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NITC (2.4)

Nothing says “end of the line” quite like this station at Third and Jones streets in Sioux City, Iowa.

Many words have been spent here on the subject of infrastructure, especially of the interurban and trolley variety. For the classic treatment of interurbans in America, consult the volume by George Hilton, but it’s gonna cost you.

What may not be widely known is that the third elevated railway in urban America, after New York City and Chicago, was in Sioux City, Iowa. An idea born in 1888, it ran neither very far nor very long. But I wonder if its incongruity may not have inspired Agincourt’s N.I.T.C. enterprise begun in 1909 (but conceived a couple years earlier, I suspect).

Beginning in Fort Dodge (or ending there, depending on your point of view), the Northwest Iowa Traction Co. went to and through Agincourt but never achieved a connection with the Missouri River valley. Whether money or enthusiasm ran out isn’t recorded. Either Council Bluffs or Sioux City would have been logical targets — I never quite decided, myself — but the trackage of the Sioux City Transportation Co. would have been a lure to head northwest, rather than west. An article about the company is unclear how long it operated or how long the elevated trackage remained. If it was long enough for the NITC promoters to obtain the use of its right-of-way, I suddenly have inspiration to get back to work on that piece of community history.

 The scale of interurban cars can be intimidating, somewhere between passenger rail and a streetcar or trolley.This two-car Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Railway train is stopped at Ames, a heavily-used station due to the State College traffic. I suspect ridership on the N.I.T.C. might have been substantially less and required only single cars.

The challenge at the moment is to create a schedule or stops, mileage and estimated time between them. Which means tweaking Iowa geography just a little than we already have — to squeeze the state’s one-hundredth county between at least four others. A typical schedule would have looked something like this:

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