Madrid Historical Museum
109 W. Second St.
Open 1st & 3rd Saturday's from 10:00AM to Noon or by appointment
795-3559, 795-3627 or 795-3990

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Cemeteries in Boone County


Brief History of the Local Mines, a Story of growing up in Madrid and along the Railroad Tracks
Brief History

1846 - The first settlers arrived and staked claim to the land

1852 - Anna Dalander recorded the plot of town as Swede Point on land she had obtained title too.

1857 - The name of the town was changed from Swede Point to Madrid.

1883 - The citizens of Madrid chose in an election on June 9 to incorporated.

Josephine Pagliai The Story of growing up in Early 1900's in Madrid Iowa Childhood Remembrances
Madrid Mine #7

Walk through a replica of an underground coal mine. Experience the enclosed feeling those men of the past must ahve felt as they toiled in the dark, dank mine tunnels. Many artifacts are on display from the local area mines.

Madrid Coal Field




The Madrid Coal fields were situated in the southern portion of Boone County and extended into northeastern Dallas County as well as northwest Polk County. Most of the mining however occurred along the Des Moines River in Boone and Dallas counties. Mining in the Madrid area before the 1880's was on a small scale with usually no more than three men working at a mine. Greatest production occurred usually in the fall and winter seasons, but tonnage varied with different seasonal periods.

During the 1930's and 1940's, many small mining operations, employing 10 men or less started again. Most of the mines were located along the Des Moines River and supplied coal for local people and businesses. The mines were similar to mines that operated in the late 1800's with the exception that gas engines replaced the steam and horse power in some of the mines.

Scandia Coal Company Mine Number One-was owned by the Carpenter Brothers in 1906 but at that time a shaft was driven into the "lower" horizon coal bed under the supervision of H. Zook. Scandia acquired the mineral rights for 1400 acres, marking the beginning of the, largest scale coal mining in the Madrid area. Operating under the room and pillar plan, a steam engine provided the power for the lifting elevator and ventilating fan. Coal was then shipped on a Spur line from the old Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad line between Madrid and Woodward. The mine was apparently abandoned in 1917.

The Zook Spur Mine - the Scandia Coal Company Mine Number Two - located one and one-half miles south of Madrid at Zookspur was opened in 1911 and was similar in operation to High Bridge and Scandia Number One except that it was equipped electrically. H. Zook was mine superintendent until 1917 when he was replaced by Owen Reese, son of W. J. Reese, who owned Reese Brothers Coal Mine at the turn Of the century. Coal from this mine was shipped to various parts of the state by means of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad, Boone branch.

Scandia Coal Company Mine Number Three-was opened in 1916 and was located one-quarter mile west of the J. R. Strange and Sons Coal Mine. H. Zook was also superintendent of this mine. Good quality coal was found in this mine; the latest of mining equipment was used and all foreseen great potential from this operation. Work at the mine halted in 1917 when the Des Moines River broke into one of the passageways and flooded the mine.

Scandia Coal Company Mine Number Four - was the largest mine in operation in terms of total tonnage produced, and was also the mine in operation the longest, lasting from 1916-1943. Located one-half mile south of the city limits of Madrid, Owen Reese served for 20 years as mine superintendent before C. T. Carny assumed the position. Electrically operated, the annual output of the mine was 250,000 short tons. Upon its closing in 1943, the mine still produced 67,000 tons of coal.

The High Bridge Mine - Reese Brothers Coal Company, High Bridge Company and Scandia Coal Company Number Five - Scandia Coal Company Number Five was owned by the Carpenter Brothers, purchased by the High Bridge Company- and renamed the Scandia Coal Company, Mine Number Five in 1926. Owen Reese served as mine superintendent until it was abandoned in 1931.


Eagle Mine - Scandia Coal Company Number Six - operated from 1926-1939. Located two miles east of Madrid on a spur track from the new Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad, the mine was operated electrically and used the room and pillar method of mining. The shaft was sunk by the Sayer Brothers of Des Moines and its average tonnage was 50,000 short tons.

Around l926 when the first #6 mine shaft was dug between Ed Hooks farm and (Monkey) John Peterson's farm east of Madrid, the hole filled with water a little so the crew went to eat their lunch, hoping the water would subside and they could continue. When they returned, the pit was half full of water and all their tools were under water. They had hit an underground river. When the water ran down into the mine shaft it picked up a lot of sulphur from the digging which turned the water to an ugly orange color. It ran into a tile line and into a creek. The creek ran through a nearby farmer's land. The farmer had mangy hogs but when the hogs wallowed or rooted in the muddy orange water in the creek, the mange healed up.

Later they dug another shaft further away from the first one until they found a vein of coal. They had been mining for some time and were about l/2 mile from the main shaft when they came to the Anton Larson farm where Noah Swanson and his family lived. The Swanson brothers had to haul water to the crew that was drilling down to the tunnels so they could keep the points of their drills cool.

They began to have more water problems so they dug down and put a pump in. The pump ran continually. They pumped it into a tile that ran into a creek.

In later years, the miners dug as far north as Fred Johnson's farm and Joe Sandberg's farm.

There was a lot of coal between Madrid and Slater but it couldn't be mined because there was no roof.

No. 6 mine and no. 4 shaft connected at Forslund's farm l/2 mile north of 2l0--north of what was Merrill Sundberg's horse corral at one time.

No. 4 mine didn't have enough air so an air shaft had to be dug and put in near Art Boyd's farm south, east and about another l/2 mile south of Madrid.

The man who did the dynamiting at No 6 lived next door to where Wilcox printing is now. (in l998) He would leave home at 2:00 p.m. Where the Noah Swanson family lived they would start feeling tremors and the house would shake at exactly 3:00 every working day. They said you could set your clock by it.

Driscoll/Blythe Mine - Located at the base a steep bluff four miles north of Madrid along the Des Moines River, this mine was apparently in existence for some time before it was included in a mine report in 1906.The second horizon (layer) of coal was worked, and it outcropped at nearly the same level as the water in the Des- Moines River. A tramway was built to haul the coal from the mouth of the mine to the top the bluff and the power was provided by a small steam engine. The slope was 100 feet long by 1907 and reached the three-foot average coal bed three feet beneath the river level. The mine does not appear after the 1907 report

Robert Porter Mine - drift mine operated one mile west of the Knox mine. in northern Cass township until 1894. This mine, along with the one owned by the Knox Brothers was one of the earliest in the area. Both mines were opened only during the winter months and employed about six men.

Wisecup Bank - A drift mine (almost horizontal passageway in a mine along a vein of coal, ore, etc,) located in the same area as the Driscoll mine. The passageway measured 300 feet by 1907 and a tramway system pulled by horses was used to haul coal from the mine to the top of the bluff. The mine apparently ceased operation by 1908.

Knox Brothers Mine - The Knox Brothers Mine or Knox Bank - located in the same vicinity as the Robert Porter Mine and Wisecup Bank existed as early as 1888.

The coal bed was exposed on the side of a bluff 75 feet above the Des Moines River with horses providing the necessary power to haul the loads up the bluffs. The name was changed to the William Knox Coal Company around 1900 and William Knox was named mine superintendent.

A new mine was opened shortly after and utilized the room and pillar plan of working. All coal was sold locally and the mines were apparently abandoned by 1907.


Lincoln and Sons Coal Mine

J. R. Strange and Sons Coal Mine - Tabor Shaft was the third: largest mining operation in the Madrid area around the turn of the century. Originally named the Tabor Shaft, the mine had a shaft depth of 43 feet and a coal bed average thickness of 2 1/2 feet. Using the longwall mining method, a furnace provided ventilation and horses were used in hauling coal. Fifteen men were employed during the winter months of 1899 and this was the last year of its operation. The J. R. Strange and Sons Coal Mine was located on the west side of the Des Moines River near Chestnut Ford, a mining town from 1885-1898, 2 1/2 miles southwest of Madrid.

Chestnut Valley Mine - owned and operated by Ole Olson was in operation from 1901-1904. A shaft mine of 112 feet deep, the coal bed was located one-half mile north of the Strange mine and worked the same coal bed. The drill for the Chestnut Valley mine was discovered a coal vein four feet thick at a depth of 171 feet, that became known as the "lower" horizontal coal bed of central Iowa, but coal was never exploited from this mine.

Carpenter Coal Company - This mine was the largest found in Dallas County in terms of coal tonnage at the turn of the century. It was the first shipping mine in Dallas County and was owned and operated by two Carpenter brothers. It was located on the old Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad between Madrid and Woodward and was one mile north of Scandia.

Like so many others, it was a shaft mine using the longwall plan of working and used steam power to ventilate the fan and raise the hoist. Mining at this particular mine lasted only from 1899-1900 but these same two brothers sank shafts under the trade name of Scandia Coal Company and it became the most influential mine in either Boone or Dallas counties.

Phillips Fuel Company - Phildia - The discovery of large amounts, of coal in the Madrid area around 1906 prompted several other companies to prospect here. Only one established a mining operation to exploit the coal field, which was the Phillip's Fuel Company of Ottumwa. A shaft was sunk one mile north of Scandia Mine Number One where a mining town was eventually formed called Phildia. Wallace Convey was superintendent of this mine while it was in operation from 1910-1915 and the methods of working were almost identical to the Scandia Mine Number One.

Dallas Fuel Company Cork Mine - located North of Madrid around 1900. Its exact location is not known but it was on the east side of the stream below the Ledges State Park. A shaft of 52 feet and the longwall plan of working were used in mining the coal. A furnace warmed the air at one end to provide a means of air circulation. All coal was sold to local residents



“Tracks of My Life”

The afternoon arrival of the Hiawatha in to Madrid
Courtesy of Stewart Buck

Connected passengers from Madrid to Boone
Courtesy of Stewart Buck

One of my earliest childhood memories takes me back to the cobalt blue skies of a summer’s twilight, as I drift off to sleep listening to the sound of my Dad’s big bands records. “Moonlight Serenade” “Solitude,” “Mood Indigo” and “Sentimental Journey” waft through the house, intermittently punctuated by another sound coming in through my bedroom window. It was the melodious call of steam locomotive whistles echoing through the valley and lingering in the gathering darkness. The reason trains had such a profound impact on me so early in my life was because of my Dad. He loved trains and he passed that passion on to me. Like the fireman who shovels coal to build up steam, Dad was the one who fueled my enthusiasm for trains.

A favorite childhood activity was Dad taking my two brothers and me to the Ames depot to watch the arrival of the westbound Challenger. While waiting for the streamliner, Dad would regale us with stories about great trains that ran through Ames, like the Gold Coast, the San Francisco Overland, the Los Angeles Limited, the Forty Niner, the Corn King, the Columbine, the Portland Rose, and the City of Denver. Dad described what it was like, as an impressionable young lad, to stand on the Ames depot platform watching the mighty steam locomotives, like his favorite Class H 4-8-4’s and the sleek 4-6-4 E-4 streamlined Hudsons, as they thundered away from Ames depot pulling flashy express trains.

Dad told us about the first diesel Streamliner, which began service in 1934. The train came through Ames westbound around 10:30 PM. The Streamliner had an airhorn instead of a steam whistle, so it was easy for him to tell it from the rest of the trains of that time. Although he lived a mile away from the mainline on Oakland Street, he could still follow the train’s progress by observing its vertical warning light. The light was used to alert motorists and could be seen shooting into the night sky as the train went westward towards Boone. He knew when the train went under what is now called the Minnesota Avenue overpass (directly north of his house), because the light was momentarily snuffed out as the train passed under the bridge.

He also would tell us about his Mom taking him to Ames’ western suburb of Ontario to watch westbound freight trains as they thundered up College Hill, heaving a volcanic pillar of smoke into the sky. As a child, he was both enthralled and terrified as the passing locomotive would shake the earth and leave a shower of soot and cinders dropping to his feet.

When Dad was ten years old, his passion for trains blossomed when he received from his father a standard gauge American Flyer electric train with a locomotive and four passenger cars. He assembled the train in the attic of his home by nailing the tracks down to the hardwood floor. A little less than twenty years later, he purchased the first American Flyer train for his sons. He constructed a train table from two sheets of 4 x 8 plywood and from there grew the little town of Plasticville, where miniature trains puffed and whistled all day long. Over the years, the little town of Plasticville grew, as did the interest Dad and I shared.

One of Dad’s favorite times to view trains was while serving as a captain in military service, providing dental care at the Strategic Air Command’s Air Force Base in Amarillo, Texas. There he was able to spend his weekends at the Santa Fe depot, where he observed monstrous 2-10-4’s and 4-8-4’s, as well as the striking warbonnet F-units and Alco PA’s that pulled ATSF’s famous stainless steel passenger trains. At the military base, he developed a new interest in jet airplanes. There he observed both the T-33 T-Birds and the new high-altitude subsonic bombers, the B-47 Stratojets. One of the big thrills of Dad’s life was the opportunity to a ride on one of the six engine B-47’s. He never forgot that experience and when he reached his mid-50’s, he became pilot. While Dad was getting hours of flight time to obtain his private license, he and I would railfan by flying over various railroad yards and following rail lines.

Indelibly etched in Dad’s mind was an exhilarating trip he took on Chicago and North Western’s steam powered 400. He was awestruck by its speed, especially how it rocketed out of Chicago and within minutes was pushing the century mark. He spent lots of time riding trains when he traveled between Ames and Iowa City, where he was attending Dentistry School at the University of Iowa. He would usually take the Eagle Grove to Des Moines train out of Ames to the C&NW’s depot on the east side of the river in downtown Des Moines. The train usually consisted of three or four heavyweight coaches pulled by a Class D Atlantic. He would walk several blocks to the Rock Island depot, and catch whatever convenient train he could to Iowa City. If he was lucky, it would be one of the Rockets. On the way back from Iowa City, he would usually take the CRANDIC interurban to downtown Cedar Rapids. It would drop him off just a short distance from the C&NW depot. There he’d try to catch one of the City Streamliners for Ames. Quite often, there wasn’t a coach seat for him, so the conductor would send him to one of the club cars. His favorite was the Frontier Shack on the City of Denver. The interior of the Frontier Shack was unfinished pine boards, with the floor made of unmatched scrub oak. It had kerosene lamps, a mahogany bar, mounted animal heads, rifles, horn racks, old posters, and period maple furniture. Passengers were encouraged to carve their initials into the tables, which Dad did. Many years later, when I was very young, our family rode into Chicago on the City of Denver. Train #112 still had the Frontier Shack in it’s consist and Dad was quite amazed to see his initials were still visible in the table.

Dad and I spent spend countless hours walking along railroad together. Like the tracks we walked on, Dad provided me with a rock solid foundation to guide me through life. He provided the “tracks of my life.” Like the train-whistle echoing through the valley, Dad’s gentle guiding spirit and memory will linger on in me forever.

Madrid has had a history of trains and mining.
The sounds of the great engines has long passed as have the tracks and train station in the last decade.

We thank Mr. Buck for his story of a father and son's love for trains and how that story could have taken place in Madrid.

William M. Buck

September 24, 1924 - March 29, 2007