Jewell Historical Society

Page 2 - Railroad news in & towards Jewell, Iowa

The Toledo & North Western Railroad and the Chicago Northwestern Railways

Railroad companies were anxious to sell land to help their business plan,
so they advertised to attract more settlers.


Here are some of the pages from the 1885 Travelers' Official Guide which told of Steamers and Trains in America.

     The Official Guide of the Railways, now known as the Official Railway Guide, was originally produced by National Railway Publication Company of New York City, beginning in 1868. The modern Official Railway Guide provides routing and shipping information for freight on United States railroads and is now published by the Rail Resource division of JOC (formerly Journal of Commerce).

In the post-Civil War era of the late 1860s, as the transcontinental railroad pushed westward across the prairies, the burgeoning growth of railroad passenger traffic created the need for accurate train schedule information.  On October 2, 1866, the National Association of General Passenger and Ticket Agents passed a resolution calling for a "railway guide" to be published, for use as a reference by all association members.   The result was the monthly publication of the Travelers Official Railway Guide of the United States, Mexico and Canada, beginning with a 200-page first edition in June 1868.  Eventually the Official Guide would list all of the passenger train schedules of railroads in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America.   At the peak of rail passenger service in the 1920s, "The Guide", as it was commonly known in the industry, exceeded 1,500 pages and was widely used by railroad personnel, travel agents, and corporate travel departments.  With the advent of passenger airlines the Official Guide included schedules for major US airlines.   The Official Guide was the primary reference used by ticket agents for all railroads in the U.S. and Canada, and for international rail travel to Mexico.  The Guide was especially useful for constructing connections among the many railroads of the time.

The Official Guide also included some high priority freight schedules, system maps, listing of company officers, an index of all railroad stations, industry news briefs and personnel changes, rosters of key railroad officials, and new passenger train announcements, along with steamship schedules.

There are names of the many railroad and steamship companies of our nation.
See the list of companies listed alphabetically below.

One of those many railroad companies listed in the 1885 Travelers' Official Guide
was the one residents of central Iowa are familiar with, The Chicago & NorthWestern Railway Company.


Jewell Junction is listed in several pages of the 1885 Travelers' Official Guide.

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(You may click to enlarge.)

The story of the Chicago and NorthWestern Railway (C&NW) is one of the most dramatic in American railroad history.  It is a story of innovation, service, and perseverance.   From its first little wood-burning locomotive, the Pioneer, to the streamlined diesel powered trains of the 1940s, the history of the C&NW reflected the spirit of American pioneering.  It became one of  the most powerful influence in the development of the Northwest from Chicago to the Black Hills, Lake Superior and accross Iowa.

     Beginning as the Galena & Chicago Union out of Chicago in 1848, under the guidance of William Butler Ogden, the railroad pushed out into the forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota to the farming country of Iowa and the plains of Nebraska and the Dakotas.   It was the first railroad to be completed to Omaha in January, 1867 to connect to Union Pacific and make transcontinental rail transportation possible.

       Steam locomotives burn coal, wood or oil to heat water and turn it into steam, so to operate steam locomotives it is vital to have a supply of clean water.  The steam is then used to move pistons connected to huge rods that turn the locomotive's wheels.  The dam (now removed) on the drainage ditch for Mud Lake (Lake Cairo) allowed the water reservoir just north of the Railroad Stone Arch to fill, so water could be pumped to the water tower near the depot.  That enabled for the steam engines to load the water they needed from the standpipes.    (See images below.)

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This map may be clicked to enlarge.

The above image of the Jewell Depot looks west.

The loss of the Jewell Depot was published in the
January 3, 1985 edition of the South Hamilton Record News:

Jewell loses landmark as depot is torched
Photo and text by Jeff Heeren

     Jewell lost a landmark last week when the Jewell Depot was burned down by the local fire department.

     The depot was built in 1880 to serve the Toledo and Northwestern Railroad Company which had tracks built from the south and east, and also to the north to Webster City.   David Jewell and the railroad reached agreement to build the depot roundhouse and stockyard on Jewell's property, and that the complex would be known as Jewell Junction.

     In the early years, the depot was used primarily for passenger cars, where people could purchase tickets.   But it was also used for sending mail, sending telegrams at any time of day or night, and just as a place to meet with friends.

     After the last passenger train ran in 1956, an agent was placed there to control switches, arranging trains and other railroad jobs.   The depot was used until about three years ago when the agent was removed by the railroad.

     The Jewell Junction Depot was the first building and first sign of life for what has become the city of Jewell.   While the structure exists no longer, memories of the once-stately building will be remembered, and its history will likely be passed on from generation to generation.

Those who are interested in railroads should visit The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad facility in Boone.
Inside the adjacent James H. Andrew Railroad Museum and History Center there is much information.
This following image shows one of the fine display panels (text can be read below).


     The Chicago and North Western was the first railroad to operate a railway post office; the first to run sleeping cars west of Chicago; the first to carry dining cars between Chicago and San Francisco; and the first to operate by telegraph.   In 1900, the C&NW was one of the first railroads to establish a pension plan for its employees.   The 1929 depression resulted in a 75% decline in passengers, manufactured goods decreased 64% and iron ore fell by 95%.   Farm products only failed by 26%.   A petition for bankruptcy was filed on June 27, 1936 but held up in court until 1943 when the company's traffic levels were breaking all records due to World War II.

     Despite the bankruptcy, the C&NW entered the streamline era in order to compete with the other railroads providing streamline service between Chicago and the West Coast.   In Iowa, the C&NW instroduced streamline service in conjunction with the Union Pacific to provide service between Chicago and the West Coast.   The City of Portland made its inaugural run on June 6, 1935,  In May and June, 1936, the City of Los Angeles, City of San Francisco, and City of Denver began operations.   Initially, the trains operated one or two days per week and in 1947 were upgraded to daily service.

     Across the C&NW system the company purchased nine streamline steam locomotives in spring, 1938 to power the Union Pacific/Chicago & NorthWestern streamliners through Iowa.   They were "Super Power" locomotives and were the last steam locomotives purchased by the C&NW.   They operated only for a few years powering streamline trains and were downgraded to other freight and passenger assignments as new diesels were purchased.

     On October 30, 1955 the Union Pacific terminated its arrangement with the C&NW and transferred its streamline trains to the Milwaukee Road.   The C&NW created the Corn King and the Omahan streamliners to operated between Omaha and Chicago and provide service to Clinton, Mount Vernon, Cedar Rapids, Tama, Marshalltown, Nevada, Ames, Boone, Jefferson, Carroll, Denison, Missouri Valley, and Council Bluffs.   The Kate Shelley 400 operated btween Boone and Chicago.  In April, 1960 service was cut back to one train per day from Clinton to Chicago and the streamliners across Iowa on the C&NW disappeared into history.

Railroad related music
<-----reflecting Railroad life.


Renewal of the Jewell subdivision in 2022