Quick Railroad History of Iowa
Railroad transportation came to Iowa in the late 1840s. Iowa had approximately 655 miles of track in operation by 1860 and 2,683 miles by 1870. This mileage grew to almost 9,200 at the turn of the century (1900) and peaked between 1911 and 1917 with more than 10,500 roadway miles of track.
Although there were several very small railroads operating in and around Iowa’ river towns, the first railroad to cross the Mississippi River was the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad in 1856. This railroad later became known as the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The Rock Island filed for bankruptcy in 1975 and ordered to liquidate by the bankruptcy court in June 1980. Much of the former Rock Island system in Iowa was acquired by the former Chicago and North Western Railway Co. The former Rock Island main line across Iowa from Chicago to Davenport to Council Bluffs and Omaha is now operated by the Iowa Interstate Railroad.
In 1867 the Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska Railroad, which later became the Chicago and North Western Railway Co. was the first railroad to build tracks across Iowa. The Chicago and North Western Railway Co. merged with the Union Pacific Railroad Co. in April 1995.
The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Co. (now known as the BNSF Railway Co.) and the Illinois Central Railroad Co., which later became the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Co. both completed their rail lines across Iowa in 1878. (In December 1985 the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad sold all of its Iowa trackage to the Chicago, Central and Pacific Railroad Co. and in January 1996 got back all that trackage by acquiring the Chicago, Central and Pacific Railroad Co..) (Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Co.changed its name back to Illinois Central Railroad Co. in 1988).
In 1874, the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad Co. became the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Co. and, also in 1878, became the fifth railroad to complete its tracks across Iowa. The Milwaukee filed bankruptcy late in 1976 and was split into two parts: the “operating core” and the “non-operating core”. Early in 1986 the Milwaukee “operating core” was acquired and merged into the SOO Line Railroad Co., a subsidiary of the CP Rail system formerly known as the Canadian Pacific Co.. The “non-operating core” was liquidated.
Iowa’s rail system has experienced extensive change and restructuring since 1975 as a result of railroad bankruptcies and rail line abandonments. As of Dec. 31, 2001, Iowa has permanently lost approximately 6,595 miles of track since the peak years of 1911 to 1917. Of these about 3,800 miles were lost after 1974. The bankruptcies of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad in the mid-1970s caused the state to lose a significant amount of trackage and service. Today, Iowa has only 3,905 miles of roadway track in operation.
In 2012, Iowa is served by five Class I railroads: the BNSF Railway Co., CN, Canadian Pacific Railway, the Norfolk & Southern Railway, and the Union Pacific Railroad; one Class II railroad, the Iowa Interstate Railroad; and 11 Class III railroads: the Appanoose County Community Railroad, the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, the Burlington Junction Railway, the CBEC Railway, the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway,the D & I Railroad, the D & W Railroad, the Iowa Northern Railroad, the Iowa Traction Railroad, the Iowa River Railroad, and the Keokuk Junction Railway.
These railroads serve five principal gateways or interchange points in the Midwest: Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Omaha, Kansas City,and St. Louis.
History of the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Railway
For additional information on the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Rwy, check these sources out, they have all sorts of pictures:
http://www.r2parks.net/FDDM&S.html this page also includes a comprehensive timeline for the railroad
The Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Railway (reporting marks FDDM) was officially incorporated during the first decade of the 20th century to serve the state capitol of Iowa with points north as an interurban road. However, the history of its line dates as far back as the 1880s, as a standard rail line moving coal from mines in the northern regions of the state. In many ways the FDDM&S (or sometimes referred to as the FtDDM&S or just as its slogan, "The Fort Dodge Line") never acted like a true interurban although it was once electrically operated and used trolley/interurban equipment. Freight was just as important as passengers and this concept allowed the company to thrive for many years, well after the interurban industry collapsed after the 1920s despite its very high operating ratio. Eventually, the road dieselized and was acquired by the Chicago & North Western in the late 1960s which promptly abandoned it less than 20 years later. Today, part of the route is operated by the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad.
The earliest beginnings of the Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern Railway started with the Crooked Creek Railroad, a three-foot narrow-gauge line chartered in 1875. The CCR would complete an eight-mile route from Judd, near Fort Dodge and a connection with the Illinois Central, to Lehigh and a cluster of coal mines. Ten years after it began the CCR upgraded its route to standard-gauge and shortly thereafter in 1892 it purchased the Webster City & Southwestern Railroad. The WC&S was another coal hauler, connecting to the CCR and running 14 miles east to Webster City. These two railroads essentially made up the northern lines of what would later become the FDDM&S. To the south, in 1893, another predecessor was chartered, the Boone Valley Coal & Railway Company.
This system, also a coal hauler, built a small line serving mines near Fraser (northwest of Boone) to nearby Fraser Junction and a connection with the much larger Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway. In 1899, the owners of the BVC&R chartered the Marshalltown & Dakota Railway as an additional coal route with high aspirations of pushing this system from Newton (east of Des Moines) to Sibley, Iowa in the state's northwest corner. Along the way the line would pass through towns such as Fraser, Story City, Gowerie, and Rockwell City. In 1901 it was renamed as the Boone, Rockwell City & Northwestern Railway, and again in 1902 as the Newton & Northwestern. By 1905 the line was opened from Newton to Rockwell City and also had a branch to Colfax. While over 100 miles in length it never made it any further towards Sibley. New owners acquired the N&NW in 1905 and again renamed the property, this time as the Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern Railroad.
While the FDDM&S continued to concentrate on coal it also began to focus on the movement of gypsum near Fort Dodge and general industry located around Des Moines. Additionally, its owners began looking at electrifying part of the railroad as an interurban. It remained focused, however, on freight and in 1906 purchased the Ames & College Street Railway to serve that town. After completing an extension from Hope to Fort Dodge, and establishing an interchange with the Des Moines & Central Iowa it now had a through route between both of the state's major cities (easily Iowa's largest interurban). Service along the entire route opened on November 4, 1907. Soon after, its owners realized that the the N&NW's route from Newton to Rockwell City offered a non-sustainable freight potential and decided to electrifying only part of the route between Hope and Midvale on a 1,200-volt, DC system.
In 1911 the Midvale to Newton section of the N&NW was abandoned and much of the entire FDDM&S route was electrified to some extent. Small editions continued to be added, including a branch from Kelley to Ames (which finally directly connected its Ames & College Street subsidiary) and the purchase of the aforementioned Crooked Creek Railroad in 1916. This route was also energized. For freight service the railroad utilized second-hand General Electric-built freight motors (it acquired more beginning in 1942 from the Oregon Electric) and used Niles Car & Manufacturing Company interurban cars for passenger operations. Part of the reason for the road's success was not only due to its freight traffic but also had numerous interchange partners (sometimes in more than one location) with Class I lines including the Milwaukee Road, Illinois Central, Chicago & North Western, Burlington, and Rock Island.
The Great Depression hit the line hard and it fell into receivership in 1930, emerging in 1942 as the Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern Railway. Beginning in 1954 the FDDM&S began dieselizing its motive power roster while at the same time ended virtually all of its remaining passenger services (branch line services began to be discontinued as early as 1926). Its diesels consisted almost entirely of General Electric products, 44-tonners and 70-tonners along with a Plymouth 65-ton switcher. In 1955 the railroad was purchased by the Salzburg family, which owned a number of shortlines including the Louisiana & North West and Wellsville, Addison & Galeton.
By the 1960s the railroad had cut back to its main line between Des Moines and Fort Dodge with the eastern extension to Webster City. It also was still operating a remaining section of the N&NW between Hope and Gowrie. In 1968 the C&NW acquired the FDDM&S from Salzburg and, unfortunately, was not kind to the road. It immediately began cutting back services and by 1983 was looking to abandon the entire Fort Dodge-Des Moines route. Part of the system, a 12-mile section between Wolf and Boone was spared, and is now operated as the tourist line Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad.
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented. Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them. If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads. Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted. Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.
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