Jewell Junction was a railroad town.

     The earliest railroad effort in the area was in 1874 when a narrow gauge (3 feet between rails) rail line had been completed from Des Moines to Ames.   First known as the Iowa and Minnesota, and then the Des Moines and Minnesota, the line came north to meet the standard guage (4 feet and 8 and one half inches between rails) east-west rail line in Ames.   Under the railroad president James Callanan, a prominent Des Moines banker and real estate agent, the narrow gauge was finally known as the Des Moines and Minneapolis Railroad and was to be built for points north.  For any settlement that hoped for access to markets, a railroad became a necessity.   Callanan started his railroad construction north.   Gilbert Station was reached.   Early in 1877, an election was held in Lafayette Township of Story County for a five percent tax to pull the Des Moines and Minneapolis Railroad to Story City.   Randall was reached next.

     By the spring of 1877, it was determined that if the people in four townships in the southeast part Hamilton County (Ellsworth township, Lincoln Township, Lyon and Scott) taxed themselves 5%, they might successfully invite the railroad company to build north to this area, but the monies would have been made available only if the railroad had actually been constructed and operated to within a mile of those townships by December 1 of 1978.   Although this settlement was originally planned to have the name Lakin, for an early pioneer of that part of the county, they discovered that a Mr. Callanan was the primary investor of the railroad.   They became convinced if they would adopt "Callanan" to be their community's name, the railroad would come there.   A town was laid out and was platted as Callanan on April 19, 1878.  This was the first platted town in Southeast Hamilton County.

     As the railroad building fever reached a frenzy, the companies began to build extensions throughout the state.   The railroads wanted to capitalize on the investments, so about every seven miles, a depot would be erected, a siding laid down, and a town would materialize around that new connection to the outside world.   The railroads also constructed lines soley to claim an area and to discourage incursion by competitors.   The Cedar Rapids and Missouri, now know as the Chicago and North Western Railroad, did just that.  Through a maze of interconnected directorships, new railroad companies came into existance and just as quickly disappeared.

    One new line, the Toledo and North Western Company of Tama, proposed building a line north and west of Tama into the yet unconnected Iowa lands towards Sioux City.   On May 22, 1880, the Toledo and North Western proposed building a line from Tama City to northwest Iowa and on into Minnesota if they, too, could win tax incentives and real estate bargains along the way.   With remarkable fervor, the Toledo and North Western completed an 80.39 mile line from Toledo to Webster City and ran its first passenger train between the two cities on December 6, 1880.  When the line was constructed, it passed west through newly developed Hubbard, Radcliffe, the new town of Ellsworth, and to David Jewell's enticement of offering land for depots, shops and yards.  The Jewell family household was north of the coming east-west track.


     This rapid development in from the east brought a stirring of activity in little towns at the end of the narrow gauge.   It was clear the new railroad missed the existing town located to the southeast, Callanan.   Big money could await those who rose to take advantage of the possiblity of a new town and now two area families would make that effort.   John R. and Jane R. King of Callanan came to this area for the profit.


     With money from his grain and saloon businesses in Callanan from 1878 until 1881, John and his wife Jane bought up what property they believed would be the site of the new town along the Toledo and North Western.   With his money he persuaded the railroad to build a depot on his land south of the tracks and applied for a post office to be in his part of town and offered for sale lots south of the tracks.  To make more money, King platted his lots at 22 feet in width and 120 feet in depth.  King's Main Street shrank to 80 feet wide rather than maintain the 100 foot width in David Jewell's proposed town.  From the Jewell family account, there never was any animosity between the Jewells and the Kings.  The Kings made the money, but the name of Jewell stuck, as the new entity was labeled Jewell's Junction or Jewell Junction.

     Once the railroad had arrived and buisinesses began to build on King's land, the original town began to move to the new Main Street, today's north-south street through Jewell.   David Jewell and his wife were eventually buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Jewell.   The King family legacy remains through a scholarship fund for local students known as the Jane R. King fund.

Early map showing railroads in Hamilton County

Don't be confused by the names (all caps) of Hamilton County townships on this map.

Some places like Randall and Kamrar (and Gilbert Station) are not located on a state highway,
but those towns prospered because they were on the railway.

Click to enlarge

to Page 2 of Railroads in Jewell