Sheridan's Railroad
Quad River News--March 20, 1985
By Bill Gladstone

Pauline Arthur, now retired, but at the time an instructor in the education department at NWMSU, labeled me at one time as "the all-time brain picker she had ever seen". Now Pauline was always a bit too generous with her descriptions, and I am sure I didn't deserve such an accolade. I do admit, though, that I have no hesitancy in getting useful information wherever I can find it. In doing so, I always try to give credit where credit is due. Last month Juanita Humphreys provided most of the material I used.
This month I turned to Sheridan's premier restaurateur, John Bainum. John is collecting and organizing a terrific amount of historical information about the Sheridan-Defiance area and the nicest thing about it is that he is willing to share it.
Most likely it won't be too long until Worth County railroads will only be a memory. The tracks through the west part of the county will probably be removed this summer, and that will end 105 years of railroads in Worth County.
John Bainum loaned me six pictures, and I finally gave up on choosing just one. I hope Editor Joe is kind enough to print the two I finally chose.
The first picture shows a passenger train that is being pulled by a steam engine. The date of the picture is not available, but I would guess from the type hats the men seem to be wearing that it was somewhere near the turn of the century. It must have been in late winter because the engine is still sporting a snow plow.
The second picture is a nostalgia picture. It was taken on the morning of April 28, 1961, and it shows the last passenger train to have stopped in Sheridan as it pulled out of the station heading on down the line on its final run.
In 1887 and 1888 the Chicago St. Paul & Kansas City Railroad laid the line up the Platte River Valley which connected Kansas City, St. Joseph, Des Moines, St. Paul and Chicago.
The line ran on a north-south line from Kansas City to the Iowa/Mo line and then ran diagonally across the state of Iowa to Oelwein. There it forked and ran either to St. Paul or to Chicago.
In its earliest days, the section from Kansas City to Waterloo was known as the diagonal route. I wonder if this had anything to do with the naming of Diagonal, IA.
In 1892, there was a name change from the Chicago St. Paul & Kansas City Railroad to the Chicago Great Western Railway. The line then became known as the Maple Leaf Line. An old advertisement in the possession of John shows the line overlayed on a maple leaf.
For some unknown reason the name was changed from Railroad to Railway in 1909 and back to Railroad in 1941. On June 1, 1968, the CGW RR merged with the Chicago Northwestern Railway.
Building this railroad also established the towns of Sheridan, Parnell and Ravenwood and most likely all of the other little towns down along the line. The town of Defiance faded into history with the establishment of Sheridan as did the little town of Sweet Home when Ravenwood was established. (Most likely there was a forerunner to Parnell and if so I am sure some kind soul will pass along the information.)