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Muscatine North & South Railroad Company

In the Beginning














In Eastern Iowa, from Minnesota to Missouri, railroad tracks hug the shore along the west bank of the Mississippi River, except for the stretch between Muscatine and Burlington.  From Muscatine southwestwardly, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (Rock Island Line) follows a straight path through Fruitland, on the Muscatine Island, to a ravine which it follows to the higher prairie ground above the Mississippi River valley.  At the summit the road takes a westerly course through Letts and Fredonia, then crosses the Iowa River to Columbus Junction, just north of Columbus City.  From Columbus Junction, the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railroad (BCR&N) proceeds southeasterly along the western shore of the Iowa River to a point at Wapello.  From this place the road takes a southerly course through Morning Sun, Mediapolis, and Latty.  It then reaches the great river again at Burlington.

In 1893, The Mississippi River is crossed by railroads at nine points along the confines of the Iowa border; at Keokuk, by the Carnegie railroad/highway bridge; at Fort Madison, by the Chicago, Santa Fe and California Railroad; at Burlington by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy RR; at Oakville by the Iowa Central Railway; at Davenport, by the first railroad bridge across the river, owned by the U.S. Government and the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific RR; at Sabula, by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul RR; at Dubuque, by the Illinois Central RR.  Muscatine is the only major city in Iowa along that river without a railroad bridge.

With these facts in mind, on February 15, 1893, the Muscatine North and South Railroad Company was organized under the laws of the State of Iowa.  The purpose was to build, own and operate a single or double track railroad from Muscatine east to Chicago, and west to some point on the Missouri River.  It would build a railroad bridge across the Mississippi River at Muscatine to accomplish this feat, and also build and operate branch lines.  The authorized capital was $10,000,000.

The world seems to turn a little slower at the end of the 19th century.  People work hard at providing food and shelter, and do not have the conveniences that will be taken for granted within the next few decades.  During 1893, Grover Cleveland is inaugurated to his second term as President of the United States, following a 4 year term by Benjamin Harrison.  The United States of America is comprised of 44 states, and in the last five years has added six new ones.  The U.S. Branch Mint at Carson City, Nevada will cease production of coins during this year, coins will continue to be produced at Philadelphia, San Francisco and New Orleans, however.  The automobile will be invented in Europe this year, and within the next three decades, it will begin to reduce America's dependence on the railroad as the major means of transportation.

Throughout this website, MN&S and MB&S will be used.  Muscatine North & South RR, MN&S, was the name used from 1893 to 1916.  Muscatine, Burlington & Southern RR, MB&S, was the name used from 1916 to 1924.  Five miles of track remained after 1924 as a branch of the line in Muscatine under the name Burlington, Muscatine & Northwestern, BM&NW RR.  Also mentioned are the CB&Q, sometimes called The Q, which is the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy RR; and the CRI&P, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR, also called the Rock Island Line.  Actual newspaper accounts of the history of the road have been used quite extensively, their descriptions provide an entertainment value not found in today's writing.  We hope you enjoy this historical account of the railroad.


The Men and Their Dream - Those individuals responsible for the building of the MN&S, and a brief history of each.
A Great Success - The Kingston Railroad Rally that exceeded all expectations.
Building the Road - Accounting of the facts and obstacles overcame in the construction of the MN&S.
Cost of the New Road - The costs involved and the approximated finished worth.
Last Spike Driven - The ceremonial driving of the final spike.
Our New Railroad - The first published time table and the only one to contest the trackage rights.
The Initial Train - A reprinting of the original article written January 20, 1899 in the Muscatine Journal.
Contact Information - Mailing address, books, and photos available for the Muscatine North & South R.R.

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