From New York to Forest City, IA, in 1902

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#1
I am doing genealogywork on my norwegian-american family.
My granduncle immigrated to America in 1902.
An old letter tells us his story about how he got alle the way from Norway to Thompson, IA.

I am working on writing a family book, and I try to find out all the details about his travel with the railroad.

The information I have is the following:

Sept 8th 1902, Monday: Left New York by train 11 PM.
Sept 9th 1902, Tuesday: Arrived Buffalo,NY, at 12 noon. Changed train for Chicago, IL.
Sept 10th 1902, Wednesday: Arrived Chicago at 8 AM. Stayed in Chicago to 4 PM, then back on the train.
Then he writes that they changed trains several times.
They were left on a railroadstation where they were from 3 AM to 1230 PM.
The final destination was Forest City, IA.

My questions is:
- Where did he change trains?
- How was the complete route?
- On what railroadstation did he stay over night before going to Forest City?
- Any pictures of the trains he may have travelled with?
- Any pictures of the Forest City railroadstation about 1902?
 

Bob

Forum Host
Staff member
#2
I'd suggest starting by researching New York Central timetables of the era and see if you find a match. New York to Buffalo sounds like New York Central. However... They changed trains in Buffalo, so that makes me wonder. Seems like they could have had a through train on the New York Central. Maybe they used some other route. In that era, there were likely several options.
 
#3
I'm just guessing, but I think your granduncle would've taken the Rock Island (Chicago rock Island & Pacific RR) to West Liberty IA. Both the Rock Island and NYC used La Salle Street Station in Chicago. There he would change trains and railroads from the Rock Island to the BCR&N (Burlington Cedar Rapids & Northern Ry), which was a RI affiliate. (The BCR&N a year or two later became fully integrated into the RI.) On the BCR&N he would've changed trains again at Cedar Rapids and Dows, IA. The line from Dows to Forest City was a branchline.
Here are a few links to A BCR&N 1899 timetable.

The full timetable http://www.rits.org/www/histories/BCRNTT/index.html
The page showing trains going north (through West Liberty and Cedar Rapids) http://www.rits.org/www/histories/BCRNTT/photos/IM0003.jpg
The page showing trains going north of Cedar Rapids http://www.rits.org/www/histories/BCRNTT/photos/IM0005.jpg
The page showing the Forest City line (Belmond Division) http://www.rits.org/www/histories/BCRNTT/photos/IM0006.jpg

I notice there is a train that is scheduled for Dows just after 3am. However, the connecting train in 1899 doesn't match the 1230pm time. On the trains going North, there is a freight train (that also carried passengers) scheduled at West Liberty for 145pm. Again, this timetable is a few years before the journey, but times are close.

Here is a couple pictures of depots along the RI/BCR&N route.

http://www.rits.org/www/structures/depots/TinderDepots/WestLibertyb.jpeg This is West Liberty where he would've changed from the RI to the BCR&N. The track in the foreground was the BCR&N line. It was abandoned in the early 1980s.

http://www.rits.org/www/structures/depots/NelsonDepots/CRapids.jpg Cedar Rapids station.


http://www.rits.org/www/structures/depots/stoffer/dowsia.jpg The Dows IA depot, junction with the Forest City branch.

http://www.rits.org/www/structures/depots/TinderDepots/Garner.jpeg I couldn't find picture of Forest City, but this was Garner, IA on the Dows to Forest City line. It is typical of BCR&N depots and probably close to what Forest City would've looked like. Both West Liberty and Dows were replacement depots. I believe West Liberty was built about 1899. Dows about the time of his journey. Both West Liberty and Dows depots still exist and are now museums.

Jeff
Note. All links are to what was the Rock Island Technical Society. It isn't active, but as of this writing most of it's website is still up.
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#4
New York to Buffalo sounds like New York Central. However... They changed trains in Buffalo, so that makes me wonder. Seems like they could have had a through train on the New York Central. Maybe they used some other route. In that era, there were likely several options.
As an immigrant who probably did not have much money, your grand uncle may have taken lesser class trains that required a transfer in Buffalo. This really makes sense when you look at the thirteen hour travel time between New York City and Buffalo and the twenty hour travel time between Buffalo and Chicago.
 



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