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1914 County History
Internal Improvements

In this year 1914 of the Christian Era, when the citizen of Lee County has occasion to make a short journey from home, he can hitch his horse to a buggy or step into his automobile and glide along over an improved highway to his destination. If he desires to take a longer journey, he can take his seat in a reclining chair car, or a Pullman coach, on one of the great railway systems of the country and be transported across the country at the rate of fifty or sixty miles an hour. But does he pause to think how all these conveniences were brought about for him to enjoy? Let him for a moment draw upon his imagination for the conditions that existed in what is now Lee County in 1833, when the United States acquired full title to the lands of the Black Hawk Purchase and threw them open to settlement.  

Then all the Forty Mile Strip was "fresh from the hands of Nature," inhabited only by wild beasts, untutored savages, a few hunters, trappers or agents of the great fur companies, with here and there an actual settler, who had "come to stay." Through the forests or over the prairies wound an occasional Indian trail, and these trails were the only thoroughfares. No roads had yet been opened by the white man for his convenience and accommodation, the streams were unbridged, and frequently some emigrant would have to wait on the bank of a creek for the waters to subside before he could continue his journey. 

River Transportation

In that early day the rivers of the country were the arteries of commerce. It was therefore natural that the first settlement should be made near the Mississippi River, so that the pioneers could keep in touch with the outside world by means of the steamboats plying upon the great Father of Waters. Although the Mississippi is not an "internal improvement," in the strict interpretation of that term, it is deemed appropriate to incorporate in this chapter a brief account of the early steamboat traffic, as it was by this medium that the early merchants received their consignments of goods, and the first settlers were dependent upon this traffic for the supplies. 

Among the early steamers on the Mississippi was the Shamrock, commanded by Capt. James May, which made regular trips as early as 1 82 1. Contemporary with the Shamrock were the Red Rover and the Black Rover, the last named captained by George Throckmorton, a veteran river man. In 1828 the Mexico, while attempting to descend the Des Moines Rapids, struck upon a rock and sprang a leak. Isaac R. Campbell, a passenger on the boat, dived into the water and thrust a blanket into the hole, partially stopping the rush of water into the hold. Pumps were set to work and the Mexico managed to reach Nashville (now Galland), where she sank. The wreck was raised some years later by workmen upon the Government canal. 

In 1832 the Winnebago, Thomas O'Flatherty, master, made its appearance on the Upper Mississippi, and about the same time the William Wallace entered the Keokuk trade. The second Keokuk packet was the Rosalie, which made regular trips between that city and Quincy, Illinois, under command of Captain Cameron. In 1836 the Adventurer, Captain Van Houton, came up the river from St. Louis to Keokuk. 

The Mechanic, another early steamboat, made regular trips up and down the river until she was sunk by striking upon the big rock near the Iowa shore at the head of the Des Moines Rapids in 1830. This bowlder was afterward known as Mechanic's Rock. The Illinois, Capt. Robert McAllister, was wrecked upon the same rock some years later. 

Other early packets were the General Brooks, Osprey, Senator, Gipsey, Lucella and Prairie Bird. The Osprey was once owned by Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, who sold her to George C. Anderson, Keokuk's first banker. The Gipsey was the first Mississippi River boat to be equipped with a calliope, and as she approached a landing it was the custom of the musician to "turn loose" with such patriotic airs as "Hail Columbia," "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Yankee Doodle," while the entire population of the little village would cease work to listen to the music. The Prairie Bird was wrecked a short distance above Keithsburg, Illinois, and remained submerged until removed by the Government in 1889. She was commanded by Larry McDonald, who became noted at the time of the Civil war for his attempt at reprisal on Lake Erie in the interests of the Southern Confederacy. 

In 1857 tne °ld Northern Line established a regular schedule for boats between St. Louis and St. Paul. The boats of this line were the W. L. Ewing, Henry Clay, Metropolitan, Fred Lorenz, Belle, Canada, Minnesota and Pembina — all sidewheelers except the Lorenz. These boats were the finest ever seen upon the river up to that time and did much to stimulate both commerce and travel. 

A little later the White Collar Line was started by Commodore Davidson. The boats of this line were the Northwestern, War Eagle, Grey Eagle, Belle of La Crosse, Northern Light, Golden Eagle, S. S. Merrill, Phil Sheridan and Hawkeye, and perhaps one or two others. They were distinguished by broad white bands painted upon the smokestacks, from which the line took its name. 

It was not long until the competition became so great between these rival lines that both transportation companies were operating their boats at a loss — or, if not at actual loss, without profit. The Northern Line was then sold to the Davidson interests and for several years the steamers earned good dividends upon the investment. With the building of railroads, the river business declined. As old boats went out of commission they were not replaced. In course of time the White Collar Line became known as the Diamond Jo Line of steamers, and later as the Streckfus Line, the principal boats of which in 1914 were the Saint Paul, Quincy and Dubuque.

The Government Canal 

With the increase of population along the Upper Mississippi came a demand for better transportation facilities. The greatest obstacle to the navigation of the river was the Des Moines Rapids, the head of which was near the present Town of Montrose and the foot at Keokuk. In this eleven miles the fall was twenty-two feet and the average depth of the water over the rapids was not more than three feet at any time, except in periods of high water. Upon the bed-rock were diagonal ridges, called "chains" by the river men, which made the channel tortuous and uncertain, and in low water navigation was an impossibility. To overcome this condition of affairs keelboats were introduced for lightening purposes. These boats, propelled by poles or towed by horses or oxen, would carry the cargoes over the rapids, the steamer following, and at the head of the rapids the boat would be reloaded. Isaac R. Campbell is said to have been the first man to conduct a keelboat lighter over the rapids. Later the larger flatboat was introduced, and it in turn was superseded by steam towboats. 

As early as 1830 the river men began to agitate the subject of improving the river so that boats could pass the rapids. In 1837 Lieut. Robert E. Lee made a survey and map of the rapids, and suggested certain lines of improvement. Subsequently another survey was made by Lieut. G. K. Warren, but more than a quarter of a century passed before any definite action was taken by the Government. During that time the cost of lighterage averaged more than a quarter of a million dollars annually. In 1866 Gen. J. H. Wilson was placed in charge of the Des Moines and Rock Island rapids of the Mississippi. Under his supervision an independent ship canal was constructed from Nashville to Keokuk — nearly eight miles. 

Work was commenced on this canal in 1868. The plans called for a canal 250 feet in width and to have a depth of not less than five feet in extreme low water. Three locks were provided for — a guard lock at the upper end of the canal and lift locks at Sandusky and the foot of the rapids. The original estimate of the cost was $2,710,000, but before the canal was finished it cost $4,500,000. It was formally opened to traffic, on August 22, 1877. The opening was attended by large delegations of business men from St. Louis and other cities along the Mississippi, who saw in the canal a great advantage to river commerce. This canal continued in use until it was replaced by the great power dam at Keokuk. 

Des Moines River Navigation

As the settlements gradually extended back from the Mississippi, efforts were made to ascend the Des Moines River with steamboats of light draft, in order to open up trade with the interior. Charles Negus, in an article published in the Annals of Iowa, says: 

"In 1836 the Sacs and Foxes, having disposed of their reservation on the Iowa River, where they had villages, moved west and settled in the valley of the River Des Moines, in which is now Wapello County, and, as a natural consequence, trading posts were established in this vicinity, which had to be supplied with goods. In the fall of 1837, the few settlers along the banks of this river were for the first time gladdened with the sound of the shrill whistle of a steamboat, making its way up the river with supplies for these trading posts. 

This boat was the S. B. Science, commanded by Captain Clark, which, by forcing its way against the swift current, passing safely over the concealed sandbars and hidden rocks, demonstrated that the waters of this river, at high stages, were navigable, much to the joy and satisfaction of those who lived in the vicinity, and afforded a theme for pleasant conversation for days and months." 

In the same year (1837), when there was a good stage of water in the river, the Pavillion, Capt. William Phelps, reached Fort Dodge and created the impression that the Des Moines was navigable, at least for the greater part of the distance between that point and the mouth. The Otter and the Dove were also early steamboats to ascend the river, but only for a comparatively short distance. 

When Fort Des Moines was established by the Government in May, 1843, where the City of Des Moines now stands, the little Steamer lone carried the detachment of troops and their stores up to that point. The successful voyage of this boat added greatly to the belief that the Des Moines was, or could be made, navigable, and on August 8, 1846, President Polk approved an act of Congress granting to the Territory of Iowa alternate sections of land, in such of the public domain as was unsold, in a strip five miles wide on each side of the river, "for the purpose of aiding said territory to improve the navigation of the Des Moines River from its mouth to the Raccoon Fork," etc. 

Iowa was admitted as a state on December 28, 1846, and the land grant was accepted by the Legislature on January 9, 1847. Two years later Samuel R. Curtis was employed to make a survey of the river and report plans for improving the navigation. He proposed a svstem of locks and dams, three of which and a canal were put under contract, but none was ever completed according to the original plans. Concerning the land grant and the manner in which the improvement was handled, Mr. Negus says: 

"This was a most magnificent grant, embracing some of the best lands in the state; and if the proceeds had been judiciously and properly expended, would have made a great thoroughfare for steamboats, besides affording an immense water-power for driving machinery. But, through the incompetency of managing the means and the intrigues of designing men, the whole of the lands below the Raccoon Fork, and a large quantity above, were disposed of and very little practical good accomplished toward the navigation of the river. 

Meantime boats continued to ascend the river to Farmington, Keosauqua and Ottumwa, and occasionally one went up as far as Des Moines. Among these early Des Moines River steamers were the Agatha, Captain May, which made two or three trips in 1843; the Kentucky in 1849 and the Jenny Lind in 1850, both commanded by Capt. J. C. Ainsworth; the Maid of Iowa, Capt. William Phelps, in 1 85 1. During the next five years the Colonel Morgan, Michigan, Revenue Cutter, Defiance and George H. Wilson all ascended the river, a few going as far as Des Moines. In 1856 Captain Wilson took the Charles Rogers up as far as Fort Dodge, and the same year the Jennie Dean, a large Keokuk packet, went up as far as Croton. In the latter '50s the Belfast, Captain Milburn, the Des Moines, the Belle and the Flora Temple were engaged in the Des Moines River trade. Then came the railroads and efforts to navigate Iowa's longest river came to an end. The last navigation of the Des Moines, of which there is any record, was in 1894, when "General" Kelly's "Army of the Commonweal" floated down from the City of Des Moines to Keokuk in such craft as could be picked up or hastily constructed. 

Public Highways

When the first white men came to Iowa, the only roads were the Indian trails, which wound by sinuous courses along the lines of least resistance. Where these trails were convenient they were used by the early settlers until better roads could be opened. The first highways constructed by civilized man were crude affairs — usually a route marked out at will, the trees blazed through the woodlands, with here and there a few trees removed to permit the passage of vehicles. Low places were filled with small logs, thrown crosswise of the driveway, thus forming the famous old "corduroy" road, which was neither easy on the team nor comfortable for the driver, but it kept the wagon from "miring down." 

In May, 1837, the Legislature of Wisconsin, of which territory Lee County was then a part, passed an act authorizing the opening of a territorial road west of the Mississippi. The field notes of the survey, filed with the supervisor in the following September, show that this road in Lee County followed a course beginning at the county line in the northeastern part "via the south branch of Lost Creek, the main branch of Devil Creek, crossing both East and West Sugar Creeks, thence to the Des Moines River, a distance of twenty- four miles." 

The first board of road commissioners in Lee County, elected on April 3, 1837, was composed of Samuel Hearn, E. D. Ayres and Samuel Perkins. They met for the first time on September 2, 1837, and declared the following roads to be public highways: 1. From Fort Madison to the northern boundary of the county, towards Augusta, Des Moines County. 2. From Fort Madison, through West Point, to the western boundary of the county. 3. From Hearn's Ferry, on the Des Moines River, to Fort Madison, "beginning on the bank of the Des Moines River at Hearn's Ferry, thence north and east (by certain described courses) to Fort Madison." 

To provide for the opening and improvement of these highways, the county was divided into nine road districts and an overseer or supervisor appointed for each. District No. 1 included that part of the road from Fort Madison north to the county line, from the cross street running past the house of the late Nathaniel Knapp to E. D. Ayres' house, George M. Ball, overseer. District No. 2 included the remainder of that road, from the house of E. D. Ayres to the county line, Isaac Briggs, overseer. 

The road from Fort Madison west to the county line, through West Point, was made to include Districts 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. District No. 3 began at the grading on the Mississippi River and followed the West Point survey to the top of the bluff, Joseph Morrison, overseer. District No. 4 began at the top of the bluff and extended "out to the first large branch, on the west of George Herring's house." No overseer named. District No. 5 commenced at the branch above named and terminated at the public square in the Town of West Point, Lewis Pitman, overseer. District No. 6 extended from the public square in West Point to the crossing of Sugar Creek, on the road leading to Tuscarora, Solomon Fein, overseer. District No. 7 joined Fein's at the ford across Sugar Creek and extended in the direction of Bentonsport to the county line, John B. Perkins, overseer. 

Districts 8 and 9 embraced the road from Hearn's Ferry to Fort Madison. Theophilus Bullard was appointed overseer for District No. 8, which included that part of the road from the town plat of Fort Madison to the crossing of Devil Creek, and District No. 9 included the remainder of the road, for which Johnson Meek was appointed overseer. 

Boundaries for each district were established and the overseers were authorized to "call out all hands in the district to work or open the road." In this way the first roads in Lee County were established. No pretense of following section lines were made in opening the roads, the most direct route being followed as a rule. Portions of these first highways are still used, but the greater part of them has been altered to conform to the lines of the survey. 

The territorial legislature of 1838-39, the first after the Territory of Iowa was organized, passed acts providing for the establishment of the following roads in Lee County: 1. From Keokuk to Iowa City, via Farmington, New Lexington and Bentonsport. James Sutton, James Robb and James McMurry were named in the act as commissioners to locate and supervise the opening of the road. 2. From Fort Madison to Trenton, Henry County, via Baltimore and Mount Pleasant. The commissioners to oversee the construction of this road were William Skinner, Samuel Brazleton and Myriam Kilbourne. 3. From Samuel Hearn's on the Des Moines River, to West Point, to be located and opened by Thomas Douglass, Samuel Hearn and William Howard. 4. From Keokuk to Mount Pleasant, via Montrose. Larkin Johnson, William Morrow and Thomas W. Taylor were named as the supervising commissioners. 5. From Fort Madison to West Point, following approximately the route selected by the board of county highway supervisors the year before. John Box, John Reynolds and Lewis Pitman were appointed commissioners to supervise the opening of this road. 

During the first few years of the county's history, scarcely a meeting of the county commissioners occurred at which petitions for the opening of highways were not presented. The records from 1837 to 1846 are full of instances of this character, and there was hardly a citizen in the county during that period who was not at some time or another called upon to act as road-viewer, to investigate and report upon the merits of some petition. It would therefore be impracticable, if not actually impossible, to give an account of each of the early roads, but the above examples are representative cases of how the first roads were established. 

In 1 85 1 the Des Moines Valley Plank Road Company was organized for the purpose of building a plank road from Keokuk to Birmingham. In May of that year the contract for its construction was let to Brownell, Connable & Cunningham at $2,390 per mile for that portion between Keokuk and Clinton. In this contract it was provided that the road should be completed to the "end of Muddy Lane by November 1, 1851, and to Clinton the next season." Branches to Salem and Fairfield were projected, but were never finished. 

The Railroad Era

The first railroad project to interest the people of Lee County was in 1 8 ^ t , when the subject of building a railroad from Keokuk to Dubuque, with a branch to Council Bluffs, became one of general discussion. The proposition received the support of many of the leading politicians and quite a number of newspapers advocated the building of the road. But every editor that favored it also insisted that the road should run through his town. Col. J. Monroe Reid, in his "Old Settlers and Reminiscences," says: "Every town of any pretensions on and off the river expected to get this railroad. Surveys were made, not for the purpose of establishing any route, but to attract public attention and to keep up the excitement; and they answered their purpose. It had its day until the election of United States senator was over, and then it died. Like the track of a snake in the dusty road, it ran everywhere, or appeared to run everywhere, but ran nowhere. It was ridiculed as the 'Ram's Horn Railroad,' because it was as crooked as a ram's horn. ... It was a political scheme, planned for political purposes, and died the death." 

Voting Aid to Railroads

In 1853 a company was organized to build a railroad up the Des Moines Valley from Keokuk to Fort Des Moines and from that point north into Minnesota. It was known as the Keokuk, Des Moines & Minnesota Railroad Company. About the same time the Fort Madison, West Point, Keosauqua & Bloomfield Railroad Company was organized, and petitions were circulated asking the County Court to call a special election to give the voters of the county an opportunity to express themselves upon the question of granting aid by subscribing for the stock of the two companies. 

Accordingly, Judge Edward Johnstone, then county judge, ordered an election for November 26, 1853, at which the proposition of subscribing for $200,000 of the capital stock of each company was to be submitted to the voters, the money thus paid to be expended within the limits of the county. The call for the election also stated that a tax of not to exceed one per cent should be levied upon all the taxable property of the county annually, to provide a fund with which to pay the interest upon the bonds and redeem them when they fell due. The proposition carried by a vote of 1,964 to 805, and on April 4, 1855, the county judge made the subscription to the stock. 

In the meantime public sentiment with regard to voting subsidies to railroads had undergone a change, and a petition signed by over one-fourth of the legal voters of the county was filed with the county judge, asking for another election to vote on the question of rescinding the order for the stock subscription. An election was ordered for the first Monday in April, 1855, but was postponed for a time at the request of the petitioners. The vote on the question of rescinding the issue of stock was 1,553 t0 ^S 21 * tn e proposition to rescind being carried by a bare majority of thirty-two votes. 

While this question was pending, the Keokuk, Mount Pleasant & Muscatine Railroad Company had been organized in 1854 to build a road from Keokuk to Muscatine. The citizens of Keokuk voted a bond issue of $100,000 to aid in the construction of this road, and the merchants and shippers of St. Louis raised $52,500 by private subscription, as the road would be of great benefit to their interests by reducing the cost of lighterage around the Des Moines Rapids of the Mississippi. 

The people realized the building of railroads would aid materially in the development of the country, and there was an evident desire on the part of many to encourage their construction. On August 3, 1856, a petition, signed by a large number of Lee County's most prominent citizens, came before Samuel Boyles, then judge of the County Court, asking for a special election to vote on the question of voting aid to the roads. Judge Boyles therefore ordered an election for Wednesday, September 10, 1856, at which the following questions were to be submitted to the electors: 

"1. Shall the county subscribe $150,000 to the capital stock of the Keokuk, Fort Des Moines & Minnesota Railroad Company? 

"2. Shall the county subscribe $150,000 to the capital stock of the Keokuk, Mount Pleasant & Muscatine Railroad Company? 

"3. Shall the county subscribe $150,000 to the capital stock of the Fort Madison, West Point, Keosauqua & Bloomfield Railroad Company?" 

It was also ordered by the court that each proposition should be voted on separately; that no stock was to be subscribed unless each and all propositions received a majority in favor of such subscrip- tions; that the roads should give bonds that the proceeds resulting from the sale of county bonds should be expended within the limits of the county, and that all stock subscribed for under the previous election should be surrendered. The three propositions were carried by majorities of 1,600, 1,652 and 1,602, respectively, and on Jan- uary 1, 1857, the county issued its negotiable bonds in the sum of $450,000, with interest at 8 per cent, payable semi-annually, for the benefit of the railroad companies. 

The Keokuk, Des Moines & Minnesota

The survey of this road was made in 1854, under the direction of Col. J. K. Hornish. In the spring of 1855 the company was reorganized as the Des Moines Valley Railroad Company, with Hugh T. Reid, president; C. F. Conn, secretary, and W. C. Graham, treasurer. The City of Des Moines and Polk County gave $100,000 to assist in bringing the road to the capital. A contract for the construction of the road was let to Smith, Leighton & Company in 1855 and grading was commenced. Track laying began in the summer of 1856, and on October 7, 1856, the first train was run from Keokuk to Buena Vista, a distance of about three miles. On June 10, 1857, the first train was run from Keokuk to Farmington. The road was completed to Eddyville in that year, when work ceased until after the Civil war. 

On July 10, 1866, J. M. Dixon, editor of the Des Moines Daily Register, announced the fact that the road had finally crossed the Polk County line in the following expressive if not elegant rhyme: 

"Sammum Hillum! Something's broke! The cars have got inside of Polk!'  

On August 22, 1866, a proclamation was issued that the first train on the Des Moines Valley Railroad would arrive at Des Moines on the 29th. Thus, after eleven years of trial and tribulation, the capital of the state was placed in communication by rail with the Mississippi River at Keokuk. On the first through train there were about one hundred and fifty people from Keokuk, who went to Des Moines to attend the celebration. James Tibbetts, of Keokuk, was on the locomotive as engineman, and R. Patch, also of Keokuk, was the conductor. This road is now a part of the great Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway System.

Keokuk, Mount Pleasant & Muscatine 

This was one of the three roads that were aided by stock subscriptions on the part of Lee County. In 1855 the stockholders voted to place the construction of the road under the control of Col. J. K. Hornish, an experienced engineer. During the spring and summer of 1856 work was pushed with vigor and the road was finished from Keokuk to Montrose before the winter could interfere with its construction. 

While this part of the road was under construction, the people of Fort Madison, through the cooperation of the Fort Madison, West Point, Keosauqua & Bloomfield Railroad Company, began the building of a road from that city to a point a little south of what is now the station of Viele, and in 1857 tne Keokuk, Mount Pleasant & Muscatine was extended northward from Montrose to Viele, thus establishing railroad communication between Keokuk and Fort Madison. The road then took the name of the Keokuk & St. Paul. The northern terminus of the road was at Fort Madison until 1869, when the line was extended to Burlington. 

Burlington & Southwestern

About 1868 or 1869 a company was organized at Burlington to build a road westward from Viele to Farmington, Van Buren County. Work was commenced at Viele in the summer of 1870 and the road was completed to Farmington in the spring of 1871. From Viele its trains ran to Burlington over the tracks of the Keokuk & St. Paul Railroad. This road was at first known as the Burlington & South- western and later as the Chicago, Burlington & Kansas City. Subsequently it was extended to Carrollton, Missouri, and is now the Burlington, Laclede & Carrollton division of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy System. 

The Narrow-Gauge

On July 17, 1 871, a company was organized at Fort Madison for the purpose of building a narrow-gauge railroad from Fort Madison via West Point, Birmingham, Fairfield and Oskaloosa to Council Bluffs. This road was known as the Fort Madison & Northwestern Narrow-Gauge Railway. Cars began running between Fort Madison and West Point early in 1879. The road was then sold to a construction company, which completed it to Collett, forty-five miles from Fort Madison. About 1888 the road again changed hands, the new company taking the name of the Chicago, Fort Madison & Des Moines Railroad Company. The new owners changed the road to a standard gauge and completed it to Ottumwa. It is now the Fort Madison & Ottumwa branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy System, which also operates a line from Keokuk to Mount Pleasant, passing through the central part of Lee County. 

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe 

Shortly after the close of the Civil war a line of railroad was built from Topeka westward through Kansas, closely following the line of the old Santa Fe Trail. A little later the road was extended eastward to Atchison, Kansas, which city was then a great outfitting point for westward emigration, and a branch was built from Topeka to Kansas City. The road then became known as the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. It was not many years until the company announced its intention to extend its line from Kansas City to Chicago. When this fact became generally known, several cities on the Mississippi River offered inducements to secure the road. In this contest Fort Madison possessed some decided advantages. In the first place, it was nearly on the "air line" between the two terminal cities, and in addition to this a company of men at Fort Madison held a charter to build a bridge across the Mississippi at that point, which charter they offered to turn over to the railroad. 

Work was commenced on the eastern extension in 1886 and on December 7, 1887, the first train crossed the Mississippi River on the new bridge at Fort Madison. Fort Madison was made a division point on the road and the company maintains large shops and yards at that point. 

Toledo, Peoria & Western

In 1853 a company called the Logansport, Peoria & Warsaw Railroad Company was organized to build a line of railroad from Hamilton to Carthage, Illinois, which was completed in 1856. Three years later the line was extended southward to Clayton, Illinois. When the railroad and wagon bridge was built across the Mississippi at Keokuk in 1868, that city was made the western terminus of the road, thus giving Keokuk an eastern outlet. Since that time Keokuk has been made the terminal city of a division of the Wabash System, which connects with the main line at Bluffs, Illinois. 

Of the $450,000 voted by the people of Lee County in aid of railroads in 1856, one-third was expended by the Keokuk, Mount Pleasant & Muscatine Company in building the road from Keokuk to Montrose; one-third by the Fort Madison, West Point, Keosauqua & Bloomfield Company in building the road from Fort Madison to Viele; and the remaining one-third was used by the Des Moines Valley Railroad Company in the construction of its line from Keokuk to Bentonsport. 

According to the county auditor's report for the year 1913, Lee County then had 159.64 miles of railroad, the estimated actual value of which was $6,420,420, but which was assessed for taxation at $1,605,105.

Source:  History of Lee County, Iowa, by Dr. S. W. Moorhead and Nelson C. Roberts, 1914

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