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The line over which we operate got its start in Fraser, Iowa in 1893. Fraser had just become the center of newly-discovered coal deposits, and transportation was needed to move the coal. A line was constructed west out of Fraser, where it connected with the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway at what is now called Wolf.
Railroads were expanding rapidly in those days, and the line from Fraser was soon extended, reaching Gowrie and Rockwell City to the north and west, and Newton and Des Moines to the south and east. The line underwent several name changes, and by 1907, it was known as the Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern. The line was electrified (a power plant was constructed at Fraser, providing electric service to the line), and passenger service utilizing interurban cars got underway.
At its peak, the interurbans operated on an hourly basis. However, as automobiles became more numerous, passenger service was cut back. But, with the increasing number of gypsum mills and tile factories, especially in the Fort Dodge area, the freight business on the line continued to thrive.
In 1954, electric service on the line was dealt a hefty blow when severe flooding ravaged the Des Moines River Valley, and floodwaters inundated the Fraser power plant. The interurban cars made their last trips in August of 1955. Electric lines were removed, and newly-purchased diesel engines handled the freight business.
In 1968, the entire line was purchased by the Chicago and North Western Railway. Shortly after the purchase, service on sections of the line was discontinued. However, a handful of grain elevators and shippers continued to receive service until 1983.
When the Chicago and North Western announced its intention to end service to (and scrap) the entire line, a group known as the "Boone Railroad Historical Society" was formed. 2,254 charter members pulled together, and secured the funding necessary to purchase the 11.3 miles of the line which makes up our railroad today. The first trip handling passengers was made in November of 1983. Tickets for a ride out onto the high bridge were sold out of a tent.
If you are riding one of our Wolf trains, the trip continues...