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Waterloo’s Railroad Development

The Railroad Comes to Iowa

First Locomotive Illinois Central 1861

Most of Iowa’s pioneer settlers came from states in the East. Others came across the ocean on ships from countries in Europe. They arrived at Ellis Island in New York City before being allowed to enter the country. They came by wagon, stagecoach, steamboat, or train. Some even walked part of the way. Iowa’s new settlers often traveled using more than one of these means of transportation.

Some people think change came slowly in pioneer days. It is certainly true that covered wagons and buggies moved much more slowly than cars and airplanes. But in many respects, changes came very quickly in pioneer days.

For example, between 1833 and 1870, over one million pioneer settlers moved to Iowa. They cleared the land for farming, built homes and barns, laid out towns, created businesses and spanned the state with railroad track.

By 1870, four railroads had been built in Iowa and by 1895 there were five! The main lines ran from the eastern border to the western border of the state.

Five Major Railroad Lines - Iowa 1895: Milwaukee, Illinois Central, Chicago Northwestern, Rock Island, Burlington

Before Iowa railroads construction


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