in Aurora it will be reconditioned for exhibition at the Chicago World's fair.

Replete with brass work, it seemed almost like a toy when compared with engines of a more modern period.  Stream lines were evidently not in vogue back in the 80's when No. 35 made its bow on the old Burlington and Missouri River line.  To support the cow catcher alone four wheels are needed.  Between it and the boiler is an open space which has an apparent purpose.

The pride of No. 35 must have been its large, shining bell, which today could no doubt be put to service in a church or school.  Ot it might have been the smoke stack which seems to almost make it top-heavy.  Beginning in rather unobtrusive fashion, the stack becomes ambitious as it reaches the sky and branches out to resemble a tub perched atop a stove pipe.

The Burlington and Missouri River line was the original name of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad, according to L.T. Stewart, freight agent for the Burlington in Chariton.  As the engine was among the first 35 to be used on the old road, it is believed to be more than fifty years old.


Stewart stated that it had been exhibited in Denver and other points farther west, and had more recently been a center of attraction at the Nebraska State Fair at Lincoln. 


Because of its age, the engine is being moved in easy stages to Aurora.  Only the slower freights are used to tow it, as a fast ride would no doubt tear it in pieces, Stewart said.


The engine arrived in Chariton Wednesday.  Large numbers braved the icy blasts which swept the yards during the afternoon to view one of the oldest railroad pioneers.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Railroad Stories

From Chariton Democrat - March 4, 1917

No. 7  -   May Pass Up Chariton

It is rumored that the fast mail train No. 7 will soon quit stopping in Chariton, and will make a direct run through the city the same as in smaller towns, simply throwing off the mail for this town and the south branch and by means of a hook catch the mail from Chariton going west from a crane as they speed by.  Week before last City Marshal Jones arrested No. 7's crew for running through the city at an unlawful rate of speed.  The railroad company is under contract to get the mail through to a given point in a certain length of time, and we understand that they think they cannot continue to make the stop here and run through our town at a slow rate of speed.  We hope that the rumor is unfounded and that the change will not be made.
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From the Chariton Leader - February 17, 1910

 Railroad Notes 

The new steel water tank, erected by the Burlington railroad company here, cost $1,200.  Within a short time the company expects to erect canopies for the benefit of passengers getting on and off of trains.  There is good prospect tat a train on the south branch will be put on, reaching Chariton in the morning and returning south in the evening.
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From the Chariton Leader - February 17, 1910

Railroad Postal Clerks

Thirty Railroad Postal Clerks make their headquarters and reside in Chariton.  They are a fine lot of men and wield a good influence on the social and commercial affairs of the place.  The names of these gentlemen are:
T.W. Johnston                      Frank Fike
Ed A. Eppler                          M.A. Williams
Chas. Hass                             J. Clarence Smith
S.S. Shippy                             Fred Roberts
George Pringle                      Granville Foster
W.B. Aten                               P.E. Vail
Carl Andrews                        C.l. Andrews
D.L. James                             Fred H. Larimer
D.P. Luce                                Fred Householder
William Collyer                      Leroy Telcott
Ralph E. Dotts                       Fred Updike
A.R.                                         M. E. Williams
Stan Hooper                           Frank Stierwall
J.C. Bennett                           Ralph Bowen
Roy Stroud                             E.H. Starr
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From the Chariton Leader - December 1910

Railroad News

The Rock Island surveyors are still at work in Chariton and vicinity and are making a careful survey of the country and route through the city.  The permanent route crosses Court Avenue in the middle of the fourth block east of the square and the probabilities are that the station will b located on Court Avenue.  At least that is what the chief engineer said seemed likely.  The plat of city property along the surveyed route through town has been completed, values marked and names of owners appended.  Also the plat of farms through the county has been made, with owners' names attached, so it would not be surprising to hear from this soon.  A detachment of the surveying squad were sent over the line to Corydon on the first of the week to correct up and when they return that part of the work will be finished.
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From the Creston Gazette - October 26, 1916

New Burlington Train
To Reach Chariton early in Morning - Going West

The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company has announced that a fast express train is to be put on the main line between Chicago, Illinois and Lincoln, Nebraska, commencing on the morning of October 29th.  This train will start from Chicago at 10:45 p.m., with ten coaches, setting off two express cars at Galesburg, Ill.; one at Burlington, Iowa; one at Ottumwa, Iowa and one at Chariton, Iowa.  The rest of the train will then go direct to Lincoln, Nebr.  This train which starts from Chicago at 10:45 p.m. will arrive in Creston, Iowa the next morning at 7:53 and leave at 7:55, only staying here two minutes to change engines.  Two minutes is the shortest stop on the entire trip, and shows the efficiency which the Creston division is capable of doing its work.  This train will arrive in Omaha at 10:40 in the afternoon and then on to Lincoln.
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A Palace on Wheels

From the Chariton Patriot - September 18, 1902


The Burlington Route is at the front.  Recently a Patriot representative had the pleasure of a trip in the new combination car, Illinois, which the Burlington route has added to its already superior equipment.  It is in fact a palace on wheels, combining an observation parlor apartment, an elaborately furnished café, and perfectly fitted up cuisine, upon scientific lines, where the "inner man" can be refreshed upon the best that money and unsurpassed culinary art can furnish.  This car is seventy-six feet long.  The café apartment elegantly furnished throughout, has a seating capacity of sixteen, the table furniture comprising line of solid silver and Haviland china, beautifully designed and manufactured expressly for the Burlington.  A smoker, cozy and restful, is also an attractive feature, where the after dinner cigar can be quietly enjoyed.  The parlor apartment occupies the rear portion of the car, contains ten large easy chairs all of which are upholstered in dark green leather, the floors covered with fine Wilton carpets, while the curtains are of green tapestry.  The interior wood work is fine grained oak, so perfectly finished as to resemble cherry, while at the rear is an observation platform from which travelers are afforded an unobstructed view of the country through which they are passing.  It is the very perfection of elegance and comfort in travel.  

For this spendid service the company charges for the use of the observation and parlor car the small additional sum over the regular fare of $1 from Chariton to Chicago, 15 cents to Ottumwa or Creston; to Omaha 50 cents, with the added convenience of the café, where meals are furnished at reasonable rates.

Our representative gratefully acknowledges many kindly courtesies extended by Conductor R.C. Dodge, W.B. Dunington, chief attendant in charge; Samuel Brown, chief; and porter, John M. Richardson, who comprise the efficient crew of the Illinois.  This car is attached to trains No. 4 and 13, and is a duplicate of four others lately put in service by the Burlington.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Charles Elliott Perkins

Charles Elliott Perkins, president of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, was very confident this line would eventually extend as far as Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa and his lobbying, made sure it was built.  July of 1867, it reached Chariton and continued west to the Missouri River and beyond.

Burlington, Iowa was his home and he lived there on his estate, The Apple Trees.  His home is no longer on the property, which has been turned into a city park.  Although he lived part time in Iowa, he died in Boston in 1907, and was buried there.

Under Perkins' guidance as a thoughtful, considerate manager, he went on to build the C.B.&Q., into one of the nation's major rail carriers.  Nearly everyone, from railroad workers to passengers and beyond, respected and admired the accomplishments of this man. 

The Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, as the C.B.&Q. was originally called, was the main line across Southern Iowa and through Chariton.  The building of this rail had stalled in Ottumwa in 1859 and went no further until after the Civil War.  Perkins' faith and dedication soon convinced rail investors it would be a paying proposition.  The railroad is now called Burlington, Northern and Santa Fe.

At the Aspen Cemetery in Burlington, his family erected a large, tall, four sided stone pillar tapering to its pyramidal top to memorialize him.  Since it was situated near the C.B.&Q. main line, passing trains would sound their whistles as they passed by.

Southern Iowa was where railroading began, primarily in Burlington, so the area is filled with memories of the C.B. & Q.  The cemeteries in the city have many people connected to railroading buried within their boundaries.

Another area of the country is also grateful to this magnanimous man.  Colorado Springs, Colorado public park, "The Garden of the Gods" is a magnificent splendor to behold.  It's amazing rocks rise high above the ground they rest on.    Charles Perkins purchased 480 acres (280 acres for a summer home, which he never built) and later his children donated the land to the city of Colorado Springs for a free area for visitors to observe, hike, walk, bike ride and horseback ride across.  One of the most popular trails is the Perkins Trail.  No intoxicating liquors are allowed, no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Railroad - Susan Day Book - 1915

In 1864 William Nelson built the first house in what is now Russell.  It stood in the northwest part of the village across the street west and a little south from the property now owned by Harry Latham.  This was the only residence in the immediate vicinity when in 1865; the permanent survey was made for the railroad.  In 1866 the grading for the road was carried forward as rapidly as the work could be done at that early day.  When extremely cold weather set in the grading was finished to a point about half way between Melrose and Russell, where the winter was spent by the laborers, and early in the spring of 1867 the work was resumed and the track laid.  The first passenger train to run over the road was on July 3, 1867.
    When the track was laid the company bought thirty acres of land of William Nelson, at ten dollars an acre, upon which was to be built the town.  The first depot was built that spring on the south side of the track, north and a little east of where the hotel now stands.
    The original town was platted by H. S. Russell, trustee for the owners of the land, on the 8th of October 1867, and contained two hundred and nine lots.  It was laid out somewhat irregularly in order to conform to the direction of the railroad through it. 

Railroad Depot in Russell

The Railway Depot at Russell sat on the north side of the tracks.  There were two sets of rails and a siding at the depot.  A large wheel cart was there for freight and luggage.  In the early 1930’s one train going west, stopped about 10 or 10:30am for passenger pick up and loading, as well as various other supplies.  The time of the return stop, going east, is unknown.

Some of the other trains carried mail, and it was thrown or “booted off” the moving train.  Mail pickup was done from a post, which had two arms extending toward the train.  A mailbag would be hung on these arms.  When the train passed by the people in the mail car would hook the bag and pull it into the car.  Most communications with the depot to the railroad was done by telegraph.  Their phone lines were not reliable in the early days.

The hotel, that Glenn mentioned, was across the tracks from the depot.  It along with much of the town faced the tracks.  Another hotel and a good part of Russell were destroyed by fire.  This little depot was torn down in the 1960-70’s.

(A note from the writer:)
There were very few cars or trucks and the roads to run them along.  Therefore, things carried to and from the train were by horse and wagon, which was known as dray.  The railroad was a very important part of the rural community.  They depended on it to bring supplies, dry goods, tools and machinery and even carrying livestock.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mark Twain Zephry

From the Russell Union Tribune
October 17, 1935
Mark Twain Zephyr Ready for Christening

Now the Burlington Zephyr fleet of Stainless Steel Streamlined Diesel powered trains number four.  The latest edition, which will be christened Mark Twain - a four-car speed marvel -, is ready for a brief tour of the East prior to its regular entry in Burlington service.

On October 25, at Hannibal Missouri, so long associated with the Mark Twain saga, Miss Nina Gabrilowitsch, only grand-daughter of the immortal author will christen the shovel nosed marvel with Mississippi River water gathered from many spots along 'Old Man River' from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.  This will be the high spot of the Mark Twain centennial that has attracted thousands of visitors to the quaint old Missouri town all during the current year.

The Mark Twain Zephyr is scheduled to enter regular daily round trip service Monday, October 28, between St. Louis, Missouri and Burlington, Iowa, along the west bank of the Mississippi.  It was named the "Mark Twain" because its route lies through Hannibal Missouri, romantic old-time river town, which was the home of the great American author for many years.  The tracks over which the ultra-modern streamliner will speed ran right along the self-same old levee where began his career as pilot of a side-wheeler.  Appropriately, the cars of the train will bear the names of his best-known characters, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Becky Thatcher and Injun Joe.

Like the other three Burlington Zephyrs, the new train is self propelled, built of stainless steel with bullet-shaped front and rear, and satin-smooth, unpainted exterior, scientifically streamlined for beauty, speed and fuel-economy.

The new Zephyr, like its predecessors, is capable of a cruising speed approximating 100 miles per hour.  It is propelled by electric power generated by a 400 horsepower, 8 cylinder, 2-cycle Diesel engine; burn ordinary fuel oil and has no spark plugs or ignition system of the sort used in gasoline engines, combustion being accomplished wholly through high compression.  It is 280 feet long and has seats for 93 passengers.  Its weight is 287,000 pounds, which is considerably less than that of two modern sleeping cars.

The first of its four cars contains the power plant, a compartment for the handling of U.S. Mail and a section for baggage.  The second car consists entirely of baggage space.  The third car includes a kitchen, a dining room with seats for sixteen and a coach compartment for twenty passengers.  The fourth car has coach seats for forty passengers and a parlor lounge room for sixteen.

The train is air conditioned by a special system that supplies filtered and washed air to all passenger compartments, and its perfect functioning is aided by hermetically sealed windows of safety glass having an air chamber between double panes to preclude frost and condensation and to afford insulation against heat, cold and sound.

The three Zephyrs in current operation have established new records for daily mileage, speed and passenger capacity.  Up to September 30, the Diesel mileage of these stainless steel innovations carrying the Burlington trademark had registered 450,628.

All four Zephyrs are the product of the Edward G. Budid Manufacturing Company, with the co-operation of General Motors, General Electric and Burlington engineering genius.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rail Transportation


Portions of the following came from the 1978 Lucas County History Book

In 1867 the C.B. & Q. came through Chariton and branches followed in a few years.  There were as many as 12 passenger trains a day stopping in Chariton.  Between Chariton and Lacona, there were as many as 6 trains a day.  The C.B. & Q. line contained a station, a depot for freight and passengers, dining hall, hotel, telegraph point and large waiting rooms.  The depot was built in 1872.  A smaller depot replaced the larger one in 1943. 

Before World War I, one person in every 35 was employed by the railroad, but 50 years later only one in 300.  Generation after generation worked for the railroad making it almost like a family.

Coal mines, farmers, families all relied on the railroad for their business and their everyday existence.

As time went by, the government took over the railroads and the rail business began to decline and rails were not kept in good condition.  Trains no long stop in Lucas County, only a whistle acknowledges their passing through.

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The first train, to go over the tracks of the C.B. & Q. Railroad, was the "Abraham Lincoln" in 1869.  A small frame station built from an old boxcar pushed to the site by the first train; was the first station.

S.H. Mallory and John Fitzgerald held the contract for building the bridge on this section of the road, which was completed in 1867.  Chariton became a division point where the station was built after the extension of the road west and the construction of the south branch to St. Joseph, Missouri and the north branch to Indianola.

The next C.B. & Q. (short for Chicago, Burlington and Quincy) Passenger Station, built in 1871-1872, was the social center of Chariton and one of the show places on the Burlington Railroad line.  It was constructed as a hotel in the very beginning with division and telegraph offices located in a corner on the second floor.  The building became a famous institution.  The baggage room was in the south end of the building, then the women's waiting room, the ticket office, the men's waiting room, double doors led into a long narrow hotel lobby with chairs around the walls.  The lobby ran east and west with the desk and chairs on the east.  Double doors led from the lobby into the dining room. For a time, a circular lunch counter ran through the women's waiting room, past the ticket office and into the men's waiting room.  This was later moved into the dining room.  Trains stopped in Chariton because many of them did not have diner cars.  Passengers and crews were able to get off the train to eat.  Sometimes the trains ran into snow blockades and several hundred passengers were taken care of in this building.  On Sundays a lot of local residents patronized the depot restaurant.  The spacious dining room saw many social gatherings. 

Many railroad families lived in Chariton. After the Chariton Hotel was constructed in 1923, the 36-room hotel in the depot was discontinued.  With modern long hauls and high-speed trains, there was no need for Chariton to be a division point.
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