HISTORY OF AFTON JUNCTION

The late 1800ís were a period of rapid growth for railroads west of the Mississippi. Nowhere was this expansion greater than in Union County, Iowa.

First to come was the CB&Q [Chicago, Burlington and Quincy]. Small towns sprung up beside the tracks and owed their lives to these throbbing beast of the prairie. Afton, at this time, was the county seat of Union County. Creston had the largest roundhouse in the world. Beginning in 1888 and continuing into the 1890ís another railroad inched its way across the county. It was known as he Maple Leaf or Diagonal and later became the Chicago Great Western. This line spurred life into Lorimor, Monette, Talmage, Sheperd Station, Arispe, Shannon City and numerous other towns in south central Iowa.

On half mile south of Talmage another village was created, though it was never incorporated. This was the point where the CB&Q crossed the Great Western and came to be called Afton Junction. This name stuck for local use and by the Great Western. However on one line detrained at detrained at Afton Junction to wait for the next passenger on the other line. Because as many as 300 passengers changed trains daily at this point new facilities must be built to accommodate them.

There is a painting that shows Afton Junction was viewed from the south. A train is crossing the bridge on the CB&Q. Below, on the Great Western another train is approaching from the north. The depot is out of sight behind the CB&Q fill. Passengers for the CGW boarded beside the depot, but passengers for the CB&Q must walk beside the steps to the CB&Q tracks, under the bridge, past a tool shed, and up the steps to the CB&Q level. There a waiting room was built to shelter passengers as they waited. A day agent and two operators were on duty 24 hours a day to care for he large flow of travelers.

The foreground show th Afton Junction Hotel and barely visible to the north is a restaurant which joined to the hotel with a long porch and steps. At this time the CB&Q awardable line road and the CGW maintained a single line with passing tracks extending from north of Talmage to just south of Afton Junction.

This being before the advent of cars many people from Afton and Creston and surrounding towns packed lunch baskets and hammocks to come to Afton Junction to have a picnic in the heavily treed park located to the southeast of the two railroads.. No need to bring drinks! A cool natural spring provided plenty of fresh water which was directed into a fountain. The overflow went into a large pool where goldfish splashed.

Later another depot was built, this time on the south side of the CB&Q fill in the area of the tool shed in this picture. This much larger depot provided a large waiting room for passengers. A the north end an elevator was built, not for passengers, they still used the steps between rail levels, but for express, baggage and mail. On days when the Montgomery Ward catalogs arrived from Kansas City and had to be put onto the CB&Q, the elevator developed problems. The load was so heavy the cable stretched 6 to 8 inches so the elevator floor and the dock did not meet. Catalogs had to be thrown off until the load was lighter and the baggage cart could be rolled off.

With the coming of cars, the number of passenger trains decreased from 6 a day each direction on the CB&Q and 3 a day each direction on the CB&Q to finally one a day each direction on each line. As passengers lessened Fton Junction began to fade. By 1942 all buildings were gone of falling into ruin. Today, all that remains is a few foundation stones. Even the Great Western, so vital to early days of Union County, was torn out in 1985. The end of an era.

Following is a list of the night operators and agents at Afton Junction. This list is not complete but are the ones Henry Vogel remembered.

Joe V. Goin, Bert B, White, S.V. [Hadley] Castor, Mr. Shafer, Mr. Shriver,

John McDonald, & Virgil Goin, who worked extra, son of Joe V. Goin.

During the time many passenger trains were running there were three shifts of agents and operators twenty-four hours a day. As rains travel decreased shift were cut one at a time and the men were moved to other locations. By the end of the 1930s all exchange of passengers between the two railroads had ceased and the last agent, Joe V. Goin, left.

The ones who ran the hotel usually operated a motorized taxi service. Some of them were: Elmer Allen, Charlie Thompson, Claude Loy & Bill Courtney.

Bill Courtney was the last to run the hotel-taxi service. By that time the number of passengers needing taxi service had decreased to much that there might be only one fare in a period of three or four days. During the 1920ís both the hotel and taxi service ceased operation. Written by Henry & Lucille Vogel