4:45 p.m. on May 11, 1861, Cedar Falls ceased to be a frontier
town. The first train arrives on the tracks of-the-Dubuque
and Pacific Railroad.
The Dubuque and
Pacific, later the Dubuque and Sioux City and now the Illinois
Central, came to Cedar Falls on the east side of the river.
It had originally planned to cross the river at Waterloo
and come into Cedar Falls near 19th and Main.
A shortage of
money led to a change in plan. Once the tracks reached Cedar
Falls the-Dubuque and Pacific could sell its right-of-way
land grant. It went faster to reach Cedar Falls on the level
east side of the river, so the railroad finally chose that
started west from Cedar Falls in 1864. An incident took
place then that had a lasting effect on Black Hawk County.
"In fact," wrote historian Roger Leavitt, "the
whole future of the town turned on a few hundred dollars."
wanted to build a bridge at Cedar Falls. This required the
temporary closing of the millrace. Mill owners charged the
railroad $300 a day for every day the water was shut off.
The company had planned to make Cedar Falls the end of the
division and the site of its shops. The $300 daily charge
as angered the owners that they changed their plans. Waterloo,
not Cedar Falls, became the site of the shops and the end
of the division.
Cedar Falls was
the natural place for the division, according to Leavitt,
as it was 100 miles from Dubuque. "When anger rules
judgment departs," he wrote. "Had the shops been
located here this would have probably been the larger town."
Central Depot on North Main Street is a reminder of the
important part railroads played in the development of Cedar