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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Depot. Photo courtesy: Dubuque and Its Neighborhoods, Harger and Blish, 1897
CHICAGO, MILWAUKEE, and ST. PAUL RAILROAD. Part of the Canadian Pacific and formerly the Soo Line, the Milwaukee tracks in Dubuque County trace the shoreline of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER from the northern corner of Jefferson Township near Waupeton to the southern corner of Mosalem Township.

Many of the county's most colorful legends have developed around these tracks. A widely believed story stated that during PROHIBITION trains made unscheduled ten minutes stops at such places as Cameron Siding, Ashby's Ferry, Finley's Landing, or Specht's Ferry. Such remote areas would have made excellent supply points for enterprising bootleggers.

During more than one hundred years, there were several spectacular wrecks including a serious accident near EAGLE POINT on September 19, 1887. Two trains, both running late, collided head-on at a sharp curve near the present ZEBULON PIKE LOCK AND DAM. Five people were killed, including both engineers and firemen, and scores were injured. This was the worst train wreck in Dubuque County history. Another historic event occurred on October 10, 1936, when the new "Hiawatha" passenger train stopped at the Milwaukee depot on its way between Marquette, Iowa and Elgin, Illinois.

The economic impact of the railroad was recognized for years. It addition to being an important economic carrier, the railroad's choice to locate its shops in Dubuque meant repair work for nearly 3,000 miles or nearly half of the system. It was estimated that the average amount per month paid out for labor was nearly $300,000 in 1896. It was believed in 1896 that the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul numbered more employee residents in Dubuque than the total of the other railroads together. (1)

The luxurious modern "Hiawatha" arrived at the Dubuque depot on October 10, 1936. Coming from Marquette, it was headed to Elgin, Illinois where it would be placed on service between Chicago and Milwaukee. An estimated 3,000 people visited the train which was capable of traveling 139 miles per hour. The event was covered by WKBB. (2)

The depot was demolished in 1965.




1. The C., M. & St. P Railroad, Dubuque Daily Herald Souvenir Edition, January 25 1896, p. 20

2. Kruse, Len. Unforgettable Radio, Dubuque: Union-Hoermann Press, 1993, p. 172