Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Correspondents

January 25, 2007

The end of the Interurban Railroad

The Interurban electric railways to Mystic and to Moravia had been wildly popular with the citizens as a means for the miners and their families to visit their close relations more frequently than when they had to harness up the horse and hitch it to the buggy. The populace could jump on the train to buy their groceries or other items that might be hard to come by. The youngsters of Mystic even used the train to make a daily trip to Centerville to attend high school. With all this traffic, the interurban generated considerable revenue for the company.

It is true that the horseless carriage had been invented some years before the interurban railway between towns had attracted such unbounded enthusiasm. I have seen a picture of Dr. Heaton driving his Cadillac, manufactured in 1903. It had high, wooden wheels and looked like a buggy. Some other early cars were made by Durant, De Soto, Essex, Buick, Whippet, Graham Page, Overland Willis and Chevrolet. These contraptions could not be taken very seriously for a number of years. Hardly anyone could afford one and they were so terribly unreliable. Tires were blowing out constantly and the inner tubes would have to be patched while out on the road. An owner had to be a mechanic to keep the car in operation. The roads were very poor for a time, and it was much easier to just ride the train and have some confidence in arriving at the destination at a reasonable hour.

After a few years, Henry Ford came upon the scene and revolutionized the auto industry with his Model T Ford, made with assembly line production, keeping the prices low. A saying prevailed that you could buy any color you wanted as long as it was black. Although the Model T also had its idiosyncrasies, cars began popping up among the ordinary people, instead of just the doctors, lawyers, bankers and coal mine owners. As the depression eased in the 30’s the motto became “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage”.

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