Date: c. 1890
Description: This photo shows a station on Division Street of one of Sioux City’s greatest achievements: an elevated railroad. It was developed in 1890 by the Sioux City Rapid Transit Company as a means of connecting downtown with the new suburb of Morningside. Reaching the suburb required the crossing of the Floyd River, which was not possible for the streetcars of the time. So the company developed a railroad track that would go over the river instead of simply across it. It took the company a full year and nearly $600,000 (around $15.5 million today) to build. When it was complete the elevated portion rose 22 feet off the ground. The Downtown station was at 3rd and Jones Street, and from there the track ran over 3rd Street, turned at Division at the station shown here, crossed the river and went to the ground in Morningside. Fare cost was one nickel per ride or six rides for a quarter, and trains ran every half hour. It was the third elevated railroad in the nation, after New York and Kansas City. Originally it was steam powered, but plans were made after its completion to convert it to electric, which was accomplished in 1892. Thus Sioux City was the first city in the United States to have a fully electrified elevated railroad. Leading Chicago businessmen sent representatives to Sioux City to report on the design of the elevated railroad, and these designs greatly influenced Chicago’s own “L” train system. The elevated rail was key in bringing people and businesses to Morningside, helping the suburb develop and making it one of the major areas of Sioux City, which it remains today. There were plans to extend the rail to the Westside but the devastating financial crises of the later 1890s halted much of the city’s development. The Rapid Transit Company suffered heavy losses and eventually could no longer maintain the elevated rail. It was shut down and deconstructed in 1900.
Donor John Scheidt