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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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DUBUQUE SOUTH WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY. The history of this railroad begins with the DUBUQUE WESTERN RAILROAD which was incorporated on September 10, 1855. (1) The railroad was let to contractors in January, 1857, and was to be thirty-one miles long — four between Dubuque and the junction with the DUBUQUE AND PACIFIC RAILROAD and the balance between Farley and Anamosa. The road was let at twenty-five thousand dollars a mile. (2) By 1859 it had reached Sand Springs, fourteen miles to the southwest. By 1860 trains were entering Amana when financial difficulties resulted in it being reorganized as the DUBUQUE, MARION, AND WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY. (3) When it again faced financial problems, the line was reorganized to become the Dubuque South Western Railroad Company.

By 1863 the railroad had extended track to Marion, Iowa. In two more years, track had been extended to Cedar Rapids. (4) The line involved such important Iowans as Jesse P. FARLEY, William Boyd ALLISON and Platt SMITH which undoubtedly brought business. Reports of the railroad indicated that ridership and freight carried on the line both doubled between 1863 and 1864. (5) Earnings between the two years rose $135,000. (6) Reports in February 1865 indicated that several hundred thousand bushels of grain was awaiting shipment at various towns served by the line. (7)

Despite the bright prospects, the line was plagued by problems. It was poorly constructed and had steep grades and poor equipment. (8) Once it was controlled by the Milwaukee Railroad, the section between Sand Springs and Marion which was especially steep, was abandoned and a two-mile connection was built from Sand Springs to Paralta and then into Marion.



1. Donovan, Frank P. Jr. Iowa Railroads. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2000, p. 211

2. Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Online: http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/franklin-t-oldt/history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl/page-28-history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl.shtml

3. "Report of the Dubuque Southwestern Railroad," Dubuque Democratic Herald, Feb. 2, 1865, p. 4. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Q1xYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Xc4MAAAAIBAJ&pg=2196,64182&dq=railroad+bridge+dubuque&hl=en

4. Tigges, John and Jacobson, Jon. Milwaukee Road Narrow Gauge: The Chicago, Bellevue, Cascade and Western. Pruett Publishing Company, 1985, p. 2

5. "Report of the Dubuque Southwestern Railroad"

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Donovan