Page 10 - Ellsworth Railway in This New Century


The 2000 Census reported that Ellsworth's population was 531.

The railroad tracks from Jewell through Ellsworth were removed in 2006
according to Union Pacific's master plan.

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(Click image for a different view of this railroad bridge.)

The railroad bridge at the east end of Jewell allows the railroad to cross 
the dredge ditch coming from the north.  This image may be from the 1940s.

(four photos courtesy of Hank Zaletel)

This 2000 image shows the railway between Jewell and Ellsworth, along Highway 175.

From UNION PACIFIC - There was a decision to abandon the Ellsworth Industrial Lead, a 3.2-mile line of railroad, between milepost 0.0, near Jewell, and milepost 3.2, at Ellsworth in Hamilton County, Iowa, to be effective on April 28, 2006.  (STB Docket No. AB-33 (Sub-No. 175X), decided March 17, served March 29, 2006)

That report meant that the railroad track (both the rails and the ties) were scheduled to be removed from between Jewell and Ellsworth.   And they were, indeed, removed.   The tracks west of Jewell and Stanope and east of Ellsworth and Radcliffe were also removed.  No more east-west tracks.  Only the north-south track survived.

         When you see the photos at the bottom of this page, you will know that portions of that track still exist today.

Crossing the Skunk River bridge - The Ellsworth Elevator is seen.

Skunk River bridge detail

The South Hamilton Record News of June 7, 2006 had the following article as one of many pages telling the history of Jewell.  The article also describes many of the facts that also started the settlement of Callanan and the town of Ellsworth.

The text of this Page 7 is included below the 2006 article.

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(click to enlarge this article) from the Jewell Jubilee/Quasquicentennial - June 7, 2006)


      Part III: The Railroad and Jewell: The earliest railroad effort in the area was in 1874 when a narrow guage rail line (3 feet between the rails) had been completed from Des Moines to Ames.  First known as the Iowa and Minnesota, then the Des Moines and Minnesota, the line me the standard gauged (4' 8.5" between the rails) east-west line in Ames. Under the presidency of James Callanan, a prominent Des Moines banker and real estate agent, the narrow gauge was finally known as the Des Moines and Minneapolis Railroad and was headed for points north.  For any settlement that hoped for access to markets, a railroad became a necessity.  Callanan started his railroad north.

      Early in 1877, an election was held in Lafayette Township of Story County for a five percent tax to pull the Des Moines and Minneapolis to Story City.  By the spring of 1877, the four southeast townships of Hamilton County (Ellsworth, Lincoln, Lyon and Scott) did likewise, but the monies would have been made available only if the railroad had actually been constructed and operated to within a mile of those townships by December 1 of 1878.   Work began on the narrow gauge line toward a point that matched that location; a town was laid out on April 19, 1878 and humbly named Callanan.   But the future of Callanan lay not there, but to two new towns about to make their debut.

      As the railroad building fever reached a frenzy, the companies began to build extensions throughout the state. The railroads wanted to capitalize on the investments, so about every seven miles, a depot would be erected, a siding laid down, and a town would materialize around the new hoped for connection to the outside world.   The railroads also built lines solely to claim an areaa and to discourage incursion by competitors.   The Cedar Rapids and Missouri, now the Chicago and North Western railroad, did just that.   Through a maze of interconnected directorships, new railroad companies came into existence and just as quickly disappeared.   One new line, the Toledo and North Western Company of Tama, proposed building a line north and west of Tama into the yet unconnected Iowa lands toward Sioux City.   On May 22, 1880, the T&NW proposed building a line from Tama City to northwest Iowa and on into Minnesota if the, too, could win tax incentives and real estate bargains along the way.   With remarkable fervor, the T&NW completed an 80.39 mile line from Toledo to Webster City and ran its first passenger train between the two cities on December 6, 1880.   When the line was constructed, it passed west through newly developed Hubbard, Radcliffe, a new Ellsworth, and through David Jewell enticements of land for depots, shops and yards.   This rapid development in from the east brought a stirring of activity in little towns at the end of the narrow gauge.   It was clear the new railroad missed the existing town to the southeast, Callanan.   Big money could await those who rose to take advantage of this new town; John R. and Jane R. King of Callanan came to the area for profit.

      With money from his grain and saloon businesses in Callanan from 1878 until 1881, John R. King and his wife, Jane, brought up what property they believed would be the site of the new town along the Toledo and North Western. With his money, he persuaded the railroad to build the depot on his land south of the tracks, applied for a post office to be in his part of town south of the tracks, and put his lots south of the tracks up for sale.   To make more money, King platted his lots at 22 feet in width and 120 feet in depth.   King's Main Street shrank to 80 feet wide, rather than maintain the 100 foot width in Jewell's town.   From the Jewell family account, there never was any animosity between the Jewells and the Kings.   The Kings made the money, but the name Jewell stuck as the new entity was labeled Jewell's Junction of Jewell Junction.   Once the railroad had arrived and businesses began to build on King's land, the original town began to move to the new Main Street, today''s north-south street through Jewell. David Jewell and his wife were buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Jewell.   King's legacy ramains through a scholarship fund for local students known as the Jane R. King fund.

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     You may notice something in the tall grass at the right (south) side of the depot in Ellsworth.  The grass is hiding a bit of railroad track from the Ellsworth line.  A few years after the depot was hauled to it's new location, the railroad line was removed from between Stanhope, Jewell and Ellsworth, and Radcliffe.  Of course, no more trains would ever again come though Ellsworth, because there were no tracks or depot.

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    When the tracks were removed from the Ellsworth area, the removal crew was asked if they could please save a piece of track to accompany the community Depot instead of "recycling" all of it.   The crew was tired and didn't make any promises, but at the end of their long day, they brought two 35 foot rails and many ties.   They constructed this set of tracks beside the Callanan/Ellsworth Depot, and it remains there today.

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The tracks are placed running east and west, just like the original tracks had run through Ellsworth.  Because the Depot at this location was turned 90 degrees from how it originally had been located, the ticket window no longer faces the tracks as it did when this building was a proper Ellsworth railroad station for one hundred years.

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No trains today!
(or tomorrow either, of course)

How is the Ellsworth Depot used today?
Go to Page 10B

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