Rails vs Trails!
Manning has both!!!
I get frustrated at how big media gives big city life all of the press and that they have no clue that there is a VAST area of this great country that is rural and has small populated towns, but we do BIG things too, and much of the time without taking a hand-out from the US government.

I saw a video clip on TV about Dallas County, Iowa, as the fastest growing area in Iowa and more specifically in Waukee, Iowa.

Now that is great, and good for them, but when I saw one of the highlighted areas in Waukee, I thought - HA! Manning not only has trails but it also still has the railroad, and all they can do in Waukee is to promote and celebrate their Milwaukee railroad HISTORY, which once was part of the GREAT rail system in the US and still goes through Manning.
I'd rather have an active railroad system that connects the towns of the area (as opposed to being connected by a trail system like the Raccoon trail claim to fame) and then have the trails as a secondary aspect of life, like we do here in Manning.

Fortunately Manning had people such as Orland Fara and Ivan Opperman years ago who formed a consortium with businessmen in area towns who were served by the Milwaukee RR.
They purchased part of the Milwaukee from Bayard and back this way to Manning and on south to Council Bluffs...Orland invested $50.000 of his own money into the consortium.

The Fara & Kusel families go way back to when the Fara family moved to Manning after purchasing the Manning Mill in 1966...my dad, Amos, and Orland became instant friends and over the years dad helped Orland with renovation and other projects.
At one time after concerns the Northwestern would abandon the tracks through Manning, Orland approached us about purchasing some of our farm land so he could build a spur from the lower level and up to the Milwaukee tracks.
Then when the Milwaukee RR declared bankruptcy, one thought Orland had was to purchase the trestle bridge and then use it as an unloading area overhead and down to trucks or the tracks below...Orland was an amazing person who was always working toward the future for both his business and the Manning community.

2012 view in Manning

2019 view where you can now see part of the new trail system.

In the 2012 view above you can still see the Manning Ag Center facility. I wonder if someday we'll have wished we had tried a lot harder to save this grain handling business?
I've always said that if Dean Fara had not passed away so young that he would have carried on the business after his parents retired from it...but this is all "water under the trestle bridge" now...

Fortunately, because of Orland and the consortium's insight years ago, the current BNSF rail is able to serve the AGP soybean processing plant in Manning.

AGP in Manning

Then as we go east the BNSF serves the Templeton Coop.

The other major facility that is served by the BNSF where many Manning farmers and businessmen have an investment is at the POET ethanol plant in Coon Rapids.

The Raccoon River Valley Trail which the old Milwaukee RR right of way was converted to ends at Herndon on the west end and then heads back east to Waukee and eventually into Des Moines.
These next two images show the west edge of the trail at Herndon and the second image in Waukee.

Western most edge of the Raccoon trail

Waukee, Iowa, where the subject of this story began.

Des Moines Register article

Waukee Railroad Pergola


Will our rail service in Manning survive?
OR will it be turned into another TRAIL system???

There are a lot of environmental and political individuals and groups who want to curb and even end a number of aspects with agriculture.
You've probably heard of the ludicrous methane argument about cattle...I won't go into why I say this because way too many people have made up their unscientific minds, BUT I want to voice my concerns with these groups and individuals and their endless attacks on rural America and the farmer.
Ever hear of PETA and the Vegan movement?
Then a number of politicians want to drastically curb and then end the use of fossil fuels...What is going to happen to the ethanol plants???
If much of the livestock industry is ended what is going to happen to our Soybean processing plant?

If the ethanol plant in Coon Rapids closes and AGP closes in Manning, what do you think is going to happen to the area economies?
What is going to happen to the railroad?

What about the farmers? What is their future?

Some people will just poo poo my comments or just ignore them as nutty.

I've lived long enough to know that when politicians say they are going to take away something from us or force something on us, they mean it...and when enough radicals gain more power over time they'll do their best to destroy our society.
Rural America is quickly becoming outnumbered in population...it pretty much is already here.

Sit back and do nothing and keep voting for those who want to control us from cradle to grave and if that is what you want, you'll probably get your wish.

It sure won't be the America our ancestors lived in - who worked hard and died for to create, and defend against so many enemies both foreign and domestic.

Remember: Manning had 3 railroads service the community, the Northwestern, Milwaukee, and Great Western...now we are down to one railroad, so losing our infrastructure is much easier than adding to it.

I ran across this picture postcard about 20 years ago, before I realized that I need to make folders with the names of the sources of where I got historical stuff to scan.
Sadly, more than likely, whoever had this postcard has passed away and this historical image was thrown away by those who inherited their stuff...I'd sure like to get this postcard to rescan it in super high resolution - maybe someday I'll run across another one or someone will come foward with one and let me scan it.

Northwestern on the right, Great Western left, and Milwaukee to the north.

October 2003

The Milwaukee Elevator, owned by A.H. Wernimont & Co., caught fire from an unknown cause at 8:45 p.m. March 23, 1928, and was destroyed. J.A. Bruck had 8000 bushels of corn and 2400 bushels of oats stored there. Part of three cars of feed stored was hauled out. The Carroll fire department and firemen from Gray helped confine the fire away from the F.D. Ross gasoline storage tanks.

Art Rix told me during one of my many conversations I had with him that he was coming back home from college at Iowa for the weekend when he saw the bright lights & smoke in the distance so he drove to the scene and watched the elevator burn to the ground.

Note the Milwaukee elevator on the right

October 14, 2016
In the mid-1960s the Milwaukee did a major tie replacement and they slid the used ones down the banks. These ties were in relatively good shape and anyone who wanted them could have them. My dad, who always liked to recycle and resell things, decided to gather a lot of those ties in the Manning area so my brothers and I did the lifting and dragging to the hayrack.
Then we took them to the farm and put them in piles. We sold ties for years and dad used some of them for corner and brace posts in our own fences. Needless to say, handling these ties was a lot of heavy work...not to mention the creosote that would burn your skin.

April 2006 - minor tie replacement and checking/replacing spikes.

The reason the bridge is here is because the Northwestern was the first railroad to come through Manning. Then a year later the Milwaukee came through so they had to build the bridge to span the 100 feet right of way of the Northwestern.
Before Railroad Street was extended under this bridge, we owned the land to a point under the bridge. It was part of the original Northwestern Right of way and was purchased by the landowner when that track was abandoned in 1937.

October 2002 - you can see our JD 4630 and auger cart heading out into our field on the north side.
There were double tracks through Manning to carry the extra load of passenger trains.
You can see the south side tracks were abandoned which was sometime after the mid-1960s.

Hiawatha passenger train in the distance. It sped through Manning at nearly 100 MPH!
You can see the underpass on West Street that has since been filled in and traffic crosses the tracks today.
Scanned from the Dick Dammann collection.

2016 view of the AGP soybean plant to the northwest.

2020 - tanker cars full of soybean oil
November 30, 2020, box cars loaded with soybean meal in the distance.

Freedom is a main part of the theme of this feature and below further expands on what FREEDOM is in the USA.

Freedom Year 1948

So many amazing and unique events have occurred in Manning, especially because of its rail service.
In 1975, Manning had the unique honor of having the US Bicentennial Freedom Train travel through town and across the famous and very historically important trestle bridge...a bridge that carried troop and military trains during WWI & WWII, and was considered so important that it could be a possible target by Japanese or German enemies, so it was guarded during WWII.

US Bicentennial train September 15, 1975, traveling under the East Street bridge.
Photo by William F. Ohde

Melvin Kusel waving his hat.

I rode with my Uncle Melvin to the sidetracks to watch the train go by.
Before it got here he gave me a penny to place on the tracks to get smashed - a way to remember this event.
I still have this smashed penny.

Unfortunately scanning prints from my Kodak 110 camera are not as sharp as the professional cameras and photo paper of that time...or the digital cameras of today.
As I look at this picture, I think that might be Warren Timmerman closest to the camera, and it could be Walter Felker in the red clothes.

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