Muscatine North & South Railroad Company
The Last Spike Driven
Monday, January 16, the Day of Completion of Railroad
MANY SPECTATORS ASSEMBLE
Despite the opposition, laying track was completed from Elrick Junction to Muscatine on Monday, January 16, 1899. The following article, commemorating this act, is reprinted from the Muscatine Journal of that day:
The Connecting Link Between Muscatine
and Railroad Competition Made Today
- Richards as a Spike-Driver -
Shortly before 10 o'clock this morning the last spike on the mainline on the Muscatine North and South Railroad was driven, and as the ring of the last stroke was still vibrating through the air a large crowd of spectators, who had watched the act, looked at each other and nodded and smiled their pleasure. The much-talked-of new railroad, which holds in it's completion such a bright future for Muscatine, was at last a reality, for there lay the tracks and behind them loomed up the spacious depot, and last more convincing there puffed and snorted up the track a "M.N. & S." engine pushing before it eight Iowa Central flat-cars with one box car attached to the rear. The engine, however, was not marked "M.N. & S.," but "M. & N.S.," the error no doubt of some well meaning, but misinformed, painter.
The construction train and workmen commenced work on the track early this morning and the marvelous speed with which they laid the unfinished part up to the depot was watched all morning by a large and interested crowd of people. It was at first thought that the achievement would be finished about noon, but after the work accomplished in half an hour's time was seen, it was easy to perceive that a much shorter time would be all that was necessary for the workmen to complete their task. Chas. E. Richards, the genial West Second Street meat market man, had the honor of driving the last spike, which act he performed very effectually, but with hardly the precision of the gentleman from whom he borrowed the hammer.
Actual work on the railroad was commenced about the first of August, 1898, and rather slow progress was made at first. The first track was laid in the early part of November, work being commenced at Elrick, the other end of the line, and pushed toward Muscatine. Thus, in a little over two months time over 28 miles of track had been laid, including the necessary switches, crossings, etc. Considering the bad weather which prevailed a greater part of the time and the condition of the ground, it is certainly a fine record.
The mainline is now finished past the depot and up to Papoose Creek, but there is still a side track or switch to be put in which will extend from Papoose Creek down to a point near where the main track crossed the foot of Chestnut Street. The ties are already laid for this and the work will be pushed to completion. The construction train with the men aboard steamed back to Grandview at about 11:30, where the latter where to get their dinner on the boarding cars. As the train pulled slowly out of the station at the time a swarm of youngsters, and some who were not very young, jumped aboard, rode a short distance, and now boast that they were passengers on the first train out of Muscatine on the new railroad.
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