APRIL 20, 1857 These are indeed trying days. The hard-won savings of many of our citizens have disappeared with the "panic." We have suffered to some extent, but, with God's help, I feel confident that we will weather this crisis.

Be that as it may, there still are signs of progress. Just five days ago The Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road operated its first train, with many hurrahs, to Prairie du Chien on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Much as I would have enjoyed taking part in the excursion, my duties on the farm were too manifold to permit of such an indulgence but I have gathered from friends that this, generally, is what took place.

The train consisted of a locomotive, three passenger cars and a baggage car. The cars were completed in the company's own shop in Milwaukee and are said to be handsome, sturdy and well ventilated.

At 5 P.M. the train reached the great river and the shriek of the locomotive whistle was answered by a blast from a Mississippi steamer just reaching port.

Several hundred persons gathered on the banks of the river to witness the arrival. As the train came puffing into view, great shouts of welcome arose from the crowd. The train itself was gaily decorated in flags and bunting. To climax this historic event an eight gallon keg of Lake Michigan water was emptied into the Mississippi with much pomp and ceremony.

The road to Prairie du Chien was completed under the direction of Mr. E. H. Brodhead, the President of the company who succeeded Mr. Catlin in 1856. Mr. Brodhead, formerly the chief engineer, has been a familiar figure in Wisconsin since 1851 when he came here from New England. He is not a man to hand down a hasty opinion, I have been told, but those who work for the Rail Road say his decisions, when eventually given, ring with authority.


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Last Updated: March 03, 2009