Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


January 25, 2007

The end of the Interurban Railroad


As time passed, the railways found themselves unable to compete with the advent of the high speed automobile, particularly as roads were gradually improved. The American public began to love the convenience and thrill of driving their own cars wherever they wanted to go, rather than be confined to one particular route

Ultimately automobiles and large trucks destroyed not only the interurban passenger service but disrupted the entire railroad industry as rail lines could not compete with truck deliveries to local markets. Most of the railroads in Appanoose County have disappeared entirely.

Passenger service on the electric interurbans, both to Albia and to Mystic was discontinued in 1933. The Southern Iowa Railway Company was created as a subsidiary of ISU in 1941 to continue operation of the electric railroads to deliver coal and other freight. Freight service on the Mystic line was phased out by steps in 1944, 1958 and 1954.

By 1944 the northern 10 miles of track to Albia were abandoned. In the late 50’s the Southern Iowa Railway became the focus of attention from railfans throughout the Midwest. Many flocked to Centerville to photograph the equipment and take excursions over the line.

An attempt was made to run an excursion train on the railroad for a short time, but it was really unsafe. Lyle Kesterson told me he took the trip with Charley Poffenberger driving the train. The route was from the old depot in North Centerville to the switching station at the Country Club and back to the junction with the CB&Q; at the old brick yard. One of the passengers from Ohio insisted on giving Charley a new whistle and blowing it at the crossings. It was probably a very nostalgic but dangerous trip.

Some of the ties were so rotted or missing that the rails would bend down almost to the railroad bed. It was hopeless to try to replace the rotted ties because there were so many. The trestle bridges over the Chariton River and Cooper Creek were very bad. In the picture, Car. No. 10 is shown on the Cooper Creek trestle, on the way to the CB&Q; transfer terminal.

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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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