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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.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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DUBUQUE WESTERN RAILROAD. The Dubuque Western Railroad was incorporated on September 10, 1855. The Dubuque Western Railroad and the DUBUQUE, ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL RAILROAD occupied joint depot grounds and were upon the main channel of the Mississippi and centrally located. The Dubuque Western leased the line of the DUBUQUE AND PACIFIC RAILROAD as far as Farley Junction, from which it passed southwestward to Anamosa. Its object was to strike the Iowa coal fields. This road could not go through Cascade owing to the heavy grades. (1)

         "The contract cost of the first thirty miles from Dubuque
         to Dyersville is $1,100,000, which is $36,666 per mile; 
         this includes building, rolling stock, etc., except fencing 
         and ballasting."
                     (Express and Herald, November 4, 1857.)

In 1858 the citizens of Dubuque voted to loan the railroad $250,000. (2) On February 19, 1872 the city treasurer paid the last of the "Arnot indebtedness." The $20,807.02 paid on this date was a portion of the old city debt created by issuing bonds in 1858. These bonds had become the property of Thomas Arnot of Elira, New York who sued the city and recovered judgment. The judgment was settled for $93,289,32. One sixth of the amount was paid immediately with the balance at 6% divided into five equal annual payments. (3)

This company began with post notes of sixty days, printed date of October 20, 1857, with ten percent interest by November. The next issue had only the year 1857 printed with month and day filled in. The firm of Edward Mendel of Chicago was commissioned to make notes of 50 cents, $1, $3, $5, and $10, all being post notes due with ten percent interest. Solon LANGWORTHY became the president about December 15, 1857 and his name appears as president on notes after #800. This highest number noted is 3816. The notes appear to have been printed on sheets of four. (4)

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Financial difficulties, however, led to the company's reorganization as the DUBUQUE, MARION, AND WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY. (5) Continued financial difficulties led this line to be reorganized as the DUBUQUE SOUTH WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY. (6) Years later the track became part of the Milwaukee, Chicago and St. Paul Railroad. (7)

In 1972 the Delaware County Historical Society asked the Chicago, Milwauke, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad to abandon the eleven-miles of track between Worthington and Sand Springs and leave it intact. As one of the oldest sections of track in Iowa, it was hoped the track could become the first section of railroad track ever listed in the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES. (8)



1. 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

2. Ibid.

3. "A Debt Paid," The Daily Herald, February 21, 1877, p. 1

4. Oakes, Dean G. Iowa: Obsolete Notes and Scrip Privately published, Iowa City, Iowa 1982

5. Donovan

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

7. Everly, John and Becky Sisko,"Trains Made Tracks in Tri-States," Telegraph Herald, September 23, 2001, p. 1A

8. Brimeyer, Jack. "History Buffs Want Track Saved," Telegraph-Herald, February 13, 1972, p. 20