Centerville, IA to Alexandria, MO

The Keokuk and Western Railroad

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Map submitted by Dr. R. Zane Price.

Originally chartered in Missouri as the Alexandria and Bloomfield Railroad Company, by Special Act of February 9, 1857, the act called for the building of a railroad from Alexandria, Missouri, in the direction of Bloomfield in the state of Iowa, to the northern boundary of the state of Missouri. A subsequent Act on February 19, 1866, changed the corporate name to the Alexandria and Nebraska City Railroad Company. On March 2, 1869, the Missouri legislature passed a general law authorizing any railroad company in Missouri to consolidate with a railroad company of an adjoining state. The railroad that consolidated with the Alexandria and Nebraska City Railroad was the Iowa Southern Railway, chartered in 1866 and supported by Centerville, Iowa booster Francis Marion Duke. With the combination of the Alexandria and Nebraska City Railroad Company and the Iowa Southern Railway, the Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska Railway Company was created under general laws of Iowa and Missouri, through articles of consolidation dated Mar. 26, 1870. Sections of the railroad were completed as follows.

  • 24.00 miles from Alexandria, MO (Clark County) to Luray, MO (Clark County) [9/11/1871]
  • 60.30 miles from Luray, MO (Clark County) to Centerville, IA (Appanoose County) [12/3/1872]
  • 28.10 miles from Centerville, IA (Appanoose County) to Corydon, IA (Wayne County) [August 1876]
  • 30.25 miles from Corydon, IA (Wayne County) to Van Wert, IA (Decatur County) [1880]

Stations along the line consisted of the following, from east to west:

  • Alexandria, MO (Clark County)
  • Wayland, MO (Clark County)
  • Kahoka, MO (Clark County)
  • Medill, MO (Clark County)
  • Ashton, MO (Clark County)
  • Luray (Lurty), MO (Clark County)
  • Granger, MO (Scotland County)
  • Arbela, MO (Scotland County)
  • Memphis, MO (Scotland County)
  • Crawford, MO (Scotland County)
  • Downing, MO (Schuyler County)
  • Lancaster, MO (Schuyler County)
  • Glenwood Junction, MO (Schuyler County)
  • Guinn, MO (Schuyler County)
  • Dean, IA (Appanoose County)
  • Sedan, IA (Appanoose County)
  • Centerville, IA (Appanoose County)
  • Sunshine, IA (Appanoose County)
  • Brazil, IA (Appanoose County)
  • Garfield, IA (Appanoose County)
  • Plano, IA (Appanoose County)
  • Promise City, IA (Wayne County)
  • Bridgeport, IA (Wayne County)
  • Hamm, IA (Wayne County)
  • Corydon, IA (Wayne County)
  • Bentonsville, IA (Wayne County)
  • Cambria, IA (Wayne County)
  • Humeston, IA (Wayne County)
  • LeRoy, IA (Decatur County)
  • Verdi, IA (Decatur County)
  • Weldon, IA (Decatur County)
  • Van Wert, IA (Decatur County)

Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway Company went into receivership on July 1, 1885 and was sold at foreclosure on August 19, 1886. After the sale, the line became the Keokuk and Western Railroad. On January 1, 1901, the line was bought by the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy and was combined with the Humeston and Shenandoah Railroad to corm a line stretching form Keokuk, Iowa to Shenandoah, Iowa.

At its height in the 1910s, Centerville, Iowa was a division point (where trains originate) for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad and employed approximately 100 people. Centerville had a roundhouse with 11 stalls where steam locomotives were housed and the yards served the daily freight that originated in Centerville. The roundhouse and yards were located off 21st Street and north of Cottage Street. A brick depot on the Centerville Levee, built in 1911, it was 25 feet tall with a total square footage of 3,078 feet. The depot also had offices for the division superintendent, train master, road master, clerk, and other personnel. Additional features of the depot included: two waiting rooms (one for men and the other for women), a baggage room, and ticket office. The depot served the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy until the tracks were removed in the early 1980s. Prior to this depot, the previous depot was across the track on the east side of 18th Street and after the completion of the new depot became the freight depot and was torn down in the early 1960s. A September 1912 timetable listed four passenger trains coming to Centerville from Keokuk.

Centerville continued to serve as a division point for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad until the mid-1950s. At that time, the roundhouse was eliminated and the yard was reduced in size. In addition, the line became a part of the Hannibal, Mo., division and all of the division offices were relocated to Hannibal. However, a section crew consisting of three men located in Centerville after the loss of the division point.

On March 22, 1958, the last passenger train arrived in Humeston with over 400 passengers aboard for the final ride. After the ending of passenger trains, the only passenger service was a passenger car with a baggage area attached to the end of a freight train. The first section of the rails to be abandoned was west from Centerville to Corydon in 1958. In the early 1970s, the line from Corydon to Humeston was completely abandoned with the tracks removed in 1981. The final section of the railroad, Centerville, IA to Alexandria, MO was abandoned in 1982.

A rough timeline of the route:

              Iowa                        |     Missouri
      Humeston    Corydon    Centerville     Luray    Alexandria
===================================================================
1871                                             |-- Built --|
1872                               |--- Built ---|-----------|
1876                   |-- Built --|-------------------------|
1880    |--- Built ----|-------------------------------------|
1958    |--------------|...........|-------------------------|
1975    |..............|           |-------------------------|
1982                               |.........................|

Thanks to Dr. R. Zane Price for contributing information about this route.

The BN abandoned this line in 1982, although I think the tracks were in place for another year or so. Stations in MO included Wayland, Clark City, Kahoka, Medill (junction w/ ATSF), Ashton, Luray, Granger, Memphis, Downing, and Lancaster. To my knowledge, the only depots still extant are in Memphis and Downing, although both have been moved from the ROW.

Aaron
St. Louis, MO
11/20/2012

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K & W aka CB&Q depot still stands in Centerville, Iowa.

Robert
Centerville, Iowa, originally, PA
9/10/2013

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found some old pictures . pictures are inscribed NEMO Switch Yards October 22 1922 . Guy that took and kept the pictures was a telegraph ( license 1922 - 26 )operater . We wondered if this was our railroad ?

Tim Veach
Ottumwa Iowa, IA
5/24/2014

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