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The Northwest Iowa Traction Company formed as an interurban railway to connect Fort Dodge with Agincourt, Storm Lake and some western terminus like Sioux City or Council Bluffs. Construction began in 1909 and reached beyond Agincourt before financial problems halted any further progress. Part of the challenge for this project is finding source material that “confirms” what appears in the story line—no easy job. So we imitate the style of an actual history of interurban railways in the U.S. and fabricate an entry in similar style for NITC.

The classic from 1960 on this subject—The Electric Interurban Railways in America by George W. Hilton and John F. Due—has this to say about the NITC:


When the Milwaukee Road threatened reduction of passenger service on it’s Agincourt branch in late 1908, the Northwest Iowa Traction Co. quickly incorporated and projected an ambitious route from Fort Dodge to Sioux City, a distance of 131 miles that would link the city with the largest regional rail hubs. Building westward from Fort Dodge, the line reached Agincourt by fall and Storm Lake the following spring. Hourly service began in November 1909. When right-of-way beyond Cherokee proved too costly, the extension to Sioux City never materialized.

A syndicate of Agincourt investors held more than fifty percent of company stock, and several of its board also served as directors of the local electric utility, the line’s major power source. NITC operated on city streets in Agincourt to reach the station-headquarters at Broad Street and First Avenue South (later Louisa Avenue). The company also operated a commercial hotel and restaurant adjacent to the station. A short branch seasonally served the Fennimore County Fair and Chatauqua Grounds northwest of the city; another, the resort communities at lakes Sturm and Drang.

Connection with the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Railway at Fort Dodge provided transfer service to the capital and other points in central Iowa, including the Iowa State College at Ames. NITC sometimes used combination cars to carry passengers and freight, a profitable sideline during the 1920s. Passenger traffic stabilized during the Depression and improved somewhat through World War II. Operations ceased in 1948; the seventy-six-mile right-of-way was abandoned and the rolling stock sold to the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern, which itself survived only six more years.

Russell Olson’s The Electric Railways of Minnesota (1976) is also a good source for track diagrams [which I’ll post here as soon as I draught one].

The folks in the photo above don’t look any too happy, do they.

1 Comment

  1. […] finest and still most reliable source on interurban history, generally and company-by-company, is The Electric Interurban Railways of America by Messrs Hilton & Due (possibly still in print, but my copy is old and dogeared, if you want […]

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