My Present Past
A genealogical experience
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Burlington & Missouri River Railroad
The Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company was organized January 15, 1852. The articles of
incorporation were filed in Des Moines County, Iowa, on January 26, 1852.
In the articles the following named persons appear as incorporators:
J. F. Tallant, Charles Mason, J. J. Child, William Endsley, David Rorer, James W. Woods, J. C. Hall, Thomas
Sperry, William Sunderland, P. C. Tiffany, O. McClelland, John Johnson, Lyman Cook, Henry W. Starr, J. P.
Sunderland, Alphonso Martin, J. P. Kriechbaum, A. W. Carpenter, William F. Coolbaugh, George Frazee, F. J.
Peasley, Joseph Fales, J. F. Abrams, Joshua Copp, T. L. Parsons, J. A. Funck, R. S. Adams, John Pierson, C. H.
Suelson, Thomas W. Newman, T. D. Crocker, Jarnett Garner, William S. Graff, E.D.Rand, A. D. Green,
John G. Foote, Levi Hager, J. C. Stocton, Thomas Hedge, J. M. Swan, J. G. Law, D. Denise, E. H. Ives, J. G.
Lawman and J. S. Schramm.
The articles among other things declared that the above named persons have associated themselves for the
construction of a railroad from Burlington, Iowa to the Missouri River.
The second article gave the company name, "Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company.
The third article fixed the life of the company at fifty years.
Another article made provisions for a board of directors to consist of nine persons and provided the board
could hold its meetings at any place they might select outside of Burlington.
The seventh article limited the capital stock to $3,000,000 and the indebtedness should not exceed at any
time, two million dollars.
The twelfth article authorized the board of directors to make any arrangements with the State of Iowa for
the purpose of securing the benefit of any lands which may be given by the State of Iowa for the "construction
of the road herein contemplated." To construct such a road was a big undertaking for those men in a small
western town in a state at the time only six years old. Between Burlington and the Missouri River at this time
existed a vast extent of prairie land, the most fertile of any in the Mississippi Valley, which the Government
owned and if it could be induced to part with its title to a portion of the same along the line of the
contemplated road, the project seemed perfectly feasible. To do this the incorporators were determined to
get the people of the towns and counties along the line of the contemplated road interested in its construction.
The object and purpose of the company was to construct a railroad from the City of Burlington, Iowa on the
Mississippi River, eastward centrally through the second tier of counties of the southern border of Iowa, to
some eligible point on the Missouri River near the mouth of the Platte or Nebraska River, a distance of about
two hundred miles. At the time the road was projected it was anticipated by the Burlington & Missouri River
Railroad to connect with another line from the City of Chicago, also by the
Peoria & Oquawka Railroad and
extend connections east with Peoria, Logansport and in direction with the cities of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and
New York. By this route the road to the eastern cities would be greatly shortened and is it is believed, the
danger from interruption by snow in the winter greatly diminished. To the company this would create a "most
direct line from these eastern cities to the mouth of the Platte, whose valley extends far westward in the
same parallel of latitude and draining the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains." "It will be a great central air
line road from Philadelphia to the Missouri River, and when a road shall extend west, up the Valley of the Platte,
toward the Pacific Ocean, it will be but a continuation of this great central avenue."
The first order of work after the organization of the company was to construct the road from
Burlington, Des
Moines County, Iowa to Ottumwa, a distance of seventy five miles. In 1854 most of the grading, ditching and
ticing of this part of the road was placed under contract and between forty and fifty thousand dollars spent at
different points on the road. Owing to severe pressure in the money market in the later part of 1854 and the
first months of 1855, the company found it impracticable to carry on the work and it was consequently
In the summer of 1855 it was thought advisable to change the policy of the company in relation to the
construction of the work and in place of continuing by small contracts, to let the entire road to contractors, to
be delivered to the company in complete running order. Following this policy, on August 15, 1855 a contract was
executed with Clark, Hendrie & Company, a responsible and wealthy firm, to construct the road and deliver it to
the company on the 1st of June, 1857, from Burlington to the Skunk River in
Henry County, a distance of thirty
five miles, at a cost of $22,500. With this new contractor work was started and the road was completed to
Mt. Pleasant, a distance of about twenty eight miles in July of 1856.
There was a great deal of anxiety by the citizens of Jefferson and Wapello counties for an early construction
of the road west of the Skunk River but with the state of finances in 1855 there was a proposition made to
those counties to increase their stock $100,000 each and a contract agreed upon to construct the road to
Ottumwa, upon the condition that those counties subscribe to the stock.
On August 24, 1858 a public meeting and celebration was held in
Fairfield, Jefferson County, to commence the
arrival of the first railroad to the town. On September 01, 1858 at 11am, the first train of cars entered
Fairfield, Iowa over the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad from Mt. Pleasant. The first train was a group of
seventeen cars  which contained military, fire personnel, citizens and bands from Mt. Pleasant and Burlington.
At 12 noon the regular train arrived from the east bringing several hundred passengers. An appropriate address
of welcome was delivered by A. M. Scott and responded by W. F. Coolbaugh, a banker in Burlington. After dinner
in the park, regular toasts were read by A. R. Fulton, Chairman of the Committee.
By the end of 1858 the railroad was completed through Jefferson County.
1854 Chicago Railroads

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1855 Chicago Review

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1855 Iowa As It Is

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1856 Iowa Gazette

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1856 Iowa Gazette

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1856 U. S. Railroad Directory

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The road reached Agency, Wapello County, Iowa in the early summer of 1859 and Ottumwa on September 01,
1859 but was not completed through the city until October 13, 1859. Work west into
Monroe County was not
started until 1865 because of the Great War. The road reached
Albia, Monroe County on November 01, 1866,
with a total mileage through this county of about 27 miles. In the summer of 1867the town of
Chariton, Lucas
County was reached and early 1868, Osceola, Clarke County was attained. In September of 1868, the first
train arrived in
Afton, Union County, Iowa. In the early months of 1869, the town of Cromwell was reached,
which was originally designated the division point for the company but the site was changed to
Creston, Iowa.
In the spring and summer of 1869 the towns of
Prescott and Corning in Adams County, Iowa were reached along
Red Oak Junction in Montgomery County. The final destination of Pacific Junction, Mills County, Iowa was
obtained in late December of 1869. The gateway to the west in Iowa was finally achieved.