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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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IOWA PACIFIC RAILROAD. The Iowa Pacific Railroad was incorporated on October 1, 1870. The goal of the road was to connect Dubuque with the western and northern boundaries of Iowa and to form connections with the Union Pacific and Northern Pacific railroads. (1)

In 1872 faced with construction costs and urgency to lay track, railroad investors felt it would prove more profitable if the CHICAGO, DUBUQUE AND MINNESOTA RAILROAD and all the branches from it should be under one management. (2) The Iowa and Pacific was sold on April 29, 1873 to satisfy construction claims from Maurice Brown and George W. Mitchell. (3)

The Iowa Pacific was the rail link at Fayette, Iowa with the Turkey Valley branch of the Chicago, Dubuque and Minnesota Railroad. To enable this unified management, G. W. Mitchell and Platt SMITH resigned as directors of the Iowa Pacific. Julius K. GRAVES, president of the Chicago, Dubuque and Minnesota, replaced Mitchell as the president of the Iowa Pacific. Joseph A. RHOMBERG and William ANDREW replaced Mitchell and Smith on the Iowa Pacific board of directors. (4)

On January 3, 1876 Graves received word that $2,660,000 worth of bonds that been sold to capitalists in London, England. Negotiations of the sale had begun in August 1875. The money secured the completion from the CHICAGO, DUBUQUE AND MINNESOTA RAILROAD junction in Fayette County to Fort Dodge. (5)

In 1877 hope arose in Dubuque that the city could be tied to the Iowa Pacific. It meant changing the Iowa Pacific into a narrow gauge and using a route that had not previously been seriously considered. The route would have the Dubuque feeder line, a narrow gauge, leave the city by way of the Chicago, Dubuque and Minnesota tracks as far as the BEE BRANCH. It would then proceed up the Couler Valley to Thompson's Mill and then follow the north branch of the Maquoketa River to Holy Cross. Proceeding westward to Strawberry Point, it would follow a third rail on the Davenport and Railroad to Fayette where it would tie into the Iowa Pacific. It was estimated that with $5,000 per mile it could be developed to Belmond where the line would meet another narrow gauge that would take it into Fort Dodge. (6)

On April 30, 1879 a public auction was held in which unpaid subscriptions to the railroad were sold. Among the noted unpaid subscriptions were those of the following and the amount paid:

     Platt SMITH                    $13,750       $10.00
     Henry L. STOUT                 $16,400       $15.00
     Richard A. Babbage             $15,000       $ 5.00
     William G. STEWART             $15,700       $15.00
     Maurice BROWN                  $10,000       $10.00

Despite the small purchase price, the sale realized $100,000 all paid by Austin ADAMS. (7)

The Iowa Pacific existed from 1870 to 1879. It was succeeded by the DUBUQUE AND DAKOTA RAILROAD and the Mason City and Fort Dodge Railroad. (8)



1. "The Iowa Pacific," Dubuque Herald, January 7, 1876, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18740107&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

2. "Iowa Pacific Railroad," Daily Herald, April 23, 1872

3. "Sale of the Iowa Pacific," Dubuque Herald, April 25, 1873, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18730425&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. Ibid.

5. "The Iowa Pacific,"

6. "A New Railroad," Dubuque Herald, September 12, 1877, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18770912&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

7. "Iowa Pacific Stock," Dubuque Herald, April 30, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790430&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

8. "List of Iowa Railroads," Wikipedia. Online: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Iowa_railroads