The Iron Horse
A Boston reporter wrote: “What adds very materially to the impetus thus given to Davenport, and seems to secure it against any check, is the fact that, besides being connected, as above mentioned, with the East, she is stretching out an iron arm towards the West also, and will soon open a railroad communication through the interior of the State to the Missouri River. Some particulars concerning this road (the Mississippi and Missouri) were given in my former letters. A thousand men are now at work upon it between here and Iowa City, and in all probability, it will be finished to that point by next December. As far as the first depot, twelve miles from here (Davenport), the cars will be running in less than two months.
Around the site selected for this first depot, on a tract of land which, at the date of my last letter, was an unbroken prairie, in the undisputed (though not altogether undisturbed) possession of prairie chickens, quite a town has sprung up, which has received the name of ‘Walcott.’ The growth of this town has been marvelous, even for this country of marvels. It was laid out about the 25th of last December, (when the depot was located,) and the County Surveyor is already engaged in laying out ‘additions!’ The first stick of lumber was hauled there in the beginning of January, and since that time, I am told, twenty-five teams with lumber have been there in one day.
Two stores are finished, and numerous dwellings and stores are under way. A large hotel is nearly completed, is already leased, and will soon be opened to the public. Roads are projected in all directions. Shanties are up, and a large force of laborers is on hand to grade the depot grounds and complete the railroad. The town is surrounded by a beautiful rolling prairie, dotted with groves of oak and locust. A finer body of land cannot be found in the world, and before many months, according to present indications, it will be covered with cultivated farms.
A town which has grown up thus rapidly in mid winter, under every disadvantage in respect to the transportation of the necessary building materials, will certainly make its way in the world when dry weather and the running of the cars shall furnish its facilities. I think I may safely predict prosperity to ‘Walcott.’ “ Boston Boy
April 23, 1854
Boston Evening Transcript,