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DeShon Chapter NSDAR
Boone, Iowa

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Local History

Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace
Dragoon Trail in Boone County
Cole School

The city of Boone grew up when the railroads arrived in the 1800s. Trains are still rumbling through Boone (about 70 a day).  The Kate Shelley High Bridge carries the mainline of the Union Pacific Railroad over the Des Moines River Valley west of Boone. This bridge is the longest and highest double-track bridge in the world, and was finished in 1901. The bridge is located 3 1/2 miles northwest of Boone. Visitors can reach the bridge by heading north on Marion Street to 198th Road, and taking a left turn onto the blacktop road to the bridge. This bridge is named for Kate Shelley, a 15-year-old girl.  During a terrible rain storm the night of July 6, 1818, Kate crawled across the bridge to warn an oncoming passenger train to stop. Thus doing, she saved many passenger deaths.


The construction on the railroad, operated by Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, was begun in 1893. Fraser had just become the center of the newly-discovered coal deposits and transportation was needed to move the coal. A line was built about 4 miles to the west from Fraser to connect with another railroad at Fraser Junction, which is now called Wolf.

Railroads were expanding rapidly in those days and they built north to Gowrie and Rockwell City for connections with other railroads. The line underwent several name changes, management, and goals.  By 1907 the railroad reached Fort Dodge and Des Moines, the line was electrified, and interurban cars were operational.

 At its peak, electric cars were operated on an hourly basis. As automobiles became numerous, passenger service was cut back, but the line continued to push freight business. With the increase in gypsum mills, sewer pipe, and drain tile, freight business flourished, especially in the Fort Dodge area.

The last interurban cars were operated in September of 1955, electric lines were removed, and diesel engines handled the freight business. In 1968 the Chicago & North Western purchased the entire line. Shortly thereafter, portions of the line were discontinued, but they did continue serving some grain elevators and shippers with freight service until 1983.

A group in Boone formed the "Boone Railroad Historical Society."  They purchased 11.3 miles of track, including the bridges, in order that this scenic portion of the line might be preserved. The first trip handling passengers was made in November 1983. Tickets were sold out of a tent for rides out onto the high bridge.

In 1984, work was begun on the present depot, which was dedicated in 1985. Other buildings have been acquired, along with additional equipment which is being restored, as funds become available.


restored school

School House Restoration

Cole School is a brick one-room schoolhouse that held classes from 1888-1933. This schoolhouse near Boone is only one of three brick schoolhouses left in Iowa. It is a unique structure made of three layers of brick manufactured in the area. Before restoration began, it was crumbling and in need of serious attention:  the brick has been repaired and re-pointed, the limestone foundation resurfaced, a new cedar-shingle roof has been installed, window sills and a door step set in place, and electricity run to the building.  Six windows and the doors were replaced, an inside vestibule was built, and a new floor layed.Cole School print

Cole School is owned and operated by DeShon Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution.  Since 2006, DeShon Chapter has partnered with the Boone Community School District in fundraising efforts to restore the school.

To the right is a painting of Cole School by J.D. Speltz.  The prints were used as a fundraiser by the chapter.

mamie birthplace

Mamie Doud Eisenhower House

The town of Boone is also known for being the birthplace of Mamie Doud Eisenhower.  The home where she was born is located at 709 Carroll Street, Boone, Iowa. Mamie Doud was born in Boone, Iowa, November 14, 1896, and lived there for nine months with her parents, John and Elivera (Carlson) Doud.  Eisenhower markerOn July 1, 1916, she married Lt. Dwight D. Eisenhower - the same day he was promoted to First Lieutenant in the Army. After an illustrious Army career through World War II, Eisenhower was elected the 34th President of the United States and Mamie became First Lady. Mrs. Eisenhower's restored birthplace has an inscribed historical marker placed in the yard by the DeShon Chapter DAR on November 2, 1954.

To drive there, you would proceed north from Highway 30 on Story Street to 8th Street, then proceed west four blocks to Carroll Street, and then 1/2 block south.  For more information on the birthplace of Mamie Doud Eisenhower, contact the museum at 515-432-1896.

trail marker

Dragoon Trail in Boone County

The Dragoon Trail stretched from the Missouri line to the northern Iowa border as the first U.S. Dragoons under Colonel Stephen W. Kearney followed their assignment of exploring and mapping the state of Iowa in the mid-1830s. Boone was one of the Iowa towns on the Dragoon Trail route. On June 14, 1938, the Iowa Society DAR dedicated and placed an inscribed historical marker on a boulder to mark the trail.

The marker is located on Division Street.  From Highway 30, turn north on Story Street and continue north to Mamie Eisenhower Avenue.  Turn left (west) and drive nine blocks to Division Street where you will see the marker in a grass triangle.