Marshalltown to Gladbrook


GOOGLE MAPS no longer available: With apologies, I am unable to continue showing Google Maps. Google has forced my hand by increasing their map usage fee from nothing/free to OVER $300 A MONTH for the Abandoned Rails website! This is an expense that I simply cannot afford. Rest assured I am looking at available open source alternatives, so maps should be back online soon!

Greg Harrison

Showing of

This is the abandoned Roundhouse at Marshalltown, IA, formerly operated by the M&StL. The original roundhouse was destroyed in 1911; a new one was built immediately after, with a new 75-foot turntable. Photo by Jeremy Harris.

This abandoned railway line was built by the Chicago Great Western railroad. It was abandoned in the 1980s.

At the southwest end of the line, Marshalltown, IA, first saw rail service when the Eldora Railroad and Coal Company came through town on its way to a connection with the Chicago and North Western at Omaha. However, by its completion in 1870, the railroad had been renamed to the Central Railroad Company of Iowa, which eventually became the Iowa Central. Though operated as a single company by the 1900s, both the Iowa Central and the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad merged in 1912; it is the marks of the M&StL that remain in town.

It is nice to have an article about these lines. Also the pictures while there is enough evidence there to envision what once was before more traces of the past vanish!!



The M&StL line went through Steamboat Rock, Eldora, Gifford, Union, Liscomb, Albion and Marshalltown.

You are correct -- There was a diamond right about where you indicated. The C&NW went more or less east-west through Marshalltown. The CGW was north of the C&NW, the M&StL south. Both lines crossed the C&NW and each other near the M&StL freight house. From there the CGW went along the south side of the C&NW for some distance while the M&StL angled northwest out of town.

The Eldora Railroad & Coal Co. built first from their coal mines north to Ackley and a connection with what became the Illinois Central. Later, feeling they were not getting a fair deal from the IC the Eldora Railroad & Coal Co. built south to Marshalltown to connect with the C&NW predecessor there.

Later the successors to the Eldora Railroad & Coal Co. (which eventually became the Iowa Central) built a large car shop, roundhouse, blacksmith shop, paint shop and related facilities on land donated by the city of Marshalltown. The railroad had to maintain a shop there for 75 years (as I recall) or the land would go back to the city.

Gene Green
El Paso, TX


This could be written better as there is some confusion and assumptions. The Eldora Railroad and Coal Co did build to Marshalltown, where it connected with the predecessor of the CNW (the Eldora road did not connect at or head to Omaha). It was the CNW that was headed toward Omaha. The IaC was purchased by Ed Hawley, owner of the M&StL, in 1900. He merged the two roads in 1912, Hawley died in 1913, his dream died with him.

The only possible connection of the CGW's Marshalltown to Gladbrook line and the IaC/MSTL occurred after AB Stickney took control of the Central Iowa Railway in 1886. He had completed his Minnesota & Northwestern Railroad (predecessor of the CGW) in 1885 and the line from Manly Jct to Lyle MN was leased to the CIR. In 1888 the CIR became the Iowa Central Railway, and Stickney became president. There was a talk of merging the CIR and Stickney's M&NR. You will find a map on pg 77 of Hofsommer's "Hook & Eye: History of the Iowa Central Railway" showing both roads, including the Marshalltown to Gladbrook line. It appears these agreements all came to an end in 1890/1.

As to the photos: the roundhouse no longer stands, though the tracks are still visible. The building shown in the background is an Iowa Central shops building, later used by the M&StL and CNW as diesel shops.

The former M&StL freight house is now part of a Lumberyard complex and is used for storing insulation and other building supplies.

I don't believe there was ever a diamond at the west end. I think it was a series of switches as the M&StL crossed over both the CNW and CGW at the west end of the yard on it's way out of town.

There was a diamond at the east end on the CGW tracks where they cross the CNW line going up to the Swift plant. The CGW had a connection to the Swift line and

Doug Harding

Douglas Harding
Sibley, IA


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Do you have any pictures or information about Marshalltown to Gladbrook? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.