C., B. & Q. Depot, Albia, Iowa
Monroe County has six railroads traversing
her domain - namely, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway, the Albia,
Knoxville & Des Moines Railway ( a branch of the C. B. & Q.), the Iowa
Central, the Centerville, Moravia & Albia Railway, the Chicago, Milwaukee
& St. Paul Railway, and the Wabash (now defunct).
Plans for securing railroads for Albia were projected as early as 1865, when the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway Company, or the Burlington & Missouri Railway Company, as it was then called, proposed to extend their line westward from Ottumwa to Albia and Chariton.
The company wanted Monroe and Lucas counties to raise $100,000 to secure the road, threatening to locate the line through some other territory if that amount was not guaranteed.
The people of Monroe County granted the right of way,
depot grounds at Albia, and took about $14,000 of the company's
stock, which was afterwards bought up by Perkins and other officers of the
company at from 15 cents to 20 cents on the dollar.
The C., B. & Q. traverses the entire portion of Monroe County from east to west, a distance of a little more than 27 miles, and its assessed valuation per mile, in 1896, was $12,570, or a total value of $349,647.
At about the same time that the C., B. & Q. Railroad was secured to Monroe County, a scheme was put on foot to secure a north and south outlet by means of the Iowa Central and the Northern Missouri roads, which latter had existed on paper for some years previous.
About $100,000 was subscribed to secure the Iowa Central from the Mahaska County line down to Albia, its southern terminus. The road was completed to Albia in 1871, and then the people of the county conceived a plan to have a continuous line from the far North down to the Gulf States, by reviving the plans for the construction of the North Missouri Railroad, which had for a few years lain dormant.
General Drake, of Centerville, proposed to build a road from Centerville north to Albia, and thus connect the Iowa Central with the M., I. & N., a road of which he was then president, and which belonged to the Wabash System. He assured the people of Monroe County that the road would be extended on to Des Moines in a year or more from the date of its completion to Albia, if Monroe County would vote a tax for its construction. This tax was to amount to the sum of $20,000; an about $6,000 additional was subscribed to buy the right of way. The tax of $20,000 was levied in Monroe and Troy townships, the people voted to be thus taxed, and the road was built.
To forestall the scheme of the Wabash folks, the C., B. & Q. constructed a spur from Albia to Monroe. They intended to push the road to Centerville, and to some point farther south; but when the Wabash people completed the Centerville, Moravia & Albia Railway, the "Q." abandoned the scheme and permitted their spur to terminate at Moravia. This spur was to have been a continuation of the Albia, Knoxville & Des Moines spur, just completed.
The contract for building the C., M. & A. Railroad was let to Kennedy & Flemming and work began in March, 1880.
On beginning their work, Kennedy & Flemming mortgaged the
road bed to the Farmers' Loan and Trust Company, of New York, to secure a loan
of $400,000. These contractors failed in 1880, with liabilities amounting to
$12,000. Centerville people held most of the claims against the construction
company. The C., M. & A. Company was liable to the construction company to
the extent of its indebtedness, in the sum of four or five thousand dollars.
Kennedy refused to pay his laborers, with the excuse that the measurements were
incorrect. General Drake proposed that a remeasurement be made, and that
Kennedy accompany the engineer. This was agreed to, but that night Kennedy &
Company skipped for parts unknown. Many of Kennedy's creditors were Monroe
County farmers living along the route, who had performed labor and supplied
provisions to the construction company. It is also asserted that some of these
farmers made an arrangement with Kennedy & Company to perform labor in
payment of the tax which they voted to the aid of the C., M. & A. Company,
and that no credit was entered in their favor when the tax was collected.
The M., I. & N. began running trains into Albia in August, 1880, but for several years since its completion it did not flourish. For several years it has only been operated between Albia and Centerville, having abandoned its track between Albia and Harvey, its junctional point on the Wabash. The road at present is operated in conjunction with the Central, and, in addition to a good freight traffic, is giving the public good passenger service, with two trains each way daily. Its length in Monroe County is 11 miles, and its assessed valuation per mile, in 1896, was $2,000, or the total value of the road within Monroe County was fixed at $22,000. General Drake is president of the road, and Russell Sage, of New York, is vice president. Sage is president of the Iowa Central also.
The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy spur from Albia to Moravia, herein referred to as being abandoned, ceased to operate its line, a few years after its completion, and it is doubtful if the road will ever be rehabilitated. For this reason it and the defunct Wabash are not shown on the map. It was originally known as the Moulton & Albia Railway, and its length from Albia to Moravia is 14 miles. In 1896 its assessed valuation per mile was $500. At present the roadbed has reverted to the original property holders, over whose lands the line lay.
The abandoned Wabash track between Albia and
Harvey, which is known in the railway directory as the Wabash, Des Moines &
St. Louis Railway, has 11 miles of track in Monroe County, and its assessed
valuation per mile is $2,500. Its title has not yet lapsed by failure of the
company to operate the line within the time fixed by law.
The Kansas City Division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway traverses the southern portion of Monroe County from east to west. It has 10 miles of track within the county, which in 1896 was assessed at a valuation of $4,000 per mile. It passes within 9 miles of Albia, and at Moravia it has transfer facilities with the C., M. & A. Railway. It was built in the summer of 1886, and has a large coal carrying trade, besides good passenger service.