Carroll County IAGenWeb


A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement



Transcribed and donated by Marilyn Setzler.



Carroll county is well favored with unusual railroad facilities. It is bisected, almost through the middle, from east to west, by the main line of the Chicago & North Western Railroad. At Carroll one branch leaves for Sioux City; at Wall Lake connections are made with the Northern Iowa division, and one may take either one of the two lines thence to Sioux City. Another branch leaves for Harlan, and at Manning connections are made with another branch from that point to Audubon. The Chicago Great Western Railway, which enters the county at the northeast corner and passes diagonally southwest, paralleling the North Western road from Carroll, gives the north half of the county rare facilities for freight transportation and travel. But to the Chicago & North Western and the Chicago Great Western roads is added the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company, Which passes through the southern tier of townships, from Coon Rapids to Manning.

The building of the first railroad was an event that early settlers had looked forward to for many years. They had waited and worked with so much diligence and patience toward that long-looked-for event, the construction of the first line across the state, which seemed to become a reality in 1860. As far back as 1856, when the county was first organized, congress had granted to the state a tract of land, to be held in trust, for the purpose of helping to build a transcontinental line, running close along the forty-second parallel of latitude. In the session of the legislature that followed, this land was donated to the Iowa Central Railroad Company. But this action of the legislature was rescinded by its successor in 1860, and soon the land was given to the Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad Company. Of this grant, 88,120 acres of the land were in Carroll county. But untoward events developed and the building of the railroad was postponed for several years. The Civil War came on and the resources of the state, men and money, were devoted to the restoration of the Union. Until the Rebellion could be suppressed there could be no railroad building. In the year of 1864, congress, not wholly unmindful of the material needs of the country, made a further grant for the construction of the transcontinental line, this time giving 29,240 acres of land in Carroll county. This made a total of 117,360 acres for railroad construction. This land of course was afterwards sold to settlers and is now occupied by some of the best farms in the county.

After the war, when the boys had returned from the front and the occupations and enterprises of peace were once more resumed, the work of building the long expected railroad was begun. The line passed through the most fertile part of the state, with no especial obstructions to encounter, and construction progressed rapidly. The work was pushed across Carroll county with unusual rapidity, and it was the fall of 1867 when trains were able to enter Council Bluffs, via the Chicago & North Western road. The main line, from Clinton to Council Bluffs, is 354 miles long. The road stopped at Glidden for a time, and this town was a station of considerable importance. It was named in honor of one of the directors of the company and was even then an important center of trade. It was nearer to Carrollton, the old county seat, than Carroll was, and one of the principal settlements of the county was on the Coon, north of Glidden. But Carroll was the geographical center of the county, and officers of the road and leading business men of the county had planned for Carroll to be the county seat and business center. As will be noticed elsewhere, a contest for the seat of county government was soon started and in the course of two years the question was decided and affairs of the county were administered from Carroll. Arcadia, being on the divide of land between the Missouri river, was called Tip Top by the railroad people and so continued for a number of years.

The need of a line into the newly developed territory to the southwest finally induced the North Western company to construct the Iowa Southwestern, in 1880. The objective point was Harlan, then an inviting field for the great enterprise. But on account of difficulties in securing the right of way, land owners along the line asking a price thought to be out of reason, the road was terminated at Kirkman, about seven miles up the Nishna valley. For several years trains ran no further and passengers and freight were transported the rest of the way by teams. But conditions made it necessary for the railroad to reach Harlan and the line was extended.

Not long after that the branch from Manning to Audubon was built. George Gray was then an active factor in the development of enterprises in Audubon county, and he induced owners along the line to donate the right of way. The Southwestern has from the beginning been an important feeder for the main line at Carroll and has contributed largely to the prosperity of farmers in that locality.

The Maple River branch was built as long ago as 1877. The company had acquired control of the Sioux City & Pacific road and began the construction of what has since been known as the Northern Iowa division. That part of the system left the main line at Tama, ran thence north and west, through Story City, Jewell Junction, Lake City, Wall Lake, thence to Mapleton, where it terminated for a time. But the plans contemplated its extension to Onawa, then via the Sioux City & Pacific road to Sioux City. The line from Carroll to Carnarvon was needed to connect the territory of the northwest with the main line, giving a desirable outlet to Des Moines and central western portions of the state. In 1886 the line was completed to Onawa, since which time Carroll has had direct connection with Sioux City. Later, when the line was built through Sac City, thence to Sioux City, through Moville, Carroll was placed in touch with another most fertile and rich portion of the state.

The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad was built through the southern tier of townships in 1881. Previous to that time some of the most productive portions of the county were considered remote from the railroad, and development was retarded. But with the advent of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul road land values rose, farmers pushed forward their improvements and towns grew with rapidity. Coon Rapids, which had been a trading point since early pioneer days, became a lively town and for the first time in its history came in close contact with the northern parts of the county. Dedham, named after a city in Massachusetts, was not long in attracting attention as a good, lively town. Templeton, which was not far from what was then the old town of Elba, progressed as rapidly as its contemporaries and laid a foundation that has enabled it to grow and develop into one of the substantial towns of that locality. Manning was located at the intersection of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul road with the Southwestern branch running out of Carroll. Mention is made of it in another place.

The Chicago Great Western Railway was built through the county in 1903. It had often been observed in the newspapers of Carroll that Carroll was on a direct line from Fort Dodge and Omaha, and that if ever a road was built to connect the country northeast with the southwest it must run through Carroll. The time came sooner than was expected, it may be said, when the Great Western took hold of the enterprise. The old Mason City & Fort Dodge road was acquired by the Great Western company in 1901 and work of adding this local line from Mason City to Fort Dodge was begun at once. The matter of securing the right of way through Carroll county was largely in the hands of Hon. Thomas D. Healy, of Fort Dodge, but locally the law firm of Lee & Robb, of Carroll, had charge of the company's affairs. In the northeast part of the county the prospect of securing a railroad cheered the farmers into hearty cooperation. Those who had lived in Jasper township and adjacent localities considered connection with the main line of the North Western and access to the city of Carroll something worth while, and lent to the projected line their moral and material support. The convenience of a railroad through that portion of the county, heretofore remote from the county seat, with the added facilities of shipment of stock and material, was something that the people could see in a profitable light, and it is needless to say that the advent of the Great Western company to the county was an event that appealed to popular favor.

The entrance of the new railroad into Carroll and its passage through the city was a problem that caused much speculation. Several lines, over as many different routes, were surveyed as the engineers approached the city limits. It was thought at one time that the line would enter from the north, passing through "Stringtown," and thence southwest through the city. A tentative line was surveyed further west, passing west of the north-side schoolhouse and touching the North Western road just west of the city limits. In any event, it was apparent that the new line would have to pass through no small portion of the city occupied with residences, making the right of way exceedingly expensive. The unexpected happened when it was announced that the line would enter the city from the east, not far from the point of entrance of the North Western, thence adjacent to the right of way of that road, leaving Carroll on the west, passing through Minchen's park with an overhead crossing where it crossed the North Western roadbed. This meant the removal of two blocks of residences, south of Fifth and east of East streets. Entering the business portion of town at East street it was necessary to remove the old greenhouse, run for many years by Adam Ries, then in the hands of N. A. Nielson. Joyce's lumberyards came next, and they were taken for the right of way. The old Wayne elevator, owned by R. Y. Culbertson, was in the way and was condemned. One of the prominent landmarks of Carroll was the old Joyce office building, standing just south of the Griffith block, which had been built in early years. When the courthouse was destroyed by fire, in 1885, this building was used for county offices. In later years it was gutted by an early morning fire and had been repaired and remodeled into a modern office building. It was well suited for headquarters of the extensive interests of the large lumber firm and was one of the attractive business buildings of the city. But it had to take its place with the humblest shack along the right of way when needs in the form of a public enterprise claimed the ground on which it stood. On the south side of Fourth street were a number of old buildings that had been used for various purposes almost from the time of the big fire. Among them were Park's implement house, now used as a freight depot by the Great Western, Parsons' elevator, the Arts grain house, and others. West of Adams street was the historical Keckevoet building, the Anderson harness shop, and other then prominent places of business. The Green Bay Lumber Company's offices, sheds and yards were in the direct line of march of the line through the city, and they were taken by the right-of-way men and the ground made clear for the Great Western. Passing thence west the same process of acquiring right of way had to be followed till unoccupied land was reached beyond the city limits. A saving was effected, however, by the sale of the buildings. Of these buildings, many were wrecked and moved to the country by farmers, who reconstructed them into barns, out­houses, etc. The residences were bought by various investors who removed them to other parts of the city, and in some cases the owners bought the dwellings back from the company and moved them to lots procured in other locations. A number of fine homes in Carroll are built with material of houses bought from the Great Western company after the right of way was acquired through Carroll.

The advent of the Great Western was not regarded with indifference by the North Western officials. That road was the pioneer among the railways, and industries in Carroll were located with reference to the convenience of shipping over the North Western line. They had always treated Carroll and its transportation needs with fairness and the line was deservedly popular. Yet, the aggressive management of the new line had an eye to business and decided upon a coup in the matter of location. It will be noticed that in entering Carroll, it drove its line between the North Western and the business sections of the city, thus edging its way between the elevators, the lumberyards, and other enterprises regarded as heavy patrons of the railroad. Some time was required, and there was a considerable realignment of industries and business conditions before the final readjustment came that is now satisfactory to the railroads and business interests of the town.

The present handsome brick structure which was built by the company as a passenger depot would not have been erected had it not been for the veto of Mayor E. M. Parsons. The location is within the fire limits, but the council was induced to modify the ordinance, so as to permit the Great Western to build a wooden structure. Mayor Parsons interposed his veto and the brick structure was erected.

The North Western line built its second track across the state in 1901 and trains have since been run on the double track. This great transcontinental is taxed to its utmost capacity with local and through traffic and it is easily the greatest railroad in the west.

The valuation of railroad property in Carroll county at the last biennial equalization was as follows:

Chicago & North Western, 25.41 miles, valuation, $62,800; assessed for $15,700.

Chicago & North Western, Maple River branch, 943 miles, valuation, $22,425; assessed for $5,606.

Chicago & North Western, Iowa Southwestern branch, 25.43 miles, valuation, $16,400; assessed for $4,100.

Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, 24.93 miles, valuation, $44,163; assessed for $11,041.

Chicago Great Western, Mason City & Fort Dodge, 35.21 miles, valuation, $19,560; assessed for $4,800.

Total mileage of railroad in county, 120.34. Valuation, $165,348; assessed for $41,337.

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