The route served as a diagonal railroad in an area otherwise dominated by a gridline rail network.
Due to the success, the route would be expanded in 1903. Another 133 miles would be built towards Council Bluffs, Iowa.
By 1905, the route had attracted a railroad to merge with. The Chicago Great Western Railway purchased the line to access the Missouri River town of Council Bluffs.
The line served as the quickest way between Mason City and Council Bluffs. In Fort Dodge, a massive high bridge was constructed over the Des Moines River.
This landmark continues to exist.
In 1968, the Chicago & North Western Railway purchased the Chicago Great Western. Because Chicago & North Western already operated a considerable amount of trackage through the area, several abandonments began.
The first abandonment stretched between Council Bluffs and Harlan, and occurred in 1971. Another major abandonment occurred in 1977, between Carroll and Somers.
Between 1981 and 1983, the route was trimmed between Harlan and Carroll. More modern abandonments have occurred between Thornton and Belmond in 2000, Mason City to Thornton in 2005 and Somers to Roelyn in 2008.
Presently, a segment of track from Belmond to Roelyn exists. This route is known as the Fort Dodge Subdivision.
In addition, rail trails have been built along the line in Carroll County and are planned in Cerro Gordo County.
Located in Meservey, this small stone arch bridge crosses an unnamed stream.
It is unknown when this bridge was built, although it was likely between 1898 and 1900. During this time, the CGW build hundreds of stone arches to replace trestle bridges. Many of these arches were very standardized, and built within only a few days. This structure is no exception.
Like most CGW arches, this one shows signs of wear and tear. It is unknown why CGW arches have a high rate of failure, but it may be related to the stone source. While not as severe as many others, the stones are beginning to loosen on the headwalls.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition. This arch is in better condition than most other CGW spans. At some point, this arch will become part of the Prairie Land Trail.
The author has ranked the bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design. In the early 2000s, Union Pacific resurveyed many lines in Iowa, leading to many bridges to change numbers just a few years before abandonment. For this reason, the original C&NW/CGW number and milepost are used in the name.
The photo above is an overview.