Early Iowa Railroads

Council Bluffs....West edge of Iowa, by 
Missouri river.
The rails and trails are a fascinating part 
of the Council Bluffs history. As four 
railroads raced across Iowa to the river in 
1856 (1. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, 2. 
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, 3. Chicago & 
North Western and 4. Illinois Central Iowa 
Division), The Chicago & North Western 
Railroad won the race to the Missouri River 
and Council Bluffs, in January 1867, when 
Abraham Lincoln designated Council Bluffs as 
the eastern terminus of the trans-continental 

Mills county...also west edge
The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad 
built lines across the county in 1867 running 
east and west. Branch lines for this railroad 
included the Tabor and Northern, the 
Sidney-Carson Branch with headquarters at 
Hastings, and the Wabash route to St. Louis. 
The Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs 
Railroad ran north and south. Gradually 
branch lines died out. Today the C.B. & Q. 
has become the Burlington Northern Line and 
the Tabor and Northern Railroad is called the 
Colorado and Eastern.

Clarke county..Mid-southern edge
Early transportation was by stage with the 
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad coming 
to Clarke County in 1868. In 1881 a 
north-south narrow gauge railroad began 
running from Des Moines, through Osceola, to 
Missouri. It was abandoned many years ago. 
Today, Osceola is situated at the junctions 
of Interstate 35, Highway 34, and the 
Burlington railroad.