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This historic train station on the east side of Jefferson was part of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, which is often called the Milwaukee Road, and built it between 1906 and 1909. The depot has largely remained unchanged and is a good example of an early 20th century train station. Compared to other Milwaukee Road depots, the Jefferson depot is more decorative in appearance. It features pent gables, an open pavilion on the north side, and ornamental window treatment. Today, the depot houses tourist information and railroad memorabilia, and it is also located at the trailhead of the Raccoon River Valley Recreational Bike Trail. The depot is available to rent as an event venue.

The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Depot was built sometime between 1906 and 1909.

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The Milwaukee Road was one three railroads that operated in Jefferson by the late 1800s. The other two were the Chicago & Northwestern and the Rock Island. The Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad built the rail line (from Des Moines to Fonda) that passed through Jefferson in either 1882 or 1883. This line became known as the High Bridge Route since it ran across a long, high bridge over the Des Moines River. In the 1870s and early 1880s, the line became a part of the 500 miles of track in Iowa created by railroad magnate Jay Gould (1836-1892). The Des Moines, Northern & Western Railway Company acquired the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad in 1884, although the acquisition was not officially completed until 1891.

In 1895, the Milwaukee Road bought the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad. As a result, the High Bridge line became part of the Milwaukee Road. The Jefferson depot, which was almost identical to the one in the town of Adel, Iowa, appears to have replaced a combined passenger and freight depot built as early as 1893. Passenger service ended in the 1950s but freight shipping continued until around 1980. The depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places 1994.

Conrad, Rebecca. "Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Depot." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. September 30, 1994.

"Milwaukee Railroad Depot." Jefferson Matters. Accessed November 1, 2021.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Dan Breyfogle, via Wikimedia Commons: