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The first announcement of a railroad meeting was in the Sentinel of October 6, 1848. The first railroad meeting was held January 6, 1849, Capt. Daniel Rider, Chairman, and Dr. William L. Orr, Secretary. C. Negus, J. Rider, William L. Cooper, William G. Coop, Arthur Bridgman and William Pitkin, were chosen Trustees to solicit subscriptions in Jefferson County. V. P. Van Antwerp, S. J. Bayard and C. W. Slagle, a committee to memorialize Congress for a grant of land.
In 1858, the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad was completed through the county, having twenty-seven miles within the county, being assessed at $12,000 per mile. In 1856, the county, by vote, authorized the County Judge to subscribe $100,000 to the capital stock of this road. Thirty thousand dollars of the bonds were issued and delivered to the Company. It was decided by the Supreme Court, in 1862, that such subscriptions were illegal, without authority and void. Under this decision the County never issued the remaining $70,000 of bonds, but enjoined the Company from negotiating all that it had on hand and actually tied up, and also enjoined $15,000 of the $30,000 issued, which only left $15,000 of the bonds for the county to pay and which it has paid with the 8 per cent interest. In 1877, the county brought suit against the Railroad Company for recovery of the whole amount paid, which, with the interest, amounts to more than $50,000. The suit was brought on the ground that inasmuch as the bonds were issued without authority of law are ultra viris, and were, in fact, but accommodation paper. The suit is still pending, with D. P. Stubbs as attorney for the county.
In 1870, the Chicago & Southwestern Railroad was completed through the county, crossing the Burlington & Missouri at Fairfield. It has 26 4-5 miles in the county, being assessed at $3,700 per mile. The citizens of the county subscribed $135,000 to secure the Chicago & Southwestern Railroad.
The survey of the St. Louis, Keosauqua & St. Paul Railroad has been made through the county intersecting the Chicago & Southwestern Railroad and the Burlington & Missouri Railroad at Fairfield.
A tax of $40,000 was voted in 1871 to aid in building the Ft. Madison & Northwestern Railroad.
The first train of cars entered Fairfield over the Burlington & Missouri Railroad on Wednesday, September 1, 1858. Immense preparations had been made to celebrate the happy event. A meeting of the citizens was held August 24 previous, over which Samuel Jacobs presided, and of which James Eckert was Secretary.
A stirring address was issued calling the people to attend the celebration, and committees appointed:
On the Dinner--G. W. Honn, A. R. Fulton, W. B. Rowland, William McLain, James S. Beck, Daniel McDonald, J. L. Myers, C. S. Shaffer and D. Mendenhall.
To meet the cars at Mt. Pleasant on the day of celebration--Dr. J. C. Ware, George Craine and C. H. Green.
On Arrangements--James Thompson, A. M. Scott, W. R. Alexander, Samuel Jacobs, James Eckert, C. W. Burnham, E. S. Gage and William L. Hamilton.
On Toasts--A. R. Fulton, A. M. Scott and D. B. Littleton.
September arrived and was ushered in at sunrise by the firing of cannon, which continued every half-hour until 10 o'clock. The whole surrounding country was in town by this time. A table had been prepared in the park, stretching around the entire inclosure (sic).
At 11 o'clock a train of seventeen cars filled with military and fire companies and citizens from Burlington and Mt. Pleasant, also the several bands of music from those cities.
The military fired salutes. The fire companies "squirted" water to the astonishment and delight of the quiet country people, who had never witnessed such exhibitions before. At 12 o'clock, the regular train arrived from the East bringing several hundred passengers. An appropriate address of welcome was delivered by A. M. Scott and responded to by Hon. W. F. Coolbaugh, recently deceased in Chicago, but at that time a banker in Burlington. After dinner in the park, the regular toasts were read by A. R. Fulton, Chairman of the Committee:
"Iron--The metal which transcends in value the finest gold; its magic tissues make distant nations neighbors."
Responded to by Senator James Harlan.
"Steam and Electricity."
Responded to by Prof. J. T. Roberts, of Burlington.
"The Iron Horse--May the time speedily come when he will stop to take a drink in the Missouri and anon quench his thirst in the waters of the Pacific."
Response by J. L. Corse, of Burlington.
"The Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company."
Response by W. W. Walbridge, of Burlington.
Response by Dr. Stebbins, of Mt. Pleasant.
Other regular toasts followed to the number of fifteen, when volunteers were offered, among which was one by "a citizen": Woman--"May her virtues be as large as her hoops and her imperfections as small as her bonnet."
Two mammoth pyramidal cakes had been prepared by the ladies, and, through Mr. A. M. Scott, were formally presented to Des Moines and Henry Counties. In the evening, a grand ball came off at Wells' new hall, at which about one hundred couples were present.
Gov. Ralph P. Lowe, Hon. J. W. Rankin, of Keokuk, and Hon. Francis Springer, of Louisa County, sent congratulatory letters.
The track of the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad crossed the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad track at 4 o'clock P. M., Saturday, September 29, 1870. Hundreds of people were out to witness the "crossing."
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