Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Correspondents

December 14, 2006

The origin of Electric Interurban System

Over the past several months I have discussed all of the major railroads in the county and the towns and coal mines that have flourished because of the presence of the railroad.  I still have to talk about the Mystic Electric Interurban Railroad, built in 1910 and the rail line to Moravia after it was electrified in 1914.

Electically powered transportation was initiated in Centerville in1902.  The origin of this means of transportation from the Levee to the Square goes way back to 1886 when the mule railroad was established.

When the Rock Island depot was built in 1871, it was located way out in the country, more than a mile south of the Centerville city square.  It was a half-mile further south than the city had intended due to a misunderstanding in the wording of the contract with the Rock Island Railroad.

At that time there were no sidewalks connecting the Levee with Centerville proper.  A single road led to the business district, and pedestrians were forced to hunt paths, often muddy, between the hedgerows where footing was the best.  The merchants of Centerville were greatly concerned that the town would gravitate south to the area of the two railroad depots on the Levee and so promoted better transportation to the railway stations. 

 So the mule railway, called the Peoples Street Railway, was started by a man believed to be Jake Hudsonville in 1886.  Clark and Peatman built the line and with it a plank runway for the mules to trot along and keep out of the mud.  The mules were changed every two hours and kept in a barn across the street from the present Catholic Church.  The line was sold to James Wooden in 1891 and operated by his son, C.R. Wooden.  Eventually the cars rolled on steel rails as can be seen it the picture.

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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?"

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