News & Events
June 11, 2013 - Annual board meeting for the GSHS. Any member is invited.
Depression glassware minature
June 01, 2013 - The museum has on display the month of June miniature (child dishes) depression glassware replicas.
White settlers began moving
into western Page County in 1846, and by 1869 the area had five
settlements Binn’s Grove (1855), Tarkio City (1859), Franklin
Grove (1860), Union Grove (1861) and Wellsburg (1869).
Settlements were sparse, so when J.E. Noble settled just
southwest of modern Shenandoah in 1870, he had to travel to
Tarkio to pick up his mail and to Clarinda to trade.
The coming of the railroads was the largest single event
that affected the development of western Page County. The 1870s
was opened and closed by the construction of two railroad lines
in August 1870 the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company
(B&M) began operation, and in October 1879 the Council Bluffs &
St. Louis Railway (CB&StL) opened for traffic.
The railroads enabled large numbers of settlers to pour into
the area. Pioneers from the eastern U.S. and Swedish immigrants
quickly boosted western Page County’s population. Swedish
settlement here was largely due to Rev. Bengt Magnus Halland, a
Swedish Lutheran minister who worked as a land agent for the B&M
in the 1870s. At the end of 1870s, the CB&StL railroad between
Blanchard and Imogene brought a number of Irish immigrant
railroad laborers to the new town of Bingham, established in
1879. Our country’s eight western townships grew from a
population of 1477 in 1869 to 9141 in 1880.
The railroads developed 5 new towns during the 1870’s. The
first residents of the new towns were railroad workers, and the
railroad companies drafted the first town plats. The towns of
Shenandoah and Essex followed this pattern. The first resident
of Essex, Robert Bruce Wood, came with his wife in spring 1870
to serve as the first station agent for the B&M. Wood built the
town’s first house, and he opened the first post office (which
consisted of a cigar box in his home) in July 1870. In 1879 the
new towns of Bingham, Coin, and Blanchard were established by
the CB&StL railroad along their line.
The railroads made the shipping all sorts of supplies
easier, too. By 1872 Essex had become a major livestock and
grain shipping point on the B&M, and in 1879 Essex’s L.R.
Hastings & Sons imported the first West Scotch Highland cattle
to America via the railroad. The birth of the nursery industry
can be found in this decade and is partly due to the ease of
shipping by train. In 1870 D.S. Lake set out the first fruit
trees at his Shenandoah Nursery. By 1875 N.B. Easton was
operating a nursery east of Snow Hill. Mount Arbor Nurseries was
established in 1875 near Shenandoah, and in 1877 a young boy
named Henry Field sold his first seed packets from his home
south of that town.
During this decade 3 new towns grew up in western Page County
away from the rail lines. Founded in 1869, Nyman grew out of the
earlier Binn’s Grove settlement and was populated by Swedish
immigrants from Illinois. Snow Hill formed in 1872 around a
flourmill, and Walkerville was founded in 1874 as a trade center
Unfortunately the coming of the railroads led to the death
of several towns in our area during the 1870’s. Binn Grove had
been a stagecoach station, and it disappeared from the map as
soon as trains replaced stages. When CB&StL established Coin a
mile south of Snow Hill and platted Blanchard two miles
southeast of Wellsburg, the post offices, businesses and people
in the original settlements moved to the new railroad town.