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Pilgrimage by train in 1881


Posted By: JCGS Volunteer
Date: 5/27/2021 at 10:03:21

Poulson’s Pilgrimage.
Editor Clipper:
Since I have changed my whereabouts, I am partially excluded from the “Clipper Family” but hope I may regain my relative position as before. Perhaps it would be of some interest to the readers one may gather while travelling. On leaving the “Spring City” I boarded a freight train to Newton, and left there on the afternoon train. This may seem like home matters, but “there is nothing like having a good foundation,” as the man said that sat down on a pin. But this is off the subject. On and on rolled the Iron horse over the beautiful prairies of Iowa which one could not help admiring. About 12:05 o’clock p.m. (Thursday evening) we were permitted to gaze upon the city of Davenport and the Mississippi river which forms the boundary line between Iowa and Illinois. While crossing over I stood on the platform of the car and took a view of nature’s handiwork which was excellent.
Although the river was frozen over solid, one could imagine how beautiful it would look in mid-summer. After we passed over the bridge I found myself in the city of Rock Island, in Illinois.
Gliding on we were soon in Geneseo, a large looking place as one would view from the cars. Still pressing forward we were to our amazement viewing the city of Chicago, arriving at the Chicago and Rock Island depot at 6:30 o’clock Friday morning. But before I further describe I wish to go back and give a description of the country thus far. From the Mississippi river to Chicago the lay of the land is beautiful and looked productive. The country being so level one could look back from the railroad as far as the optical organ was capable of reaching. From the place of arrival I took the “bus” and was transferred to the Ft. Wayne & Cincinnati depot there remaining until 8:30 o’clock a.m. Now came the grandest sight which came under our observation. Lake Michigan with all the surging waves coming rolling and dashing so as to inspire terror in the heart. The dock yards were not to say crowded with vessels but some were standing there, many of which were being repaired I suppose. The rain gliding along by the lake for several miles gave a chance to view it to one’s satisfaction. But on the opposite side from the lake were forests of evergreens which were arranged by nature in a very singular form. For instance, there was a strip of these beautiful trees, perhaps ten rods wide, running at right-angle to the railroad, then there would be a strip of water about the same width and its length we are unable to give. Many of these similar strips of evergreens and water running parallel to each other came under our notice. Well too much in one place won’t do so we were not fast rolling over the northern part of Indiana which in my estimation was nothing but a swamp. As far as the eye would carry the slough grass was in view, and here and there were men setting fire to the grass to protect their homes, although they looked scarce, as there were no fields of corn joining the railroad as they do in Iowa. The reason is plain for it looks as though a mosquito would __re. But as the iron horse rolled on the country grew better and agriculture seemed to increase until Ft. Wayne was called. It being 12:30 o’clock Friday. Changed cars again but remained until about 5 o’clock in the evening. Ft. Wayne as near as I could guess would compare favorably with Des Moines. Starting south on the Ft. Wayne, Muncie & Cincinnati railroad through the forest of eastern Indiana the sight was something one of a prairie country would not imagine. The country level and the tall forests maybe seen in every direction, and of various kinds of timber. At last I arrived at my destination at 8:12 .m. at Montpelier, a town laid out on the plan of Montpelier in Vermont. Its business capacity is good, although it varies in the articles of trade from those of Colfax. There is at present about four inches of snow and splendid sleighing. The weather cold; many of the old settlers say that this is the steadiest cold weather they have had for several winters.
Well I may tire your patience and I do not wish to. If this find space in your valuable paper I may in the future give a description of the mode of conducting a farm and the manner in which timer is made an article of trade. Resp’y. Wils Poulson
Source: The Weekly Clipper (Colfax, Iowa); Saturday, January 22, 1881, page 4


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