JULY I, 1882 – Once more I'm away from home, this time in the frontier town of Sioux City, Iowa, where I've been temporarily assigned as an operator.

We already have a network of rails throughout most of this prosperous state, many of which have been laid only this year.

I arrived here in time for the most excitement they've had since the people used to get alarmed about possible Indian raids. The womenfolk in Iowa for some time have been agitating to have the State constitution amended to ban the sale of liquor. Four days ago they held the election and it proved an exciting affair.

The women made their men feel quite foolish, praying in the streets when their husbands went into the voting booths. It must have done some good, because the women won their point and carried the election by 30,000 votes.

I understand, though, that the liquor people intend to appeal the election to the State Supreme Court on some technical grounds.

NOVEMBER 3, 1882 – I’ve just returned home to St. Paul and my family to discover that our Railway now has a girl switchman! A conductor on The Milwaukee run told me the story only this morning. It seems that a switch-tender in The Milwaukee yards named Gsandtner recently was killed at work. His only survivor is a daughter, Annie, who long has been his helper. Four years ago, when she was only 12, Annie gained some fame when her father forgot about the switches. She remembered to open them and saved a train from being wrecked.

Annie has been officially appointed to her father's position and is doing an exceedingly good job, from all reports. The conductor told me that between tasks she sits knitting in her little red switch shanty which already is becoming a mecca for the curious who have heard the story of her position.

DECEMBER 14, 1883 – Events on the Railway have moved so fast this year that now is an opportune time for a summing up: President Mitchell recently pointed out that "the rapidity of the settlement of Dakota is a marvel of the times." During the past year more than twelve million acres of land have been taken up for cultivation by settlers. Our lines in Dakota, built mostly in advance of settlements, will at an early day be supplied with an abundance of traffic, from all indications. In fact, our Railway has been expanding in all directions with little or no aid in the form of Government land grants.

Rails have been pushed on the Chippewa Valley & Superior Division from Eau Claire, Wis. to Chippewa Falls, Wis.; from Cedar Rapids, Ia. to Ottumwa, Ia.; and in Dakota they have been extended 81 miles to make a continuous line in the James River Valley from Yankton, northward by way of Mitchell, through Aberdeen to Ellendale, a distance of 250 miles.

JANUARY 3, 1884 – My wife and I have decided to take advantage of one of the newest conveniences, the telephone, of which there already are more than 100 in the city. Although this device undoubtedly has its merits, I am inclined to be somewhat skeptical from a purely personal standpoint. Should these instruments be placed in use generally throughout the country, what will be the future of the telegraph? Nevertheless, we have made application to have one installed.

MARCH 19, 1884 – The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway has scored another first! Just yesterday we inaugurated a new fast mail train between Minneapolis – St. Paul and Chicago.

No less a personage than the Postmaster General proposed that we operate a fast mail train. Our officials acted with such dispatch that at 10:05 the next night the train began its first run from Chicago. Carrying no passengers and consisting of four coaches – three mail and one storage car – it arrived here promptly at 7:00 A.M.


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Last Updated: March 03, 2009