Historic Railroad Map of the Midwest - 1857

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Map of the Iowa Central Air Line Rail Road and its connections.

This map of the north-central United States was published in 1857 by G.W. & C.B. Colton & Co. It features portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. Displayed are counties, cities, towns, waterways, and the railroad and steamboat network of the 1850's. The inset map at the bottom provides a broad look at the northern United States.

Air Line railroads were the talk of the day in the 1850's. In the days before air travel, Air Line was a popular railroad reference to a straight-line, or bee-line between two destinations. The Iowa Central Air Line Railroad was a much talked about and little realized railroad that was organized in 1853. The line was set up to be paid for by bonds that were purchased by Iowa residents hoping for better east west transportation through the state. It was planned to run all the way to Council Bluffs. It was envisioned that it would start from the Mississippi River near Sabula and operate west along the forty-second parallel to the Missouri River where it was supposed to continue all the way to California using the southern route. The line was completed from Lyon to just north of Iowa City when construction ceased due to a great deal of misappropriation of funds by company officers. The stop-work order left stock holders and unpaid workers irate. Many were paid off using calico from the company store at Lyon. This gave the railroad the nickname “Calico Railroad”. The company land grants were received by the Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad after the Iowa Central let them expire in 1859. The Iowa Central Air Line Railroad left a bad impression on Iowans for sometime afterwards.

This map was published in the year before Minnesota was made the thirty-second state with St. Paul as its capital. St. Paul grew quickly with increased manufacturing and transportation opportunities and valuable railroad facilities.


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Archive Paper

Premium fine art paper that provides accurate color reproduction with high-contrast, high-resolution print output and maximum image permanence. A high-quality print ready for framing.

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