Franklin T Oldt.

History of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 27 of 56)
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was the demand for quick river transit the Diamond Jo Company
prepared to construct fast passenger boats to ply from St. Louis
to St. Paul — all of steel and to be built here ; many steel barges
were projected. Six steel hull steamers were planned at once.
The design was to separate the passenger and freight traffic. By
July, 1885, the ice harbor was practically completed. The J. K.
Graves, an iron hull rafter, was built in the ice harbor in 1885.
The Van Sant & Musser Transportation Company built a large
rafter here early in 1886; it was called Musser and was 137 feet
long. The Diamond Jo Company built the upper part and tiie
Iowa Iron Works tlie iron and steel part. At this date the princi-
pal river business was the towing of log and lumber rafts; the usual
size of the rafts was about five hundred feet long and two hundred
and fifty feet wide ; Thomas Dolson was captain. Joseph Reynolds
was president and general manager and E. M. Dickey superinten-
dent of the Diamond Jo Line; tliis line built a barge with a double
steel hull in 1886. The sudden movement of all the ice in the river
about March 18, 1886, was witnessed by thousands of persons.
At this date there were about eighty steamers engaged in the upper
Mississippi trade, exclusive of the Diamond Jo and "Saints" lines.
The following boats were owned at Dubuque : Helen Mar, Louis-
ville, Menominee and B. E. Linehan, by Knapp. Stout & Co. ; A.
Railing, by the Standard Lumber Company ; Nellie, by Specht
Bros. : Jim Watson, by Hamsen & Linehan. Forty-eight business


firms along the river owned the above eighty boats. Previous to
the spring of 1886 the Iowa Iron Works had confined its boat
work principally to iron hulls, but at that date it established a gen-
eral shipbuilding department.

The Campbell was the transfer packet in 1887; it was in opera-
tion in March. In August, 1887, J- K. Graves was president of
the boat club. In January, 1888, the Upper Mississippi River Con-
vention assembled here and took strong action in favor of large
river improvements; the visitors were banqueted at the Lorimier
House. Owing to tlie construction of light draft boats rafting was
continued all summer in 1888, regardless of low water.

The Linehan Transportation Company brought its large steamer
here for repairs; its capacity was twenty cars and was bought in
the South. The Linehan Ferry Company was active in 1888.
The Dubuque Boating Association owned five boats this year ; sev-
eral regattas were held; Captain Hobbs was usually the referee.
In January, 1889, the St. Louis, St. Paul & Minneapolis Packet
Company was organized.


Ezra Chace, J. H. Laycock, A. M. Short, J. A. Wooders, Orrin
Smith, Vol. Bigelow, Gary Denberg, Derwin Dorrance. S. B.
Winthrop, Thomas Peel, William McCaffrey, O. J. Newcomb, Asa
Woodward, J. M. Newcomb, Joseph Buisson, C. Buisson, W. S.
Mitchell, A. Roque, Thomas Dofson, Al. Hollingshead, James
Follmer, George Carpenter, H. B. Bresee, Dan Davisson, James
Hugunin, George Reed, Phil. Shackel, James Coleman, C. C. Car-
penter, C. B. Romahn. John Hugunin, J. G. Moore, John Hoy,
John Lancaster, R. H. Tromley, Henry Fuller, L. A. Day, M. M.
Loonev, Joseph Young, I. H. Wasson, William Davis, William
York, b. F. Dorrance, J. M. Turner, A. P. Lambert, J. W. Rambo,
W. A. Kratka, E. D. Dixon, J. N. Long, Henry Walker, N. B.
Lucas, R. M. Cassidy, R. S. Owens, William Dobler, William
Anderlee, W. R. Slocum, John O'Connor, J. H. Short, George
Tromley, Jr., Charles White, W. H. Whistler, Henry Slocum,
Walter Blair, Ira Fuller, George Rutherford, Thomas Hoy, Joseph
Dooley, J. H. Milliron. John Monroe, Robert Dodds, Cyrus King,
George Brasser, Paul Kerz. The rafters Clyde, Jennie Hays, St.
Croix and Nellie were owned at Dubuque.

By 1890 Dubuque had become a great center for the construc-
tion of steel hulls. The Ferdinand Herold, which was launched
late in July, 1890, was the twenty-second iron and steel craft sent
out by the Iowa Iron Works; the Clvde was the first, in 1870. In
July, 1890, the office of the United States steamboat inspector was
removed to Dubuque.

Early in 189 1 the Laclede Packet Company was organized at
Burlington. C. H. Pitsch was manager of the St. Louis, St. Paul


& Minneapolis Packet Company at tliis time ; its packets were few ;
its most active boats were rafters. Diamond Jo Reynolds died at
Prescott, Arizona, early in 1891 ; his fortune was estimated at from
one million dollars to twenty million dollars. He was the owner
of the Diamond Jo Line and was interested in inmiense deals else-
where. Scores of stories were current as to his diamonds, and one
reporter placed in the newspaper an immense diamond in his shirt
front ; none of these stories were true. He had adopted the mark
which was placed on all shipments handled by him; and his name
Joseph was the origin of the name Diamond Jo.

In 1891 the Iowa Iron Works built for the government the tor-
pedo boat Dubuque at a cost of $113,500; it was 150 feet long, 14
wide and 6 high; it was modeled after the Gushing. The contract
provided that if the boat could make more than twenty-eight knots
per hour the contractors were to receive a bonus of fifty-six thou-
sand dollars. The snag-boat James B. McPherson was built by
this company in 1891 ; it was 175 feet long and one of the finest
vessels ever constructed here. It was launched on August 8,
Senator Allison being present and speaking. William Hopkins
superintended the construction.

In January, 1892, the Diamond Jo Line of steamers was granted
the right to occupy and use a certain part of the public levee and
to erect and maintain thereon a warehouse and office. This ordi-
nance was vetoed by the Mayor and was passed over his veto. The
Mayor's veto was based upon the opinion that the city did not
receive for this franchise just compensation.

The Pilots' Transportation Company endeavored to do river
business in 1892 on credit and failed. Many citizens in 1892
wanted the government to deed to the city the bed of Lake Peosta.
In 1893 General Booth's new sand pump barge was christened
Mound Builder by Miss Fannie Cozech ; it was built by the Iowa
Iron Works and was 112 feet long. In 1893 the torpedo boat
Ericsson was built here. At this date the Diamond Jo officers were
E. M. Dickey, president ; John Killeen, vice-president ; F. A. Bill,
secretary and treasurer. The largest raft of lumber that ever
passed down the river in barges was towed by the steamer Dolphin
in April, 1893; there were seven barges, containing 2,270,000 feet
of lumber, 760,000 lath, and to this was added here the hull of the
old steamer Osborne and 200,000 feet more of lumber. It passed
down at the rate of about seven miles an hour.

The St. Louis, St. Paul and Minneapolis Packet Company had
several boats here early in the nineties; their boat St. Paul passed to
the Diamond Jo Gomi)any. The Windom (revenue cutter) was
being built here in 1893-94.

In spite of all, the old river men could not help noticing the great
decadence in river traffic from thirty and forty years before. Short-
run packets were resorted to in 1893-94 to meet new conditions.


The cut of 30 per cent in railroad freiglit rates was a severe blow
to river men, but the Diamond Jo Company seemed to do well.
Small draft and short line boats were greatly in evidence; St. Paul,
Pittsburg, Sidney, Mary Morton and Gem City were their boats.

The Ericsson torpedo boat was launched here by the Iowa Iron
Works in May, 1894; Miss Carrie Kiene christened the vessel;
20,000 people witnessed the launching. This boat went down the
Mississippi and saw service in the Spanish-American war. It was
defective in several important particulars, but in the end did good
service. In August, 1894, the river here was the lowest in thirteen
years. In December of this year the Upper Mississippi Pilots' Asso-
ciation assembled here. Early in 1895 three new torpedo boats were
called for; the Iowa State Iron Works bid for each $137,000, but
others were a little lower. In April, 1895, the Windom torpedo
boat was nearly ready here. Jay Morton was president of the Dia-
mond Jo Line. The new steamer Dubuque arrived from St. Louis
in April, 1897. By 1898 the Iowa Iron Works had built or partly
built over one hundred boats. In 1898 this company launched two
large iron hulls in the ice harbor. One was a transfer boat, 303 feet
long, and was No. 43 of its class built here ; seven other boats were
under construction at the time. About this time the Iowa Iron
Works pay roll was about $11,000 per month; in fourteen months
ending June, 1899, that company paid out over $400,000 for labor
and material; it had about 230 men on the pay roll. The Acme
Packet Company ran packets and other boats about this time. Capt.
Thomas Parker and his six sons, all river men, were known to
everybody. Captain Winans and Captain Streckfus ran boats of
their own. The Dubuque Boat and Boiler Company began business
about 1906-07; it built two dredge boats in 1907. Early in 1907
it began on the giant transfer boat Albatros, and in June it sailed
down to Vicksburg. Other boats have been built recently, among
them the B. F. Yocum, now being finished. Capt. Steve Dolson, a
well-known river man, died in 1909. The river business is not what
it used to be.


TO AN early citizen of Dubuque, Jolui Plumbe, Jr., is given tlie
credit of taking the first steps to build a railroad from Lake
Michigan to the Mississippi and on to the Pacific ocean. As
early as 1836 he commenced the preliminaries for the con-
struction of such a line. Two years later he drew up a petition for the
establishment of this line, which was numerously signed and for-
warded to Congress bearing the date April, 1838. It began as fol-
lows : "The connection of Lake Michigan with the Mississippi river,
at or near the Borough of Dubuque, by means of a railroad to be
located upon the most eligible ground within the territory is a sub-
ject of such importance, etc. * * * The entire length of the Lake
Michigan and Dubuque railroad would be only about one hundred
and fifty miles * * * Within little more than eight months of last
year (1837) the total number of steamboat arrivals and departures
at the port of Dubuque amounted to no less than 717." General
Jones, who was then in Congress, secured an appropriation to defray
the expense of locating the first division of the road. It should be
said that in 1849 Mr. Plumbe, at his own expense, discovered and
inspected a practical route through the South Pass for a railroad
to the Pacific coast, being the to accomplish this task. — {Times,
July 10, 1857.) Asa Whitney was one of the foremost in the
struggle for a Pacific railroad.

It is true that Mr. Plumbe not only projected the line, prepared
the petition and secured the Congressional appropriation, but in
person and at his own cost began the inspection, if not the survey,
of the line from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi. He did not
relinquish his efiforts, and in 1847 proposed a grant of land from
the government to aid the project; the proposal contained the fol-
lowing points : (i ) The grant to consist of alternate sections of
land; (2) the stock to be $10 a share; (3) at the time of subscrip-
tion 50 cents to be paid on each share; (4) the railroad to be man-
aged by a board of directors; (5) the government to enjoy forever
the free use of the road; (6) editors, ministers, missionaries, etc.,
to ride free.

The citizens of Dubuque, in 1S38-9, warmly favored this pro-
posed Lake Michigan and Mississippi railroad, which was projected
westward from Milwaukee, presumably to the Mississippi at Du-
buque. A bill for a survey of this road was defeated in the Iowa
Territorial Legislature on' the ground that it was outside of the















territory. It was further presented that such a road should not he
designed for Dubuque county alone, but for the whole territory ;
and as Dubuque county and town were the only parts to be benefited
the bill should not pass.

By act of December 7, 1836, the Belmont & Dubuque Railroad
Company was incorporated and two of the commissioners were
John Foley and Francis K. O'Ferrall, of Dubuque county. In
February, 1837, books for subscriptions to the stock of this road
were opened in this city. The subscriptions were under the man-
agement of the commissions appointed by the act. During the
latter part of 1838 the route between Milwaukee and Dubuque was
surveyed. At this date also a survey was made of the Chicago &
Galena Railroad.

Milwaukee was anxious to secure the railway westward to Du-
buque for the double purpose of keeping Chicago out of northern
and central Iowa and of winning that promising field for herself.
Chicago had the same double end in view. In the end Chicago
won by building *.he Chicago & Galena Union Railway. Numer-
ous other lines connecting the lake and the Mississippi were pro-
posed during the early forties ; one was to connect Madison, Wis-
consin, with the Mississippi at Dubuque. In October, 1847, at a
big railway mass meeting here Gen. James Wilson spoke at length
favoring the proposed connection of Milwaukee and Dubuque by
rail. On May 20, 1848, a large railroad convention was held
here, Theophilus Crawford serving as chairman. Resolutions favor-
ing the railroads and the subscription of stock were passed.

What was called the "Railroad Committee of Dubuque County"
was organized early in 1848 by the election of Peter A. Lorimier,
Mayor, president, and Patrick Quigley secretary. The committee
announced itself ready to receive reports from the several commit-
tees appointed in accordance with the resolutions of the railroad
convention held at Iowa City January 17, 1848.

On the State Railroad Committee appointed at the railroad con-
Acntion held in Iowa City in January, 1848, were Peter A. Lori-
mier and Lucius Langworthy, of Dubuque county ; Thomas H.
Benton, Jr., of Dubuque county, served as president of the con-
vention. The people of the State were in earnest regarding rail-
roads. The one now proposed was to extend from Keokuk to

At a large railroad meeting held in Dubuque in March, 1848,
to consider connecting Lake Michigan and the Mississippi, Col. C.
H. Booth served as chairman and W. H. Merritt and A. P. Wood
as .secretaries. The objects of the meeting were explained by
General Jones and L. H. Langworthy. A committee of seven was
appointed to draft resolutions — L. H. Langworthy, G. W. Jones,
Lincoln Clark, W. Y. Lovell, E. Fitzpatrick, Charles Miller and
N. Nadeau. The resolutions warmly favored the construction of


a railroad from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi at Jordan's Ferry,
opposite Dubuque. Steps to prepare a memorial to Congress were
taken. The committee to memorialize Congress were L. H. Lang-
worthy, W. W. Coriell, George W. Jones, Lincoln Clark, \\'. Y.
Lovell, T. S. Wilson and Timotliy Mason.

In 1848-Q Congress passed an act donating alternate sections of
land to the Dubuque & Keokuk Railway ; this was the first Dubuque
county land thus granted. Dubuque was particularly anxious for
rail connection with Lake Michigan, because during the thirties and
forties business men here were at the mercy of St. Louis, there
being no competition. It became known here that combinations to
keep up the prices at up-river points existed at St. Louis, and that
the boat lines were in collusion with St. Louis to extort large reve-
nues from Dubuque and other up-river points. Thus during tlie
late forties numerous railway projects were considered by large
and enthusiastic mass meetings and conventions. In February,
1849, the citizens gathered at the courthouse to listen to a railway
project described by William B. Ogden, of Chicago.

"Will the citizens not try to effect a communication with the
East by means of a railroad and thus have an outlet for their in-
creasing productions? There is nothing to hinder if we will agree.
The Chicago & Dubuque Railroad will afiford the quickest means
of communication witli the East. But we have no time to lose.
Our merchants, men of property and citizens generally, must ex-
hibit a better public spirit before they can accomplish anything.
Let us begin with our harbor. What is its condition? Is it a
place where any sensible man would make it the terminus of a
railroad? We believe Dubuque great, but we must convince otliers
also. We must provide an accessible and commodious lamling.
Keokuk, Burlington, Bloomington, Rock Island and even Bellevue
have done more for a practical landing than Dubuque. To what
is this to be ascribed? I say positkrly to a want of that unanimity
which is so characteristic of us. If the City Council can't make
this improvement out of the islands, or under the power granted
in the present charter, let us have a new one, with power to levy
a certain tax to construct this harbor and to do it when it best suits
with reference to the best interests of all." — (Iowa, in Miners'
Express, December 5, 1849.)

"The whole country — North, South, East, and West — cities,
towns, hamlets, and villages, are crying out 'Railroads! Let us
have railroads!!' This cry is approaching us from all directions,
while here we are in Dubuque as unconcerned as if 'Whiskey Hill*
and 'Dirty Hollow' were ever to be the only thoroughfares from
and to Dubuque. Our neighbors of Galena are making arrange-
ments to go and meet the Chicago road ; Milwaukee and her sister
towns are engaged in a vigorous efifort to connect themselves to
the Mississippi a few miles above us; while here we are asleep in


a kind of dreamy-drowsy-stupid lethargy. We should make im-
mediate provision to unite ourselves to the Chicago and Galena
road at the latter place. The company is under no obligation to
come to Dubuque. When in the future the road is extended to
the Mississippi where is the guaranty that Dubuque will be the
point reached?" — {Miners' Express, December 12, 1849.)

The Miners' Express, in 1850, had so much to say on the subject
of railroads and there were so many rumors and projects afloat
that it established a "Railroad Department." In January, 1850,
the plan was considered to connect Dubuque with the Red River of
the North and to make Dubuque the focus of all lines of the North-
west. Al)out this time a railroad westward from Dubuque pass-
ing through Cascade had been proposed, and at a railroad meeting
in the latter \'illage Bell, Banghart, Langworthy, Eaton and Dillon
delivered addresses. Lovell and Langworthy were agents of the
Dubuque & Keokuk line. In 1850-1 the Chicago & Galena Union
Railway and the Illinois Central Railway were under course of
construction and it was seen here that one or both of them would
eventually reach Dubuque. The people here were asked to take
stock in both roads, but refused unless they would be constructed
to this point.

In August, 1852, Galena prohibited the passage through that city
of the Illinois Central Railway and took this step to prevent that
road from building on to Dubuque, hoping to become the western
terminus of that road and thus the business focus of the North-
west. This step forced tlie Illinois Central to pass around Galena
on its way to Dubuque or Dunleith. At a mass meeting of the
citizens September 22, 1852, the proposition of taking one hundred
thousand dollar stock in the Milwaukee, Janesville & Mississippi
Railroad was considered ; eight thousand dollars was subscribed on
the spot. In a few weeks this city voted in favor of this stock,
only nine votes being polled against it. When it was announced
in June, 1852, that the Chicago & Galena Union Railroad would
be finished to Galena in eighteen months great excitement and
rejoicing ensued. In May, 1853, one hundred and fifty citizens
petitioned the Council to take one hundred thousand dollars stock
in the Dubuque & Pacific Railway. The Miners' Express opposed
the loan, but not violently. The question was submitted to the
voters and carried by 466 to 79. The vote in the whole county
on two hundred thousand dollars subscription was 954 for and
717 again. New Wine, Concord, Jefi^erson, Peru, Iowa, Mosalem,
White Water, Liberty. Prairie Creek. Cascade and Dodge town-
ships returned majorities against the subscription. The over-
whelming vote in Julien township in favor of the project. 666 for
to 160 against, carried the question. Work on the road was soon
commenced. Colonel Mason was chief engineer here, J. P. Farley
was president, F. S. Jesup treasurer and Piatt Smith attorney. In


the summer of 1853 Dunleith (now East Dubuque) was laid out,
as the Illinois Central was fast approaching. The Milwaukee road,
though voted stock, was not built. By Stepember, 1854, cars began
to run from Galena to Chicago, the fare being $5.25 ; the fare from
Dubuque was $6.25

"To the President and Directors of the Dubuque & Pacific Rail-
road : Perceiving that some of our citizens think so much of our
useless island and seem disposed to want a much larger price for it
than it is worth, I will offer you free of charge twenty acres of
land for your depot grounds and a sufficient quantity of it shall be
on the river to accommodate the business of your road. The land
is situated at my furnace, where the largest class of steamboats can
land at all stages of water, and a part of said land is within the
present city limits. Hoping you will give this your favorable
consideration, Yours respectfully, P. A. Lorimier, December i,
1853." This ofifer seemed to bring the citizens to their senses.

In October, 1853, President Nelson Dewey, of the Southern
Wisconsin road, came here and asked the Council to aid his line
with fifty thousand dollars. On this question the Council voted
as follows : For the grant — Burt, Heeb and Langworthy ; against
tlie grant — Samuels, McNamara, Wilde and O'Hare.

On the question to grant ten acres of land to the Dubuque &
Pacific road for depot purposes the vote stood in 1854: For, 677,
and against, 285. In September, 1855, the city voted on taking
an additional one hundred thousand dollars stock in the Dubuque &
Pacific road — for, i.oii ; against, 109. In January, 1855, the city
voted as follows on the question of taking one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars stock in the Mississippi & Milwaukee road : For,
574; against, 135. This was the same road, with name changed,
that stock had been voted for in 1853. At this time many objected
to any stock subscription to the last-named road, declaring that the
outlet to Chicago was sufficient and that Dubuque should now help
build the roads leading westward in order to open new fields to

"The city has already pledged its credit for one hundred thousand
dollars to the -Southern Wisconsin road ; one hundred thousand to
the Dubuque & Pacific road. Individuals in the city are pledged
to the latter for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The
county is pledged to tlie same for two hundred tliousand dollars,
and the bonds of the city are already in the market for thirty thou-
sand dollars. This makes five hundred and eighty thousand dol-
lars. Add to this one hundred and fifty thousand dollars voted on
the 2d inst. and we have the handsome little sum of seven hundred
and fifty thousand dollars. Truly, we are a progressive people." —
{Express and Herald, January 4, 1855.)

In July, 1855, R. B. Mason & Co. contracted to build thirty
miles of the Dubuque & Pacific road ne.xt to Dubuque. On June


II, 1855, a party of about twenty ladies and gentlemen of Dubuque
was carried from Dunleith to Galena on the construction train.
This was a special arrangement and may be said to have been the
first passengers to go over that part of the road; seats were placed
on the gravel cars and the run was made in about forty minutes.

"A train of passenger cars arrived on Saturday night (June 9,
1855) about twelve o'clock at Dunleith. This is the first train
through and it ushers in a new era for the prosperity, business,
wealth and growth of Dubuque and the adjacent country." —
{Express and Herald, June 13, 1855.)

On the question of granting tlie north half of Middle Island to

Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 27 of 56)