Knox County Highways and Railroads

In the fifties Edina was a growing town with a number of drygoods stores and business enterprises. Among the stores were those of John Winterbottom, James Daugherty, James Cody and Bryant & Connelly. They carried fairly good stocks of goods, which were hauled from Quincy by wagon. This required a man with a good team some three days' time when the weather was fair. Many men followed teaming "to the river." A good pair of horses was required, fifty cents per hundred was paid. Two thousand pounds of pork were generally taken down, the hauling of which realized to the teamster about $10. About that weight of goods was brought back. In fair weather the teamster usually camped out. When it was bad weather a hospitable roof was readily found with bountiful board for man and beast. The isolated people were glad to hear local news of the world that could be brought to them by the teamsters.

About 1859 the question of a railroad through the country was agitated. Mass meetings were held and a petition was prepared to present to the county court asking for an appropriation for a survey of a road from Alexandria to Bloomington, which latter was, at that time, the county seat of Macon County, and also for a subscription of $100,000 in its aid. A corporation called the Alexandria & Bloomington Railroad Company had been duly chartered to build this road. On November 8th the county court accordingly made an order for $300 to be appropriated for the survey, and for an election to be held at the various precincts on the first Monday in January, 1860, to determine the will of the voters as to $100,000 subscription being raised. This order was subject to the conditions that the $300 appropriated for survey and $100,000 subscription, if voted, should be expended in Knox County and that the order for appropriation for survey should not take effect until the railroad company should prove that they had sufficient funds to complete the survey through the entire route ; also that the subscription, if voted, should not take effect until the said railroad company could show to the satisfaction of the court that sufficient funds, including the said $100,000, had been subscribed to prepare said roadbed for the iron. The judges were Henry T. Howerton, John Ross and William Beal.

The election resulted in 757 votes for the subscription, and 333 votes against it. It was therefore ordered that said subscription be made in accordance with the order of November 8, 1859.

The line of the Alexandria & Bloomington road was surveyed but no other work was ever done on this road under the name of the Alexandria & Bloomington Railroad, as the Civil War stopped all business.

The legislature of 1865 granted a number of charters to different companies, among which was the Missouri & Mississippi Company. The company was chartered February 20, 1865, with a capital stock of $4,000,000. This stock was divided into shares of $100 each. Its first board of directors were Abner L. Gilstrap, Thomas A. Eagle and Thomas Moody of Macon county; Erastus Sacket, James McCrane and H. Cox of Clark County, and E. V. Wilson, S. M. Wirt and William Plumer of Knox County. Under the charter this board was given full power to survey, mark out, locate and construct a railroad from the town of Macon in the county of Macon, state of Missouri, through the town of Edina in Knox County and thence to or near the northeast corner of said state in the direction of Keokuk in Iowa or Alexandria in Missouri.

Before this time the county seat of Macon County had been removed from Bloomington to the town of Macon. It will thus be seen that Macon was one terminal of the M. & M. Railroad, instead of Bloomington, as in the Bloomington & Alexandria road.

The route of the proposed Missouri & Mississippi Railroad was much the same as the one that had been surveyed by the A. & B. R. R. Co. five years before this time. It will be seen that the Missouri & Mississippi Railroad Company was a local company, as the first board of directors was composed of well-known residents of the counties through which the road was to be built. It thus appears that the people of these counties had the intention of building and operating their own railroad.

The agitation continued and finally on March 5, 1867, the county court made an order for another special election in order to learn the feeling of the voters upon the question of subscription to the Missouri & Mississippi equal to that made to the old Alexandria & Bloomington Railroad. The election resulted 510 to 98 in favor of the bonds.

In accordance with this vote bonds were issued from time to time until the whole amount ($30,000) was consumed.

On May 2, 1870, under same authority as above, 550 shares of stock were subscribed and bonds issued from time to time, but not quite to the full amount. On April 6, 1869, on a proposition by an eastern company, presented by S. M. Wirt, to take and complete the road, furnishing the iron and equipment, the court agreed if this was done in eighteen months or some other reasonable time to subscribe an additional one thousand shares. In June, on motion of James A. Reid, it was ordered that the one thousand shares be taken in the stock of the Missouri & Mississippi road, to be paid in Knox county bonds at par, running twenty years at seven per cent. By a subsequent order fifty thousand dollars was made payable upon the completion of the roadbed ready for the iron, and fifty thousand dollars made payable when the cars were running from Clark City in Clark County to Edina.

P. B. Linville was made trustee to receive and hold the bonds on condition that they were to be paid out only on completion of the road within a prescribed time, viz.: July 4, 1872, afterward extended to January 1, 1873. Mr. Linville gave bond for $200,000 for the faithful performance of this trust. On February 4, 1873, he made his report and the road not being completed the bonds were cancelled and were burned in the presence of the court.

It will be seen that the contract ending by the burning of these bonds was definite. Had the public servants of the county exercised the same care in other issuance of bonds, the county might have been spared needless humiliation and loss; but the conditions for a completed railroad within a certain time did not appear. The total 'amount of bonded indebtedness amounted to an immense sum. After tedious litigation and much expense, the debt was paid and the bonds burned September 26, 1899.

In 1870 the Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Railroad was discussed. The townships through which it was to pass were authorized to hold elections and have bonds issued upon themselves, Fabius, Jeddo, Center, Lyon and Salt River, Jeddo voting $20,000, Center $50,000, and Lyon $5.000; totaling $75,000. The road was completed to Edina April 25, 1872. Until 1882 the road was controlled and operated under the name of. Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Railway Company, headquarters at Quincy. Later it was operated and managed by the Wabash Railroad Company. From 1890 to 1895 it was operated individually as Quincy, Omaha & Kansas City Railway Company, headquarters at Omaha, E. E. Soule, superintendent, J. H. Best, traffic manager. From 1895 to 1898 it was operated as part of Kansas City Southern Railway Company and known as the Port Arthur Route. From 1898 to 1902 this road was operated individually as Omaha, Kansas City & Eastern with general offices at Kansas City. W. G. Brimson, general manager and W. J. Stonebruner, superintendent. From 1903 to the present time it has been known as the Quincy, Omaha & Kansas City Railroad Company.

In the early spring of 1887 the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company began that division of its road between Kansas City and Chicago which passed through Knox County. The survey missed Edina by a few miles, but our citizens hoped that the line might be deflected so as to pass through our city. Very little attention was paid to the proposition of donating to the company the old M. & M. grade upon which months of labor and thousands of dollars had been expended. Then, to induce the company to bring the survey through Edina, a subscription was proposed, but to no purpose. The line was completed the following year.


The first bridge built in the county after its organization was over South Fabius, west of Edina, and cost $150. It was ordered in 1845. In 1846 Medley Shelton was appointed to build a bridge over Salt River, near the farm of Kindred S. Feltz. The county appropriated $100, the remainder to be contributed by citizens. This was the ''Double Cabin Bridge," noted during the Civil war. In 1846 $92 was appropriated to build a bridge across the north fork of South Fabius, one-half mile north of Edina. Thus from time to time bridges were built as the public treasury could supply the funds. In February, 1847, a bridge was built over the Fabius at Howerton's mill. When the funds fell short, work, money and material were contributed. In June, 1846, a bridge was completed across South Fabius and it was expressly stated that William and James Fresh were to pay one-half the cost of the bridge in material.



© Missouri American History and Genealogy Project
Created August 16, 2017 by Judy White

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913