Dow City 1909 Rock Island caboose

The 1909 Rock Island Caboose in Dow City will serve as a photo backdrop at the Crawford County Historic Preservation Commission booth at the fair. Photo submitted

The Crawford County Historic Preservation Commission (CCHPC) is planning to tell about the development of area communities through the history of the railroad at the 2019 Crawford County Fair.

CCHPC members will decorate their booth in the Varied Industries Building with a variety of railroad-related items.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that most of the towns in Crawford County are here because of the railroads,” said Amy Pieper, CCHPC treasurer. “We’ll have a lot of information about the history of how the towns were formed.”

Trains had the single biggest effect on the development of Crawford County communities, she said.

For example, the community of Astor, located in the southeastern part of Crawford County, disappeared

from the map when the residents decided to move closer to the railroad.

“The town literally picked up their buildings and moved to Manilla,” Pieper said.

The booth will also feature information about railroad accidents that have happened in the county over the years.

One such story is of a man and his nephew, residents of Westside, who were killed at the same railroad crossing 40 years apart - in 1900 and 1940.

Other displays will feature information about railroad-related robberies.

Patrick Crowe, who grew up between Aspinwall and Vail, became an outlaw and train robber around the country in the late 1800s.

In 1893, Crowe and several others robbed the Northwestern Railroad Station in Denison.

He was eventually captured in Dow City.

The main railroad attraction at this year’s booth will be a photo backdrop.

“We’ll have a wall that looks like the end of a caboose,” Pieper said.

A photograph of the back of the 1909 Rock Island Caboose in Dow City has been turned into a poster by bluespace creative of Denison.

CCHPC Secretary Christy Rickers built a platform that will go in front of the poster to give a 3D effect, Pieper said.

Visitors may have their photos taken on what will appear to be the back of a train.

Other train hardware and props will be on hand.

A local resident is loaning the commission an electric train featuring lighted passenger cars.

Pieper said she would welcome additional railroad items for the fair.

She said the booth will be ready for the fair, but it still needs some work.

The March floods are still having an effect at the fairgrounds.

“The floor still has an inch of mud, so we have all kinds of cleaning to do,” Pieper said.

She expects to have the mud out and the displays in by this Sunday.

The 2019 Crawford County Fair starts next Wednesday, July 24.

Individuals interested in loaning railroad-related items to the CCHPC for the fair may contact Pieper at 712-263-3045.

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