Ottumwa Life We Are Ottumwa - Ottumwa Life Summer 2021 - Page 18

Traveling through history

The railroad was one of the bedrocks that led to Ottumwa ’ s expansion when it was founded , so it ’ s no surprise the the Historic Railroad District is part of the National Register of Historic Places .

Ottumwa ’ s reputation as a wholesale center made it an ideal stocking point during the Civil War years . Goods were able to be shipped by rail before being loaded onto wagon to continue the trip west .
By 1890 , there were five railroads “ reaching to or passing through ” Ottumwa , according to the district ’ s nomination papers , with around 1,000 locals employed by the railroads in 1914 . Lines led in almost every direction with access to Chicago , the Twin Cities , St . Louis , Kansas City , Omaha and Denver .
From 1920 to 1940 , Ottumwa became the main position of handling for the Burlington rail line as the other two offices in the state , as well as St . Joseph , Missouri , were consolidated to Ottumwa . In 1942 , a rail spur was added to the Naval Air Station to transport troops .
After World War II , railroads began to lose freight business to trucks , water transport and pipelines as passenger travel was lost to buses , airplanes and automobiles , according to the documents . Railroad companies began to merge , and Amtrak began service in Ottumwa in 1971 .
“ As of January 2011 , there are approximately 30 freight trains and two passenger trains passing through Ottumwa on a daily basis . The number of freight trains varies from season to season ,” the nomination reads .
The district includes four properties related to the Chicago , Burlington & Quincy Railroad ( CB & Q ), according to
18 We Are Ottumwa