Depot & WWII
[excerpt from] Andreas'
BURLINGTON & MISSOURI RIVER RAILROAD.
The completion and opening of a third line of railway from Chicago
marked another epoch in the history of the great metropolis and the Northwest.
To the Chicago & North-Western Railway is due the credit of having been the
first connecting line of the Union Pacific Railroad. Western railway enterprise
rapidly developed another link by the completion of the Iowa Division of the
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, and that was quickly followed by
the Burlington & Missouri River Railway, a continuation of the Chicago,
Burlington & Quincy Railroad, affording three great eastern outlets to the
Union Pacific via Chicago.
The Burlington &
Missouri River Railroad, running through the richest portion of Southern Iowa,
a region abundantly supplied with timber and coal and presenting a diversity of
agricultural facilities, was projected in about 1850, but, owing to local and
political causes, its progress toward completion was like a desperately fought
campaign, with a succession of battles where every advantage was carried inch
by inch at the point of the bayonet.
The line of the road
was surveyed from Burlington to Ottumwa,
seventy-five miles, in 1853. It was put under contract the following year, but
was not completed until 1859. Ottumwa
was the Western terminus for six years, at which time, in 1865, the company
recommenced operations and began to push slowly toward the advancing Union
Pacific. The road was completed to Albia in 1866; to Chariton in 1867; to Afton
in 1868, and the balance in December, 1869.
This is one of the
best constructed railroads in Southern Iowa.
The road-bed and track are apparently as firm as the hills, and cars glide
along in a manner rarely realized upon Western railroads. The western portion
of the road is more primitive, but still very firm, the embankment being well
rounded and rendered secure by an admirable system of drainage. The ties were
selected with great care, and consist chiefly of oak, with a sprinkling of
walnut, cherry and locust. These are laid 2,500 to the mile. The track was laid
with sixty-pound rails, two and a half inches wide and four inches deep.
fact that the Missouri River at Omaha is five hundred feet above the
Mississippi River at Burlington, the gradients are easy, the greatest being
less than seventy feet to the mile. This fact is largely due to the engineering
skill of those who laid out the road. There are upward of five hundred bridges
crossed by this line of road; these are of all sizes, from a single span over a
miniature creek to a splendid structure half a mile long, like that over the Des
Moines River. All these bridges are models of symmetry and
strength, resting upon stone foundations or firmly set piles, and are entirely
safe, giving no perceptible vibrations as trains pass over. To secure a supply
of water for the engines, reservoirs and ponds were constructed at suitable
points all along the line. This was accomplished in some instances by damming
small streams. The water was elevated into tanks, holding nearly 50,000 gallons
each, by automatic wind-mills. There is no danger that the supply will ever be
short, as experience has demonstrated. The Burlington & Missouri Railroad
connects at Ottumwa
with the Des Moines Valley Railroad and the North Missouri
road, and, at Pacific Junction, with the St. Jo & Council
Among the important
branches and extensions of the road is one from Red Oak Junction
[emphasis added] to Nebraska City
and the Nebraska Extension to Lincoln.
The experimental trip over the road was made January 17, 1870, and was the
first passenger train from Chicago
to Council Bluffs
by the new line. The trip of 496 miles was made in a trifle over twenty-two
hours, and was a very successful one, demonstrating to the satisfaction of all
the practicability and comfort of the route.
census report of 1869 showed the aggregate of live stock and wool carried
eastward from the several stations along the line of road, during the year
ending April 30, 1869, to exceed that carried on any other Iowa
road. The scenery along this line of railroad is everywhere diversified and
beautiful, and the last twenty miles up the Missouri
is perfectly magnificent. The high bluffs that fringe the valley on either
side, marking the ancient boundaries of a mighty river, are picturesque beyond
The road from Burlington
to Omaha traverses eleven counties and runs
through the county seat of each. Everywhere along the line, new and prosperous
villages soon sprang up, the most noted of these being Mount Pleasant,
Fairfield, Ottumwa, Albia, Chariton, Osceola, Afton, Corning, Villesca [sic], Red Oak Junction [emphasis added]
A portion of Iowa,
hitherto comparatively undeveloped, was, by the building of the Burlington
& Missouri River Railroad, opened up with quick and easy access to the
great produce markets of the East, and now attains marked prominence on one of
the great national highways. ###