Barnes City Depot
When the first railroad was built through Barnes City, they built a platform in the front yard of William Barnes, and called it Barnes Station. The depot stood alone near the new railroad track that ultimately would define its future. In 1881, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad built a track linking the towns of Montezuma in Poweshiek County and Thornburg in Keokuk County. Barnes Station was midway in between, and the people near Barnes Station used the new form of transportation as their means of traveling shipping. The station's expansion and growth was inevitable since the railroad acted as a link to the rest of the county. It is not known when the depot was closed and the train passed through Barnes City.
The importance of the railroad to the Brooklyn community cannot be overstated. The railway depot was a center of activity for decades, as
countless freight and passenger trains stopped there. Many railroad crewmen's families moved to town with the railroad, and numerous railroad crewmen met and married young local women. The railroad brought social and cultural changes. Groups were taking trips to Chicago to see the sights. Over 200 citizens went by train to attend the Malcom fair in 1895. That same year over 150 tickets were sold to Brooklyn residents going to the Iowa State Fair. William Manatt was credited with inducing train officials to build the railroad through Brooklyn. He made generous overtures to the company, offering land and depot space. In a
contract, he agreed to erect the depot, platforms, stockyards and other buildings. The roundhouse was built in 1870. The 1880 History of Poweshiek County reports that the railroad company had a freight house, a roundhouse with 13 stalls for engines and sleeping apartment with over 20 cots for engineers and firemen, a turntable for switching engines, a small repair shop and five side tracks. In 1901 the Rock Island built a new 13-stall roundhouse along the railway tracks and Brooklyn was designated as a “permanent freight division station.” The peak years of the railroad were 1911-1912, when 38 freight trains stopped daily at the Brooklyn terminal to change crews and switch engines. There were seven daily passenger trains. A busy day at the depot in 1913 saw 10 carloads of livestock and two cars of grain shipped out. Beginning in 1915, the Rock Island gradually abandoned use of the Brooklyn roundhouse and in 1923 the terminal was moved to Marengo. All was abandoned in 1952. The local water tanks and remaining remnants of the roundhouse were destroyed.
Carnforth, Iowa, Depot
Carnforth lived and died by the railroad. In 1862 the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad built an east-west line through Poweshiek County alongside
what is now Old Highway 6. In 1884 the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad built a north-south line from Belle Plaine to the coal mines in southern Iowa. These railroads crossed tracks about halfway between Brooklyn and Victor. The two railroads opened a ticket office at the crossing for passengers to board the trains. The ticket office attracted enough interest that an application for a town plat near the office was submitted. It was platt
with lots and streets, and Carnforth was
born. In 1886 the railroads expanded their ticket office and erected a depot. Later that year a stockyard was built, and the town began to grow as railroad workers began to call Carnforth their home. The town grew, comprised of a post office, general store, grocery, hardware and a school. Many of the workers who supported the town were affiliated with the coal trains. The use of oil began to take the place of coal and gradually the C & N Railroad began to make fewer trips to the coal mines. As the trains left, so did the workers.By 1957 the coal trains, as well as the tracks, had vanished, leaving only the east-west tracks as a lifeline. Businesses were abandoned, and by the 1930's the depot was torn down along with most of the houses. The Rock Island Line continued to run trains through Carnforth until the late 1970's, when it went bankrupt. Today, Carnforth is known for it's sole business, a restaurant called Carnforth Inn.
Deep River, Iowa, Depot
With the arrival of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad in 1884, Deep River came to life. Many of the residents and businesses of Dresden moved to the Deep River location, leaving Dresden a ghost town. Deep River grew rapidly, new businesses being built one after another. Manufactured goods from the east were brought to the town, improving their lifestyle. Livestock and grain were shipped to eastern markets from here. Travel was made easier with the coming of the passenger trains. For many years, a great deal of coal was carried through Deep River from the coal mines in southern Iowa. With the coming of the automobile and better roads, passengers became fewer and fewer until July 1925 the last passenger train passed through town. With paved highways and more and bigger trucks, railroads began losing money and discontinued freight service. It is not known the exact date the depot was built, but we must assume it was built shortly after the train became coming through and Deep River was incorporated into a town. It is known that the last train left Deep River on July 14, 1958. The rails and all of the solid ties were removed by a salvage crew in the early 1960's.
Grinnell, Iowa Depot
The Union Depot was built in 1893 to succeed a small wooden depot which had served the community for 30 years. This early depot had been built in 1863, when the first train went through Grinnell. The new depot served the two rail lines, the Minneapolis and St.Louis running north and south, and the Iowa Central running east and west. The round tower on the southeast corner of the red brick depot gave a clear view of both lines to operate the telegraph and the semaphore signals to direct traffic on each. Both lines handled a great deal of freight. The freight and baggage room of the original station were on the west side of the building and the waiting room and ticket office on the east. Express was handled by the Railway Express Co. in the small red brick building across Park Street to the west.
During the 1990’s the depot was renovated and turned into a restaurant called Depot Crossing. Removal of baggage and freight areas and the waiting room and ticket office created the large upstairs dining room at the Depot Crossing. The area under this room was excavated to create a private dining room and storage. New wings designed to complement the original building were added to the north and to the west of the main building. The north wing housed an efficient, up-to-date stainless steel kitchen with the latest in restaurant cooking equipment, which conveniently served the upstairs dining room as well as the private rooms downstairs. The west wing, with its glass-enclosed walls giving a panoramic view of the city through Central Park, served as a lounge with a massive antique walnut Brunswick bar. Meals were also served here as an overflow from the dining room. At this time, the depot is home to the Peppertree Restaurant.
The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, crossing the east part of Poweshiek County, ran through Lincoln Township. Before the line was completed the Northwestern Company secured control, making it easy to reach the coal fields in the south part of the state. The road was surveyed in 1883 and built the next year. The What Cheer Coal Company was promoter of the railway and before a line was finally adopted, fourteen surveys were made to find a route. The route finally adopted had many grades and winds around the hills, and was so crooked and full of curves that it was designated by the trainmen as the “Pumpkin Vine.”
Guernsey, along with Hartwick, Carnforth and Deep River sprang into existence because of the building of this line. The trains were used mainly for hauling coal from the coal fields in the vicinity of What Cheer north to Belle Plaine.
The Pumpkin Vine was one of the busiest lines on the Chicago Northwestern for only going 70 miles. It carried coal and passengers plus everyday essentials such as newspapers baked goods, chicken feed, hogs, eggs, milk and more. In 1886 eighteen coal trains were running daily on the branch through Guernsey.
The freight room for the C. & N.W. depot in Guernsey caught fire in May 1887 from the explosion of a lamp. It was extinguished before much damage was done. In the 1920’s and 30’s the railroad was finding other places to supply it with coal. There was talk about closing down the Guernsey Depot, but trains continued running through Guernsey on the “Pumpkin Vine” until 1958. At that time an end of an era took place that could never be matched. With the closing of the railroad, the towns along the route slowly stopped growing.
By 1883, coal fields in the southern part of the state were doing such a flourishing business that the Ottumwa, Cedar Falls & St. Paul Railroad felt it necessary to add a branch in order to connect Belle Plaine, a main line division point, and points north with coal fields in What Cheer, Buxton and points south. A route was mapped out, surveyed and the business of purchasing land began. One such strip ran through the holdings of George L. Ostrom who sold it to the railroad company with the stipulation that no liquor could be sold on the land or it would revert back to the Ostrom family. Mr. Ostrom unknowingly took the first step toward the building of a town. The sign on the depot would later read: HARTWICK. Charlie Hess was the first depot agent. Construction began, and by the time a work crew reached Jefferson Township in 1883, the railroad had been purchased by the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company. By the fall of 1884, the railroad crew had reached the Hartwick area. Despite the fact that winter had arrived, work
continued. By December 1884 the railroad extended through the site of Hartwick to Carnforth. Between 1895 and 1901, the first automobiles began to be used in the area. A crew of men were hired to maintain the roads. The coal mines in What Cheer and south dwindled in production and finally failed altogether. In July 1958 the last scheduled train stopped at Hartwick.
Malcom, Iowa, Depot
In June of 1863 the first train on the Mississippi and Missouri Railway, later to be known as the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, reached Malcom on it's way west through Poweshiek County. Three years later, in 1866, Z. P. Wigton laid out the town plat of Malcom. Upon moving to Malcom that same year, W. J. Johnson, a carpenter, built the first building of the town and also built the depot on the C.R.I. & P. Mr. Johnson served as the railroad agent from 1868-1880. The station became known as a major shipping point for grain and livestock. Depot service was permanently discontinued at Malcom in 1959. With service discontinued, the old depot was sold to Victor Vogel, a farmer living north of town, in 1961. With help from others, he dismantled the old depot and transported it to the farm, where the material was used in the construction of a new barn.
(The Rock Island Depot)
The depot at Montezuma was built in 1879. Christmas day the next year the first train pulled out over the Rock Island line. One has to assume that the depot was the center for much commotion with passenger and freight trains arriving and departing on a regular schedule. There were at one time two hotels within a short distance of the
depot. Montezuma had two railroads, one from the north and one from the south. The Grinnell and Montezuma (a branch of the Iowa Central) Railroad made regular daily trips between the two towns. The line going south was the Iowa City and Western, an extension of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern being operated by the Rock Island. The last train to Montezuma on the line was in August of 1936. A throng of over 100 people gathered at the north station to witness the arrival and
departure of the last train. A traveling auditor checked out J.B. Bryan, who had served the company in the capacity of depot agent for 47 years. The crowd milled around the depot waiting for the last whistle and many reminiscent remarks were made. None of the old timers had forgotten the time the station was robbed back in the 1880's, shortly after the M. & St. L. bought the line. The robbers crawled under the station, which had no foundation but stood on blocks. With a brace and bit they bored a hole through the floor directly under one of the largest barrels of beer ever shipped into Montezuma, and carried off every drop in buckets. Although never apprehended, the culprits were known. It was related that one of them later changed his ways and became one of Poweshiek County's leading prohibitionists. By the 1960’s the future of the depot in Montezuma was in doubt. The last train left here on 14 July 1972. The landmark became a subject of controversy since the railroad gave the building to the city. Some wanted it restored and others wanted it torn down. The Jaycees restored and painted the exterior for the Bicentennial Year, but the building remained empty. The building suffered further deterioration in a bad storm. Early in 1974 the Lions Club announced members would lead a community effort to renovate the depot, but the costs involved were too
extensive. In August of that year, the Lions dropped their plans for the restoration, leaving the fate of the building in the air. The town offered to sell the building providing the buyer would move it to a different location, but there were no bidders. It was demolished May 3, 1979 to make way for a new city building.
In 1858 a charter was issued for the construction of a railroad from Albia on the south to Mitchell, near the Minnesota border. This two hundred mile section of rail line was to be built by the Iowa Central Railroad Company and was to become part of the line from St. Louis to St. Paul. By the time of the Civil War the grade was completed, but the war delayed funds for the completion of the line. Through pressure exerted by J.P. Grinnell and others, the necessary funds were made available so the track could be laid. One construction crew worked from the north end of the line and another worked from the south end. They met at the Poweshiek-Mahaska county line and the last spike was driven in February of 1871. Trains began to run on the line the day it was completed. The railroad became a major employer in Searsboro as two section crews worked out of the town for many years. These crews numbered to 25 men and more during some seasons of the year. Responsibilities for these crews included inspection of the tracks, repairing bridges, replacing ties and damaged rails, cutting weeds and removing snow. The south crew worked to Moore Station and the north crew worked to Oak Grove. As things became more mechanized, the size of the crews decreased, but section crews continued to work out of Searsboro until the mid 1950's.