ANNALS OF IOWA
BOONESBORO LOST A RAILROAD STATION
Transcribed by Debbie Clough Gerischer
In May, 1856, congress
passed "The Iowa Land Bill," granting lands to the state of
Iowa, to aid in the construction of four lines of railroad
across the state. One of these lines war to run northwesterly
from Lyons, Iowa, to a point of intersection with the Iowa
Central Railway, near Maquoketa, thence running as near as
practicable on the forty-second parallel to the Missouri
The Iowa legislature, by an
act approved July 14, 1856, granted the land insuring to the
state for the construction of said line of railroad to the
Iowa Central Air Line Railroad Company, upon certain
conditions named in the act. The great panic of 1857 put this
company entirely out of business. In March, 1860, the state
resumed the grant and made it over to the Cedar Rapids and
Missouri River Railroad Company, a company organized June 14,
1859, and composed largely of stockholders in the Chicago,
Iowa and Nebraska Railroad Company, already in operation from
Clinton to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Cedar River was bridged at
Cedar Rapids and the railroad built west to Otter Creek in
1860 and 1861, to Marshalltown in 1862, to State Center in
1863, to Nevada by July 4, 1864, and the track laid to Boone
in December, 1864, but the road was not surfaced up and
completed from Nevada to Boone until 1865.
On March 28, 1865, the town
plat of the town of Boone was filed for record by John I.
Blair, who had previously purchased a large portion of the
land where the city of Boone is now located.
The railroad was built from
Marshalltown to the Missouri River, under the management of
John I. Blair, and W. W. Walker* was his chief engineer.
Walker's widow resides in Cedar Rapids with her daughter, Mrs.
A. W. Lee. Her younger daughter, Mrs. Johnson Brigham,
resides in Des Moines.
In July, 1862, the Cedar
Rapids and Missouri River Railroad was leased in perpetuity to
the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad Company, which company
then owned the line from Chicago west to the Mississippi
River, opposite Clinton, Iowa, and operated the Chicago, Iowa
and Nebraska Railroad under lease. The lease covered not only
the portion of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad
then built, by the entire line to the Missouri River, when the
same should be completed to some point on said river.
On June 2, 1864, the Galena
and Chicago Union Railroad was consolidated with the Chicago
and North Western Railway and from that time the operation of
the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad, under the lease,
was by the Chicago and North Western Railway Company.
During the time the
railroad was being built westward from Cedar Rapids across the
state, it was uncertain in the minds of our people in Boone
County just when and where the railroad would be built across
the west half of the state, and at what point it would touch
the Missouri River. Owing to this uncertainty its promoters
were enabled to secure some local aid through the counties
which it finally passed. Our people wanted an outlet for
their products and had already abandoned all hope of ever
getting transportation by way of the Des Moines River, which
they felt could never be made navigable, except during the
high water stages lasting a few weeks in the spring and fall.
Their anxiety was so great that Mr. Walker induced Boone
County to donate its swamp land funds and its unsold swamp
lands to the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad, on
condition that it build its road through this county. The
contract was to be void in case the road was not built ten
miles west from the east line of the county, within a certain
fixed time. This contract was ratified by the voters of Boone
County at a special election held soon after for that purpose.
Boonesboro wanted a depot,
and to this end an agreement was made, and the $10,000 bonus
asked by the company was finally raised, part in cash and part
in notes. Several "railroad meetings" had been held in
Boonesboro to arouse the people and secure this subscription.
Mr. Walker not being satisfied with this arrangement, asked
that the notes be guaranteed by responsible parties, which for
some reason was not done within the time specified.
During the last of those
"railroad meetings" held in the old courthouse for the purpose
of raising the subscription to secure the depot, a little
incident occurred that may be of interest to some of the old
settlers, who looked upon the location of a depot in
Boonesboro as a foregone conclusion. Mr. Blair and Mr. Walker
were in attendance at that meeting and Mr. Walker was called
upon to explain certain matters under discussion. Hardly had
he begun to talk when a man, who had been largely instrumental
in calling this meeting, was seen to walk quietly out of the
room. Mr. Walker, glancing at his overcoat which hung across
the back of his chair, noticed that a package of papers had
been taken from its pocket. Cutting his remarks short, he at
once picked up his coat and, beckoning Mr. Blair, they walked
out of the building and, in a very short time, drove rapidly
away toward Des Moines. Before showing up again they
purchased lands a mile or more east of the courthouse and
subsequently located the depot almost a mile and one-half
northeast of the public square in Boonesboro, and located the
town of Boone on lands purchased for that purpose.
About three years later the
man who carried off Mr. Walker's papers told the writer of
this article that he went directly to the office of Jackson
Orr, a prominent citizen of the county, where together they
examined the sequestered papers and found them to be plats and
surveys, showing the depot located about where it now stands,
and a line of railroad running down a swale to Honey Creek,
thence down this creek to the Des Moines River, leaving
Boonesboro entirely to one side.
The finances of the company
were not at that time sufficient to warrant its acceptance of
the donation raised and the building of its road through
Boonesboro, crossing the Des Moines River over such an
expensive viaduct as the one now spanning the river on the
main line of the Chicago and North Western Railway between
Boone and Ogden. The large saving in the cost of building
down Honey Creek and crossing the river at Moingona, in
addition to the large profits subsequently realized form the
sale of lots in the new town of Boone, might naturally lead
one to the conclusion that at no time had the company
considered locating its depot in Boonesboro.
In July, 1864, congress
made an additional land grant to the Cedar Rapids and Missouri
River Railroad and authorized it to change its line of road so
as to connect with the proposed Union Pacific Railroad at
Council Bluffs. The construction of the line west of Boone
began late in 1865 and the track was laid into Council Bluffs
in January, 1867, but regular service from Woodbine to the
Bluffs was not given until April, 1867.
In 1884 the Cedar Rapids
and Missouri River Railroad was sold to the Chicago and North
Western Railway. It was, in fact, a consolidation, but for
convenience in handling it was made a sale.
The Iowa Railroad Land
Company was organized in 1869 by the stockholders of the Cedar
Rapids and Missouri River Railroad. The land grant of that
railroad company was conveyed to the Iowa Railroad Land
Company September 15, 1869, and in 1887 the Iowa Railroad Land
Company bought from the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad
Company its unsold lands.
The building of the Cedar
Rapids and Missouri River Railroad Company being finished in
1867, the grant was thus matured and perfected. However, it
was not until 1902 that this grant was fully adjusted so that
all tracts granted were definitely known and the companies
given evidence of title thereto.
In June, 1871, the Blair
Town Lot and Land Company took over the unsold town lots and
the purchased lands along the road. It was consolidated with
the Iowa Railroad Land Company in 1888.
The Moingona Coal Company
was organized in June, 1866, and took over from the Cedar
Rapids and Missouri River Railroad Company certain timber and
coal lands, which had been acquired by that company in and
near Moingona, and coal mines operated there for about twenty
years, when the mines closed, and the unsold lands of this
company were conveyed to the Iowa Railroad Land Company.
SPEECH OF BLACK HAWK
American annals contain many orations by, or attributed to,
American Indians. Some of these efforts are among the most
eloquent utterances of any time or tongue. Few readers of
American history have not read and been moved by the words of
Logan, the Mingo, and those of Keokuk, the Sac, and few will
not accord these speeches the credit of having moved nations,
both red and white, to or from war.
A speech of Black Hawk seldom to be found in Iowa
historical sources is presented through the courtesy of Mr. A.
N. Harbert in this number of the ANNALS OF IOWA, in the body
of the reprinted copy of "Galland's Iowa Emigrant." Black
Hawk was a Sac, not a chieftain, however, nor o special fame
except for action in harmony with his own belief of tribal
right. Yet, weighing his words by their results and by the
response in our own natures as we gather their import,
diminished by translation, the utterances of Black Hawk here
presented must take place among the best of Indian efforts
that have come down to us.
Whether Black Hawk ought to have uttered the language
attributed to him, or to have remained silent, and whether he
ought to have followed them up with war or have followed
Keokuk's counsels for peace, is not our present question. But
even white men cannot escape conclusion that from Indian
racial standpoint Black Hawk was consistent in utterance and
heroic in action, nor from the same viewpoint is there escape
from conclusion that Keokuk was inconsistent in utterance and
craven in action. From the white man's standpoint, of course,
one condemns Black Hawk and commends Keokuk. But from every
consideration Black Hawk in this speech rivals Keokuk in the
fair object of all speech, namely, in producing results.
The moving planes of racial or tribal life have ever
produced heat at their friction edges. The Indian life is
ideally typified in the life and words of Black Hawk. The
transition from savage toward civilized life is ideally
typified in the life of Keokuk. The contrast and conflict in
the two lives, if not in their respective utterances, present
the ideal setting for drama in aboriginal life, for they
reveal the elements of American frontier war.
Black Hawk, the loser, was defeated, deposed, driven "forty
miles from the Mississippi," disgraced and denied all but a
few friends at his death and burial at Iowaville. His grave
was desecrated, his bones dragged forth for exhibition about
the country as a curiosity, and only escaped that degradation
by a timely accidental fire. Keokuk, blue-eyed, mixed
blooded, exalted and bonused throughout the era of sale and
dispossession from their ancient lands of his race, was
vouchsafed the honors and ease of royalty until his death in
Black Hawk's was the reward of loyalty to the ideals of a
declining race; Keokuk's the reward of attachment to the
ideals of a race ascendant. Black Hawk's speech, as set out
by Doctor Galland, is among the greatest of the type which, in
face of a lost cause, induces a population to throw its all
upon the altar of its race.