Welcome to Marceline! You are about to embark on an interactive journey based on published works along with the vivid memories of citizens past and present. We hope that your visit with us today is both enjoyable and enlightening.
It has been said that the decade from 1880 to 1890 will go down as the greatest ten years of railroad construction in American history. Total railway mileage in the nation grew by leaps and bounds to a total of 160,000 miles. And the City of Marceline was founded in the midst of this phenomenal growth.
Before there was a Marceline, this area was a beautiful rolling prairie dotted with farms and grazing cattle in a region of Linn County known as Yellow Creek. One day in 1886 the farmers woke up to the bustling activity of strangers from the Santa Fe Railroad. They offered good prices for land and got signed contracts.
The civil engineer with his rodmen, chain bearers, and transitmen hit the ground running. Preliminary surveys for the Chicago, Santa Fe, and California Railroad were created to become part of the of the great Santa Fe system. Construction work began on the new line, and in 1887 the Missouri division point was platted before the end of the year. On January 28 the first town lot was sold in the city of Marceline. The city was incorporated on March 6, 1888.
Marceline received it’s name, of Spanish origin, through the request of one of the Santa Fe directors of the new road. The name of the wife of this official was “Marcelina” and as a courtesy to her, the town was named Marceline.
The city soon took on all the appearances of boomtown cities all across the west and started out as a tent city. Following the construction gangs who were building the railroad line came the usual boomers. The atmosphere of the town was one of energy and hustle. Business houses and residences rose like magic from the corn and wheat stubble the year before. Streets were named after railroad officials, founding fathers, and even one of their children. With the railroad came local coal mining to drive the wheels of commerce.
And so the new town grew. Marceline grew so rapidly that 6 months after the first lot was sold it boasted a population of 2,500. With the growth came churches, doctors, schools, public services, and everything else necessary for a thriving community.
THIS is the city you are preparing to explore. You’ll see fascinating structures and sites along a description of their history. And if a train goes by, close your eyes and you’ll be able to picture yourself in Marceline in the 1890s.
Have a great visit!