Monday, May 4, 2020

Iowa's First Abandoned Railway: The Farmers Union Railroad

Despite being one of hundreds of failed short-lined railroads throughout the United States, the Farmers Union Railroad is notable for a number of reasons.

In 1875, the company was incorporated in the State of Iowa to build a road from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River in the central part of the state, a distance of about 300 miles.

What wound up being built was a wooden-railed, narrow-gauge railway between Liscomb, IA and Beaman, IA, roughly between 10-12 miles in length. One engine and 10 cars was all the company could afford to run the route. As a result of poor construction, rolling stock, and lack of financing, the railroad lasted only months into 1876. I simply can't imagine a wooden railway operating anywhere near the length that the original charter for the road was considering.

From Liscomb east to Beaman, IA, almost no trace of this railroad exists today, and as far as we can tell, no photographs exist of the road itself. By virtue of its 1876 abandonment, it was the first abandoned railroad in Iowa.

Not all was lost of the proposal, however. Between Vinton, IA and Trayer, IA, the Burlington Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway completed part of the right of way of the route, which fared much better, and passed down to the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific, and later the Iowa Northern Railway short line before being abandoned in the early 2000's. It is now the Old Creamery Trail.

Iowa has a ton of abandoned railways, which we do our best to map. The State of Iowa has been a fantastic resource to that end, with their own map of railroad abandonments within the state.

Image: Abandoned & Out-of-Service Railroad Lines

Thanks as always for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment