Mississippi and Missouri Railroad

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The Mississippi and Missouri Railroad (M&M Railroad) was the first railroad in Iowa and was chartered in 1853 to build a line between Davenport, Iowa on the Mississippi River and Council Bluffs, Iowa on the Missouri River and was to play an important role in the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

The line was originally created so that the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad could extend its line across the Mississippi River via Government Bridge which was the first bridge to cross the Mississippi when it opened in 1856.

Shortly after the bridge opened in 1856, a steamboat hit the bridge and steamboat companies sued to have the bridge dismantled. The M&M and Rock Island hired private attorney Abraham Lincoln to defend the bridge. The case was to work its way through the courts to reach U.S. Supreme Court in 1862 during the American Civil War when the court decided in the bridge's favor.

During Lincoln's investigation into the case he was to travel to Council Bluffs to inspect M&M property in August 1859 under the guidance of the M&M attorney Norman Judd. On the visit Judd and M&M engineer Grenville Dodge were to describe the merits of having the eastern terminus of the railroad at Council Bluffs. After the Pacific Railroad Act in 1862, Lincoln was to pick Council Bluffs as the eastern terminus and the Union Pacific created by former M&M owner Thomas C. Durant to be the company headed east (with the main engineer for the Union Pacific soon to be Dodge).

Durant was slow to build the M&M through Iowa although quick to manipulate its stock. He had gained control of the Union Pacific because of his stated plans for the M&M. However, the line under his ownership did not even make it half way across the state terminating in Kellogg, Iowa 40 miles east of Des Moines, Iowa in 1865 with a branch to Muscatine, Iowa terminating in Washington, Iowa.[1]

Durant built up his fortune by manipulating the M&M stock via rumors. First he drove up M&M stock by saying the transcontinental railroad would travel across Iowa via the M&M while at the same time quietly buying depressed Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad (CR&M) stock. Then he spread rumors that drove up the CR&M stock that the transcontinental would follow that line instead and Durant bought back the newly depressed M&M stock. The gambit made Durant and his cohorts $5 million.[2]

The Rock Island Line bought the M&M on July 9, 1866 and completed its line to Council Bluffs in 1869 and was to extend the Muscatine/Washington Line to Leavenworth, Kansas. The merged railroad was called the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, a name it was to keep until being dissolved in bankruptcy in the 1970s.


  1. ^ A Brief Historical Overview of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad
  2. ^ People & Events: Thomas Clark Durant (1820-1885) - Transcontinental Railroad - American Experience