Great Western Railroad
July 1, 1886:
What was formerly known as the Diagonal railroad for the Des Moines to St. Joseph
and Kansas City, has recently passed into new hands and is claimed will be built
September 16, 1886:
The engineers on the so-called Diagonal railroad are now some place in the vicinity
of Goshen. Mt. Ayr should keep a sharp eye on all these movements, for the building
of this road is only a matter of time.
November 18, 1886:
Our railroad company has another squad of men surveying and think they are locating
the line at this time.
They are following the west bank of the Grand River, calculating to cross the divide
over to Platte bottom some two miles south of the north line of Benton Township.
February 10, 1887:
Some of the railroad contractors were looking over the line last week and say that
work will begin as soon as the frost is out of the ground; and grading will be completed
by the first of October. Bridge timbers will be shipped here in a few days.
There are ten railroad men in Goshen making preparations for work on the new line.
Four car loads of railroad scrapers are here for the Diagonal road and number of
civil engineers are here who have charge of the grading thirty miles north of the
Missouri line. Get your mules ready; there will be plenty of work! Merchants of Goshen will
enjoy a boom while the road is being built.
Agents for the Diagonal are busy getting right-of-way and setting grade sticks. Twenty
teams are already at work, and they have set up a company store at Goshen to accommodate
Mr. Henderson and Company have forty-three scrapers and six wheelers working, and
they will pay good prices for fifty teams. They plowed the first furrow on the line
in March, 1887. William Johnston sold his white mules.
April 30, 1887:
Much discussion is being held over the crossing of the Diagonal and H.&S. The crossing
was proposed unsafe, and an overhead crossing was recommended.
November 17, 1887:
The new Diagonal has passed through, as they took all their hands, cooking cars, sleeping
As the first train came through, all the puffing and whistling caused the Josiah Jarvis
cattle to take a stampede.
The new Diagonal is running the longest trains of any other and with great speed as
the road is all fenced, guide boards up at roads, and all in good shape.
July 4, 1889:
The citizens of Goshen and Diagonal complained to the state C.G.W. railroad commissioners
that the Chicago, St.Paul & K.C. railroad trains do not stop at the crossing of the
H.&S. and invited the commissioners to make inquiry.
Knowlton filed a grievance that if the train stopped at Diagonal, it would take away
their business. The leaders ruled it unnecessary to have two depots a mile apart.
Dr. Reed's shipment of lumber had to be hauled from Knowlton, costing nearly $14.00
. Had there been a sidetrack at the crossing, the bill would have been only $2.00
February 15, 1894:
The case of Diagonal against the C.G.W. has been thrown out again. Knowlton had the
start and that is all.
June 27, 1895:
D.H. McClearey, of Diagonal, was in Mt. Ayr meeting with heads of the C.G.W. .
Half a dozen were in Diagonal to look over the situation of acquiring a depot. Diagonal
is much lifted up by the plans and prospects of having a depot, a side track, and
stockyards at the crossing.
Should this happen, New York and Chicago will pale before this place, and who knows.
but Mt. Ayr and Knowlton may move over; and, of course, Mt. Ayr will bring along
the courthouse and new jail. Then we will be the county seat.
November 14, 1895:
Great progress is being made at Diagonal for the transfer switch and depot. The switch
yard and depot lie just east of Diagonal. They are so determined to finish the depot
quickly that, to their discredit, they have their carpenters working on the Sabbath Day. The depot will be open the first of 1896.
December 3, 1896:
The railroad companies have complied with the law and wishes of the people, and put
in a Y connection at Diagonal.
January 13, 1898:
The water supply at Knowlton and Shannon City failed. The C.G.W. sank a forty foot
well and walled it with stone.
June 25, 1907:
A wreck on the C.G.W., near Maloy, between No. 6 and a freight train, delayed an excursion
train running from K.C. to Des Moines, which unloaded its 600 passengers at Diagonal
Sunday morning for breakfast.
Last week two trains were ordered not to stop at Knowlton. Diagonal depot will now
be open all hours of the day.
June 7, 1909:
A heavy rain caused flooding in the night, and the passengers on No. 6 were trapped
in the train as they sat waiting for another train to pass. The next morning, as
the water receded, Elza Wells, restaurant owner, took lunches to the stranded people.
Elmer Stiles came near losing his life when he tried to swim the river to rescue some
horses. He sank twice, before being rescued by Frank Ruby.
October 10, 1911:
The C.G.W. is planning to build a new depot south of the Burlington tracks. They
tried to build a union depot with the Burlington, but some satisfactory arrangements
couldn't be made.
June 23, 1921:
Depot agent, J.B. Forsythe, turned over the Knowlton business to Diagonal.
Depot owned grounds were improved. A fence of heavy gas pipe painted white was set
around the grounds. On the sloping bank, "DIAGONAL"was spelled out. This made
Diagonal one of the best looking depots on the route.
A shopper train leaves Diagonal at 6:40a.m., arriving in St. Joe at 10:00, and back
home again at 6:40p.m. This leaves five hours of shopping in St. Joseph, Missouri.
March 18, 1939:
Ivan Crew, coming up highway 66, discovered the depot on fire and alerted the depot
agent, Joe Junger. The depot was a total loss.
At present a freight car will be used for business.
(A new depot was built in 1940.)
After a fire destroyed the coal station at Talmage, Diagonal will be the new coal
station. Some of the big freights have a tender capacity of thirty tons of coal.
The coal will be kept in a cement storage pit with extra car loads on the spur.
Diesel units are now being used.
April 19, 1962:
At 9:40, the last passenger train, headed south, passed through Diagonal. Jimmy Fine
was the last passenger to get off at Diagonal.
C.G.W. merged with Chicago North Western.
January 1, 1970:
On December 29, 1969, twenty-odd cars of the CNW freight train piled up in the area
north of the depot. Many people stood in frigid weather as the crews righted the
In October of this same year, another big wreck occurred south of Dead Man's Cut.
Also this year, they tried to close the depot.
In 1971 the depot was officially closed and we no longer had a depot agent.
In April, 1985, the last train came through town to pick up the last empty cars sitting
on the side track south of town. The wording on the caboose was "Pulling Together".
During the summer months, they took up the rails and all the good ties and other materials.
During the next two years, the depot was removed and the land cleared for use by
Sur-Gro. This removed all signs of a railroad, but habit makes people still look in both directions as they approach the crossing.
Our Early History Begins...
We get a name!
A Little More About Our Founding...
The Burlington Railroad
Diagonal, Iowa today!
Come Visit Our Family Home (page, that is)
A little about these Wileys
Our Family Tree Work
More Current Towns of Ringgold County
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