Home » Uncategorized » Not all roundhouses are—round, that is.

Not all roundhouses are—round, that is.

This and other maps of the Milwaukee Road system make clear that 1881 was the earliest date a line could have reached Agincourt.

MilwRoadMap

The line from Herndon pushed northward toward Fonda that year, but it didn’t connect at Spencer until eighteen years later. We can infer a couple of things: 1) that the line was built new, rather than purchased from another or a subsidiary company; and 2) that construction would have proceeded northward from the main east-west line. Among other things, that implies anyone wanting to travel by rail to or from Agincourt would have had to go by wagon or stagecoach from either Fonda or the other east-west line passing through Spencer. Perhaps it’s time for me to read a history of the C.M.St.P. & P.

Dakota Territory in the 80s and 90s generated such a web of railroad speculation it’s tempting to project that frenzy onto northwestern Iowa. The much later—1909—interurban projected westward from Fort Dodge toward Storm Lake and intimately to either Sioux city or Omaha must have had its parallels a generation earlier. Farmers needed outlets for their crops; the general populace craved the luxuries of larger cities. What were the mechanisms for pre-1881 connections?

Just a hint of railroad construction would have set forces in motion. The Chamber of Commerce—the town was twenty-four years old and surely had one—would have lobbied for the line to run through the it. And being the end of construction for the winter was a guarantee of further financial benefit; it also may have meant a section point (a minor rail yard, even a roundhouse; certainly a water tower). Is this too much aspiration?

Round House Inside

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