The Forgotten Railways of Clarinda, Iowa
As I discussed previously with the fate of Anthony, Kansas, there exists other towns in the United States that have been completely separated from the US rail network after having several lines pass through their town, as the railroad network across the United States, and the world, has been rationalized and consolidated over time, leaving us with an incredible amount of data to map.
With that in mind, we come to Clarinda, Iowa, county seat of Page County, who was host to five different railroad lines in the city, with at most four running through the town at any given time. Between 1872 and 1911, these lines were built, and in one case, abandoned shortly thereafter.
Today, Clarinda is a case of a county seat that no longer has rail service.
The Brownville & Nodaway Valley Railway
In 1872, the first railway in Clarinda was built north to Villisca, IA as the Brownville & Nodaway Valley Railway to connect Clarinda with the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad at that location. Two years later, it was leased in perpetuity to the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and the line became the Clarinda Branch. In 1879, this line would be extended south into Missouri. This same line would end service in 1960, before the CB&Q became part of the Burlington Northern Railroad.
|CB&Q 1223 at Clarinda, IA 1937. RRPictureArchives.net photo, contributed by Chuck Zeller. Print marked " Griffith photo from Earl Copeland, 10-45", Louis Zadnichek collection.
The Clarinda & St. Louis Railway:
A very short lived line was the Clarinda & St Louis Railway, which mostly paralleled the Chicago Burlington & Quincy line between Clarinda and Roseville, MO, about 26.5 miles south, just east of Burlington Junction. Completed in 1879, it was pretty clear that it was probably an unnecessary redundancy of the CB&Q service.
"Although Clarinda was on a branch of the Burlington, the town wanted another railroad. In the late 1870’s it had hoped the Wabash’s line to Council Bluffs would pass through Clarinda. Instead, the Wabash veered to the west through Shenandoah whereupon the citizens of Clarinda helped finance the old Clarinda & St. Louis Railway, which was built from Roseberry, Missouri, under Wabash auspices. But after a decade of checkered existence the track was taken up in 1890." (Donovan, 1964)
In those days, railroad companies were much smaller than they are today. To illustrate this fact, the Interstate Commerce Commission first listed Class I railroads in the 1910's, counting over 110 at the beginning. Just seven exist today, and that may change to six with the proposed Canadian National/Kansas City Southern merger. This is all to say that competition was much more rampant between railroads in those days, and the Burlington route had a near monopoly in the region, which is why Clarinda was so keen on having a Wabash connection, and helping to finance another railroad in the region, even after the failure of the Clarinda & St. Louis.
The next line would have an even shorter run, however.
The Iowa & Southwestern Railroad
|From Hard Luck Town: College Springs, Iowa.
|Clarinda Depot, 1912, under CB&Q ownership of the Keokuk & Western.
I think College Springs' real mistake was not insisting the railway be named the Clarinda Braddyville & Southwestern in the hopes that this would've enticed the Burlington to build it through College Springs instead.
|Map of Clarinda's Abandoned Rail Lines. This actually comes from Iowa DOT, not my own data.
|Clarinda, IA Burlington Freight Depot. Image: Tom McLaughlin via Flickr
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Donovan, Frank P. "The Wabash Today." The Palimpsest 45 (1964), 392-400. Available at: https://ir.uiowa.edu/palimpsest/vol45/iss10/6
O'Dell, P. (n.d.). Unknown Burials in Page County, Iowa.