Railroad Tracks Across Iowa

Time Frame: 1856

Railroad tracks were laid from Council Bluffs to Iowa City in 1856. Four railroad companies created train lines that spanned the state of Iowa from the Mississippi to the Missouri rivers.
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“From Here to There,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 6, Iowa Public Television, 1978.

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In 1856 the United States Congress gave the railroads almost 4 million acres of Iowa land, about 1/9th of the states area. The race was on. It was felt the first line to hook up with the Union Pacific in Council Bluffs would capture a large share of the national freight and passenger service. The first line to reach Council Bluffs was the North Western road in 1867. Two years later the Rock Island line reached the Missouri River; shortly after the Burlington came in third; finally the Illinois Central.


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