Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Correspondents

November 24, 2006

The railroad from Moravia to Centerville

In the past several months I have written about the towns and coal mines in Appanoose County that were brought to fruition by the many railroads that were built in the 1870’s and 1880’s. The Centerville, Moravia and Albia Railroad was built in 1880 with stops at Main Station, Rosebrook, Dennis and Forbush before tying in to the Burlington Railroad at a switching station at the west edge of Centerville. It was leased to the Wabash system in October of the same year. In 1889 the line was leased to Iowa Central.

The first village along the railroad, proceeding south from Moravia, was Main Station, two miles south and two miles west of Moravia. It was named for the pioneer Daniel Main, from Germany, who came to Appanoose County as a young man of 25. Lewis Main Sr. and John W. Main were also early pioneer farmers in the area. The Main families each had many children resulting in Main being a very common name in the area.



In 1887, the name of the Main Station post office was changed to Ray. The village began to develop, and there was a large cheese factory there. There was a Methodist Episcopal congregation called Pleasant Plain since about 1852 who met in a log cabin near where the boat marina is today. The church was discontinued in that location and land was acquired west of Main Station for a new Fairview Church and cemetery. The church was recently moved to the Moravia Museum. There was a terrible tornado through the Main Station in 1894 in which Mrs. Wm. McDanel and her grand daughter, Stella Robinson were whirled about in the air, holding hands. Mrs. Mc Danel lost her life from her injuries. I will relate the story of the tornado in a future article.

Main Station had a general store, cheese factory and post office. There was never any coal mined near the town of Main Station and the town eventually withered away. The Ray post office was discontinued in 1906. Railroad operation was discontinued in 1958 and the tracks removed. All that remains of the former village is the railroad embankment on the abandoned right of way, about half a mile west of the Milwaukee underpass.

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