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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

35 - The Railroads

The Railroads

(-as transcribed from pages 489 - 496)

In 1856 a grant of land was made by Congress for the construction of a railroad from Portage City to LaCrosse on the Mississippi.  The scheme collapsed.  In March, 1865, several business men of St. Croix, Dunn, Chippewa, Eau Claire and Jackson counties, among them were D. A. Baldwin, Capt. William Wilson, J. G. Thorp, H. S. Allen and W. T. Price, promoted a new organization to construct the road.  It was incorporated under legislative powers at the date named, with the title of the Tomah & St. Croix Railway Company.  The first meeting was held at Durand on June 9 of the same year.  At the next session of the legislature the land grant was conferred upon the company with the right of way and the privilege of locating the line on its present course.  This grant was renewed and the land exempted from taxes until 1870 by Congress.  The preliminary expenses in surveying the route, etc., were $20,000.  D. A. Baldwin, of Hudson, had sufficient confidence in the success of the undertaking to advance the money.  The work was done and the necessary maps prepared in 1864-65.  The next step was to find capitalists who would invest the requisite funds to construct and equip the road.  Mr. Baldwin was selected by the directors of the company to carry on the negotiations in this direction.  After trips to principal eastern cities, and the Atlantic twice crossed, Mr. Baldwin's efforts were, after the labor of two years, crowned with success.  Mr. Jacob Humbird, of Baltimore, a prosperous railroad contractor, furnished the entire funds to complete the first thirty-two miles of track to Black River Falls, the payment of which, and all other contract work, was secured by first mortgage on the railbed.  Before commencing operations the name of the company had been changed to the West Wisconsin Railway by an act of the legislature.

The road was completed to Augusta early in 1870, and in the following August the welcome sound of the locomotive which connected us with the east was heard in Eau Claire.  It was made the occasion of such a rejoicing as has never been equaled in Eau Claire.  A meeting of citizens was held at Marston's Hall on the evening of July 25, and the following committee appointed to make arrangements to celebrate the event in a proper manner:  Alexander Meggett, H. P. Graham, Daniel Shaw, George A. Buffington, John Woodworth Nelson, Martin Daniels, Texas Angel, O. H. Ingram, D. E. Brown, Ole Bruden and Matthias Leinenkugel.  The reception and entertainment took place in Randall Park on the west side.  Provision was made for the free entertainment by private hospitality of not less than 300 persons for not less than two days.  The amount raised by voluntary subscription was $1,500 and was sufficient to defray the entire expense of the occasion.  Committees on reception, finance, invitations, entertainment, refreshments, toasts and music were appointed.  The officers of the day were selected as follows:  President, Joseph G. Thorp; vice-presidents, Eau Claire County, Daniel Shaw, H. P Graham, D. C. Clark, H. W. Barnes, J. F. Moore, S. Marston, O. H. Ingram, A. Kidder, W. T. Galloway, R. F. Wilson, John Gunn, Thomas Barland, Simon Randall, R. F. Stone, R. E. Scott, E. W. Robbins, E. Gesner, J. G. Cleghorn, G. L. Frizzell, F. R. Skinner, Seth French; Chippewa county, H. S. Allen, A. Jackson, B. F. Mannahan, R. Palmer, J. Brunett, J. I. Gilbert, L. C. Stanley, A. E. Pound; Dunn county, William Wilson, William Carson, B. B. Downs, Walter Crocker, D. Weston, C. Lucas; Pepin county, F. W. Dorwin, H. P. Farrington, J. Fraser; Jackson county, W. T. Price, James O. Neill, C. Boardman; St. Croix county, J. S. White, M. A. Fulton, Senator Edward H. Ives; marshall, H. Clay Williams; assistants, A. M. Sherman, E. M. Bartlett, Victor Wolf, G. A. Buffington, J. B. Stocking.  Not less than one thousand invitations were issued freely offering the hospitality of the city to all who should choose to come.  Among those invited were our state officers, judges, senators, representatives, members of the legislature, the press of the state, the boards of trade in the cities of Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and LaCrosse, and many distinguished citizens of this and adjoining states.  The day was ushered in by the firing of cannon, in which the citizens of Menomonie assisted with a finely mounted and well-manned brass piece.

People from up and down the Chippewa Valley poured into town to swell the throng, while Menomonie was headed by such representative men as Captain Wilson, John H. Knapp, S. W. Hunt, S. B. French, Wilse Heller, W. W. Winterbotham and others.  The Chippewa Falls delegation, headed by their brass band, comprised upward of seventy teams, and as a distinct delegation was the largest from any one locality.  Twenty vehicles, each drawn by four horses and carrying banners with appropriate mottoes were interspersed at proper distances throughout the procession bearing the following inscriptions:  "Chippewa Falls to Eau Claire, Greeting:  We Rejoice in Your Prosperity;" "Energy and Enterprise Combined - Humbird and Baldwin;" "West Wisconsin Railroad, Now by St. Paul, the Work Goes Bravely On;" "Eau Claire - Twenty Minutes for Refreshments, Change Cars for Chippewa Falls and Lake Superior."  The leading citizens of the Falls helped swell the ranks of the procession and congratulated Eau Claire over the mutual advantages to be gained by the completion of the West Wisconsin Railroad to this point.

Long before the arrival of the first train thousands of people were gathered to witness and hail its approach.  At 10:30 its coming was heralded by the firing of cannon on an eminence commanding its first view.  A momentary suspense followed this announcement, when round the curve it came.  Its arrival at the depot, crowded with guests, was welcomed with the wildest enthusiasm by three rousing cheers.  A second train soon arrived; ample arrangements had been made to convey the guests to the park and in a short time all were on the way to the place of festivity.  There not less than 4,000 people had gathered, and on the platform were D. A. Baldwin, president, and Jacob Humbird, superintendent of the West Wisconsin road; G. L. Beeker, president of the St. Paul & Pacific; E. F. Drake, president of the St. Paul & Sioux City; J. C. Burbank, president of the Chamber of Commerce; O. E. Dodge, secretary; General Sanborn, C. D. Strong, H. S. Moss and P. Berky, St. Paul; Governor Fairchild, General Atwood, Judge Cole, Judge Orton and Attorney-General Barlow, of Madison; General Rusk, of Viroqua; Mayor Joseph Phillips, Councillors C. M. Sanger, John Black and Alderman E. Durr, of Milwaukee; on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and citizens, John Nazro, chairman; Senator Denster, Professor Jewett, L. Everingham, A. R. Matthews, G. W. Chandler, C. A. Battles and wife, C. A. Fulsom, H. Niedecken, F. D. Inbush, W. J. McDonald, D. D. Goodrich and others from Milwaukee; from LaCrosse, Mayor Rodolf, Judge Lord, Capt. Joe Elwell, W. W. Jones, J. J. Cole and A. E. Tenney; Captain Condit and Thomas Tyler, of Sparta; Senator Kershaw, of Adams county; Senator Price, D. J. Spaulding and J. V. Wells, of Black River Falls; Senator Satterlee Clark, of Horicon; Captain Wilson and J. H. Knapp, of Menomonie; A. Pound, J. A. Bate, H. S. Allen, and the old pioneer, John Brunette, of Chippewa Falls; Webster, of the Chamber of Commerce, Chicago; O. E. Britt, J. D. Inbush, John F. F. Adams, E. D. Chapin and many others representing Milwaukee.  The representatives of the press were:  Horace Brightman, of the Milwaukee Sentinel; P. V. Duester, of the Su Boti; F. A. Moore, of the Wisconsin; B. F. Wright, of the St. Paul Pioneer; J. H. Gates, of the Press; O. E. Dodge, of the Dispatch; I. L. Asher, LaCrosse Republican; Lute A. Taylor and Frank Hatch, LaCrosse Leader; Cooper, Black River Falls Banner; Brown, Augusta Herald; Sid. A. Foster, Durand Ties; George C. Ginty, Chippewa Herald; J. O. Culver, State Journal; S. W. Hunt, Dunn County News.

After music by the band the vast assemblage was called to order by the president, Hon. J. G. Thorp, who introduced Alexander Meggett, Esq., chosen to deliver the congratulatory address.  Being a resident of the city from an early period and familiar with its steady rise and progress he was well fitted to perform the duty.  He set forth in a vivid manner the advantages of the valley; its unbounded facilities for manufacturing; its central and commercial importance; its agricultural advantages with its many other claims to distinction and closed with a deserved tribute to Messrs. Baldwin and Humbird, to whose energy, zeal and financial ability the city was so greatly indebted for the consummation of this important event in her history.  A brief but felicitous response to this address was made by Hon. John Nazro, of Milwaukee, in the absence of Hon. Matt. Carpenter, who was unable to present.

Music by the band followed, then the announcement of dinner at the grand pavilion, prepared for the occasion on the other side of the park.  A large "wigwam," open at the sides and roofed with evergreens, held ten tables, each seating seventy persons and presided over by the representative ladies of the city.  They were spread with linen, silver and dainty food from their homes, decorated with flowers from their gardens and the feast was enjoyed to the fullest extent by the guests, who voiced their appreciation enthusiastically.

Nearly three thousand people were dined in a most systematic and satisfactory manner.  Then came a return to the pavilion for the speakers and the post-prandial toasts.  Space will not admit of a recital of the responses, admirable as they were.  The first toast was this:  "The President and Officers of the West Wisconsin Railroad:  Today we celebrate the successful progress of this work.  The first reward of persevering labor and persistent hope and energy that met and conquered opposition and crowned the work with victory.  Such men can never know defeat."  D. A. Baldwin, president of the road, responded in a brief but telling speech.  Senator Clark, in his usual humorous vein, to "The Ladies."  Senator Price to "The Old State Coach - to let without money and without price -dearer than ever on this our parting day."  Governor Fairchild to "The State of Wisconsin" in a happy manner, and equally so was Mr. Nazro in his response to "Milwaukee - May the iron bond that now connects us serve to unite us socially and commercially."  St. Paul and Milwaukee - Representative cities of their respective states.  Soon to become twin cities, so united that no envy will disturb, no jealousy sever."  To this responded Gen. John B. Sanborn, and Mr. Drake, president of the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad. "Chicago - Queen City of the West - rival of the Ocean City of the East."  In response to this Mr. Webster, of the Chicago Board of Trade, made a short, witty speech.  "The Gate City - LaCrosse."  In answer to this Mayor Rodolph, of LaCrosse, made a speech filled with good hits.  Gracefully acknowledging that his city would suffer from the completion of the West Wisconsin, with a good-natured inimitable sarcasm he so used the fact as to make telling hits and secure abundant applause.  "The Western Terminus of the West Wisconsin Railroad, soon to be united closely with the Chippewa Valley and the East.  May the acquaintance of the past ripen into friendship in the future."  Captain Wilson, of Menomonie, was called out by his toast and responded briefly and to the point.  Judge Orton, of Madison, made an able and comprehensive address in reply to the toast.  "Our Country- tried as by a furnace of fire, she still lives - the embodiment of republican institutions."  General Atwood, of the State Journal and member of Congress for the Second District, responding for "The Press," and Judge Cole, of the Supreme Court, for the judiciary, were listened to with great interest and frequent applause, and these closed the serious part of the program.  Then Gen. Ossian E. Dodge, secretary of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, gave evidence of his wonderful powers as an improvisator.  He composed and sang a song which was a complete report of the entire celebration, including the speech of Judge Cole just concluded.  It was received with uproarious demonstrations of delight.  The song over, the vast throng began to disperse, carriages were brought into requisition, distinguished guests and strangers from abroad seated in them and driven through portions of the city on the west side to the site of the railroad bridge across the Chippewa and thence to the depot.  Here "good-byes" were interchanged, and as the train moved off Eau Claire received from her departing guests a hearty round of cheers, which evinced their satisfaction with the day.  This road afterward became a part of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway, and still later a part of the Northwestern system.  Now through trains run through Eau Claire from Chicago to Los Angeles, Cal., over the Northwestern road in connection with the Northern Pacific over a double track road.

Eau Claire, March 7, 1910. - Editor Telegram. - A few days ago you printed an article calling attention to the fact that this year marks the fortieth anniversary of the completion of the first railroad into Eau Claire, and suggesting some sort of a celebration to mark the event.  The idea is a good one and we hope it will be acted on.  It would be a decided improvement over the street fair of recent years.

You spoke of the railroad celebration of 1870 having been "one of the greatest ever held in the city."  That is not putting it strong enough.  Although a much smaller city than now a celebration was held that in point of attendance and notables present has never been equaled in the history of Eau Claire.

The writer has a pamphlet, published at the time, which gives a complete account of the celebration with the names of those who took part in it.  So far as we know it is the only account in existence.  Your readers may be interested to see the names of the officers and committees, also of the ladies who had charge of the tables in Randall Park, where free dinners were served to over three thousand.

Following are the names;

Committee of Reception - G. G. Thorp, R. F. Wilson, O. H. Ingram, H. W. Barnes, Daniel Shaw, G. A. Buffington, Charles R. Gleason, C. A. Bullen, H. C. Putnam, William Gans, A. W. Bosworth, E. M. Bartlett, Stephen Marston, William B. Esterbrook, DeWitt C. Clark, William H. Smith, Milo B. Wyman, G. B. Chapman, L. Slingluff, E. R. Hantzsch, H. Sommermeyer, H. Schlegelmilch, James Reed, Victor Wolf, H. T. Jones, L. W. Farwell, T. Malone, H. Clay Williams, H. Stocking, John Gunn.

Committee of Finance - W. F. Bailey, C. C. Spafford, Peter Truax, John Woodworth and Matthias Leinenkugel.

Committee on Invitations - Henry Cousins, James F. Moore, Ira Mead, H. C. Putnam and Texas Angel.

Committee on Entertainment - Martin Daniels, J. G. Callahan, A. A. Kidder, C. A. Bullen and D. E. Brown.

Committee on Refreshments - George C. Teall, J. F. Weber, C. E. Chandler, S. s. Kidder and Ole Bruden.

Committee on Toasts - W. P. Bartlett, G. E. Porter, L. M. Vilas, William F. Bailey, Rev. Mr. Dudley, Rev. Mr. Lockwood and Rev. Mr. Aitchison.

Committee on Music - J. P. Nelson, Matthias Leinenkugel and W. W. Day.

First Table - Hon. George C. Teall, assisted by E. S. Chase, W. A. Teall, Mrs. George C. Teall, Mrs. J. G. Callahan, Mrs. R. F. Wilson, Mrs. Clarence Chamberlin, Mrs. William T. Weber and Mrs. Arthur Ellis, Mrs. Stephen V. Wyckoff, and Miss Mary T. Meggett, Miss Libbie French, Miss Ella Blair and Miss Mary Marston.

Table Second - Mr. S. S. Kidder, assisted by D. F. Crabbe, A. R.Watson, Mrs. S. S. Kidder, Mrs. James F. Moore, Mrs. G. A. Buffington, Mrs. A. V. Mayhew, Mrs. D. F. Crabbe, Mrs. A. M. Teague, Miss Augusta Kidder, Miss Sarah Cole, Miss Martha Kidder, Miss Nellie Kidder, Miss Sarah Kidder.

Table Third - Mr. John Gilman, assisted by Nelson C. Wilcox, Arthur Smith, Mrs. G. E. Porter, Mrs. D. R. Moon, Mrs. H. C. Putnam, Mrs. H. P. Thomas, Mrs. N. C. Wilcox, Mrs. J. P. Nelson, Mrs. Dan Chandler, Mrs. Arthur Smith, Mrs. M. V. B. Jackson, Mrs. J. G. Lilman, Mrs. H. P. Graham, Mrs. Sam C. Putnam, Mrs. C. Chandler.

Table Fourth - Mrs. Chauncey E. Chandler, assisted by D. E. Brown, Arthur J. Chapman, William Dean, Mrs. C. E. Chandler, Mrs. Sam Ellis, Mrs. George Grout, Mrs. H. Clay Williams, Mrs. B Demorest, Mrs. P. Anderson, Mrs. Thomas Kenyon, Mrs. D. W. Day, Mrs. A. Buel, Miss J. Smith.

Table Fifth - Mrs. J. F. Weber, assisted by Charles Hathaway, M. D. Buell, Mrs. M. B. Wyman, Daniel Hyleman, W. F. Burdett, Charles Hathaway, J. B. Randall, W. F. Bailey, Chet. Hall, Alexander Watson, Misses V. A. Parrott, Sarah Smith, ______ Cushner.

Table Sixth - Mr. B. F. Teall, assisted by Charles Blanding, Stephen Smith, Mrs. William H. Smith, Mrs. W. P. Bartlett, Mrs. James M. Brackett, Mrs. S. M. Bangs, Mrs. R. W. Copeland, Mrs. Joseph Felton, Misses Sallie French, Laura Barnes, Maggie Barland, Isa Barland, Delia Boylen.

Table Seventh - Mr. Roderick Elwell, assisted by James Hutchins, Abel Davis, Charles Hayes, Mrs. C. F. Mayhew, Mrs. John Randall, Mrs. William Grant, Mrs. James Hutchins, Miss M. Howes, Miss Hattie Bullen, Miss Florence Oliver, Miss Nettie Hutchins, Miss Libbie Hutchins.

Table Eighth - Mr. A. E. Angel, assisted by Melvin Wilson, Henry Wilson, Henry Randall, Mrs. John O. French, Mrs. F. D. Rathbun, Miss Julia Wilson, Miss Sarah Wilson, Miss Fannie Bliss, Miss H. Elder, Miss Lizzie Dennison, Miss Angie Allen, Miss Mary Congdon, Miss Hattie Ward.

Table Ninth - Mr. Ole Bruden, assisted by D. E. Brown, Arthur Chapman, William Dean, Mrs. Robert Tolles, Mrs. Albert Converse, Mrs. D. E. Brown, Mrs. Thomas Torrant, Mrs. Francis Campbell, Mrs. A. J. Chapman, Mrs. Frank McDonough, Miss Alice Condit.

Table Tenth - Mr. E. Robert Hantzsch, assisted by Peter Meeran, Mrs. E. R. Hantzsch, Mrs. Peter Meeran, Mrs. Theodore Seehaven, Mrs. Phillip Herring, Mrs. Henry Gross, Mrs. K. Oxford, Miss Augusta Hubner, Miss Elsie Winggen, Miss Pauline Krauser, Miss Henrietta Smith, Miss Lizzie Lang, Miss Mary Kalter, Miss Augusta Kitzman.

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