Valley Junction Historical Marker – West Des Moines, IA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member wildernessmama
N 41° 34.182 W 093° 42.487
15T E 440961 N 4602244
Quick Description: Historic Valley Junction has a story to tell, and it’s recorded on a timeline on this historical plaque at the shelter house next to the caboose.
Location: Iowa, United States
Date Posted: 5/26/2011 4:04:57 PM
Waymark Code: WMBJGZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member muddawber
Views: 2

Long Description:
Historic Valley Junction has a story to tell, and it’s recorded on a timeline on this historical plaque at the shelter house next to the caboose. The text reads:

October 1842 – Land is transferred to the United States
1845 – Iowa opened for homesteaders
Spring of 1846 – First settlers moved into Walnut Township, future site of West Des Moines
1849 – Church services began in the Jordan log cabin home; James Jordan gave the township its first log school building
1854 – Underground railroad established
1868 – Des Moines Valley Railroad Company built the grade through Valley Junction
1887 – Post office chartered and built on the west side of 5th Street in the 200 block
1891 – Rock Island Railroad moves railroad shop and roundhouse from Stuart to Valley Junction
1892 – Rock Island roundhouse completed, Valley Junction designated as terminal division station
1893 – Valley Junction Independent School District established
1894 – First jail built on south end of 8th Street
1895 – First established high school started with a 9th grade class
1901 – First National Bank opened, City Hall and Fire Station built at 137 5th Street
1902 – Keystone Coal Mine was started
1905 – First Fire Department established, Valley High School accredited
1915 – Wooden race track built
1920 – First letter carrier hired
1934 – First library established in home of Marge Herron at 504 6th Street
1936 – Rock Island moved railroad yards out of Valley Junction
1938 – City’s name changed to West Des Moines
1943 – West Des Moines Public Library founded at 314 5th Street
1973 – Jordan House placed on the National Register of Historic Places
1993 – West Des Moines celebrates its 100th Anniversary, West Des Moines Historical Society moves into Jordan house, Flooding that summer engulfs Valley Junction
2007 - City of West Des Moines acquires the original City Hall from private ownership

In 1846, Valley Junction’s first settler, James C, Jordan, pitched a tent on the western side of the Des Moines border where he later built a house. This home became a stop on the “Underground Railroad.” Aside from having a strong sense of moral values, Jordan was also active politically, serving as a county supervisor, and both a state senator and representative.

Valley Junction experienced a major economic boom between 1891 and 1896. Until the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad moved its roundhouse, switching yards and repair shops from Stuart to Valley Junction, the area had primarily been a community of coal miners. With the news of the railroad’s move into the area, several area businesses formed the Hawkeye Investment Company and purchased 40 acres of land east of 8th Street and a “downtown” was born.

By 1893, Valley Junction bustled with horse-drawn traffic, a trolley line, eight-foot-wide wooden sidewalks, and dirt streets lined with three banks, three drug stores, and several “boarding houses” of questionable character. The railroad had made Valley Junction a popular stop where 26 passenger trains arrived and departed daily. As the boom continued and new citizens arrived, the community added many houses, two new schools, four organized churches, and a newspaper.

Today, the charming past is still thriving in Valley Junction. Visitors can enjoy more than 150 speciality stores, art galleries, fashion boutiques, restaurants, and antique shops, each with a unique historical character.
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