Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


May 25, 2006

The Railroad Comes to Clarkdale

In the last few weeks, I have told you about the Milwaukee Railroad coming from Moravia through Darby and then Rathbun in 1886. The next stop on the route as it went southwest was the coal town of Orrville, presently known as Clarkdale. The location is just south and east of the intersection of 477th St. and 200th Ave.

The early settlers would find chunks of rock on the ground that would burn and began to use it for their stoves. Then they began to dig into the sides of hills for more coal and soon a fledgling mine was born. The farmers would haul the coal with their wagons for local use until the railroads came along. Then they would get spur lines built right to the mines, making the industry much more profitable. The locomotives on the railroads became one of the big users of coal.

Soon after the railroad was built, the first coal mine in the Orrville area was started by Alex and Mary Clark, who came from Scotland in the 1880‚s. It was first known as the Clarkdale Coal Co. When William and George Clark arrived with their families in 1891 and began to take part in the operation, it became the Clark and Son Coal Co. No. 1. The parents and the two boys were naturalized in 1869. The mine was a small mine, located on the south side of the track, just west of 200th Ave. It had a 70-foot shaft and operated until 1914.

A post office was established at the railroad crossing in 1893 right near their mine with the name of Clarkdale Post Office. The Clarks all lived in the immediate area of the post office.

Alex and William Orr were brothers who also came to America from Scotland as young men. They were born in about 1841. They probably came to America together and may have spent some time in the mine fields of Pennsylvania. Alex Orr‚s wife, Harriet, came from Illinois and William Orr‚s wife, Emma, came from Pennsylvania. William was naturalized in 1860.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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