of Jefferson County
"JOCKY HOLLOW. A stage coach stop along the old wagon
road, between Parsonsville and Glendale, for the route operated between
Burlington and Des Moines. The tavern, or inn, was located
on the south side of the road near a spring. The stable, or log horse
barn, was across the road to the north. After the arrival of the
railroad in 1838 the overland stage route was abandoned, leaving
no reason for the Jockey Hollow Inn and tavern to exist. (Ledger)"
The above information was compiled by Mary Prill and published in the Hawkeye Heritage, July 1967.
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Names mentioned in this article are as follows:
Frank Weston, Peg Leg Pete, Ids Rizor, John Jenks.
As Burlington Northern trains
speed over the big fill on the right-of-way approximately nine miles east
of Fairfield in the area once known as Jockey Hollow, they may be running
over the remains of two former railroad workers.
Legends and stories emanating from the former stage coach stop many years ago said two workers were killed in a fight while the big fill was being made. The fill was made when the railroad was changed from a single track to a double track right-of-way. Instead of notifying authorities, members of the work crew buried the two bodies in the fill.
Frank Weston, county assessor and a native of the Glendale and Jockey Hollow area, said he has heard stories and legends concerning Jockey Hollow since he was a small boy.
One of his stories is about Peg Leg Pete. Pete was one of the two railroad workers supposedly buried in the big railroad fill.
The story said Peg Leg Pete's ghost returns to the scene during certain times of day and weather and can be seen rushing hither and yon, probably seeking his killer. There are those during the years that claimed they actually saw Pete's ghost.
The few facts combined with legends provide an interesting story concerning the history and disappearance of Jockey Hollow. It flourished well over a century ago.
An article to the Ledger written in October, 1957, by Ids Rizor, now deceased, commented on the big construction project along the railroad around 1902.
The article stated, "I came to Glendale to live with my grandparents in 1892. There was just a single track railroad. It was a few years later when the railroad doubled the tracks."
"The area on the north side of the right-of-way that was formerly Jockey Hollow, served as a tent city for the hundreds of workers on the project. The dirt was all moved by mules and slip scrapers."
"There were men and mules so thick they could hardly work. It was quite a sight to see all that went on, men, mules, handcars and trains hauling in ties and rails." Mrs. Rizor also commented on the superstitions concerning Jockey Hollow. She wrote, "I will say quite a lot of people were afraid to travel through Jockey Hollow. I didn't care much about it even in my time as the place was a favorite stopping place for bums." John Jenks, former Jefferson County farmer now deceased, remembered Jockey Hollow after it had been abandoned but not while it was still a stage coach stop.
The road at that time was on the north side of the railroad and was later moved to the south side and eventually became Highway 34.
He pointed to a location on the south side of the old road where Jockey Hollow Inn once stood. The horse barn was located on the north side. Drivers changed horses at Jockey Hollow.
Perhaps the selection for a stage coach stop was made at that particular location because of an "ever running" spring nearby. Early information said the spring "saved the day" for area farmers during the two-year drought period about 1900.
Most wells were nearly dry and produced only enough water for household use and for drinking. Farmers hauled water in barrels from the spring to keep their livestock alive.
Legends that lived long after the old stage coach was abandoned indicated the hollow was haunted. Strange sounds could be heard at night according to the legends, some describing the noises as ghosts wailing. Some of the more superstitious believed weird noises were from the ghosts of the two workers buried in the fill.
According to stories of that day, the tavern operator made double walls so he could slip between the rooms and eavesdrop on his customers. If anyone was planning a stage coach holdup or some other crime he wanted to know about it.
Jenks said he believed the actual reason for the strange noises in the abandoned old structure was because animals and birds nested and occupied the areas between the rooms. True or not true, the legends lived long after Jockey Hollow was a thing of the past.
Following the arrival of the railroad in this part of the country in 1858, the overland stage coach route from Keokuk and Fort Madison to Des Moines was abandoned, thus leaving no legitimate reason for the Jockey Hollow Inn and Tavern to exist.
Unlike many other early communities in the county, Jockey Hollow died because of the coming of the railroad, not because the railroad was taken away.
If the story is true concerning the two workers buried in the big fill, they have been run over a good many times.
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