Town Sign Project: Marshall County

I recently drove around Marshall County to harvest all the town signs there that I am missing. One of the things I like to do is visit any historical markers that are on my journey. If I know of a particularly interesting (or in this case tragic) historical marker that isn’t on my way, I will go out of my way to visit such a historical marker. One of these is in Marshall County. It is the site of the Green Mountain Train Wreck. The worst railroad tragedy in Iowa history. 52 people were killed and another 39 injured.

Here is the historical marker to mark the site of this tragedy:


Greatest Iowa Railroad Tragedy

Greatest Iowa Railroad Tragedy

Here is more information from Wikipedia on the tragedy:

The Green Mountain train wreck is the worst ever railroad accident in the state of Iowa, USA. It occurred between Green Mountain and Gladbrook on the morning of March 21, 1910, and killed 52 people.

A train wreck earlier that morning at Shellsburg meant that the Rock Island Line trains were being diverted from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo over Chicago Great Western tracks via Marshalltown. The trains concerned were the No. 21 St Louis-Twin Cities and No. 19 Chicago-Twin Cities; which had been combined into a ten car train with the two locomotives travelling backwards, tender first. The new combined train now had two wooden cars sandwiched between the locomotives, a steel Pullman car, and other steel cars.

Between Green Mountain and Gladbrook, just east of the Marshall County border, the lead engine left the tracks and hit a clay embankment coming to a sudden stop. The steel cars sliced through the two wooden coaches: a smoking car and a ladies’ day coach containing many children. There were no fatalities in the Pullman cars. One of the uninjured passengers said, “I saw women in the coach crushed into a bleeding mass, their bodies twisted out of human shape. I have seen what I shall see all my life when I dream.” A relief train arrived two hours after the accident. It was later reported, “The sight was one of horribly crushed, mutilated, and dismembered bodies.”

Here is a picture of the wreck I found on a website called Cardboard America:


Green Mountain Train Wreck

The railroad tracks themselves no longer exist. My best research says that the tracks were abandoned in the 1980s. I haven’t seen any documentation on when the tracks were removed. But enough sadness. Here is a look at the Marshall County Photo Map:


Marshall County Photo Map
Marshall County Photo Map

And with Marshall County completed, this is what the Photography 139 Conquest Map looks like:


Town Sign Project - 8 Counties
PURPLE=COMPLETED

Here are the town signs of Marshall County:


Marshalltown, Iowa
Marshalltown, Iowa
Marshalltown Welcomes You
Population: 27,552

State Center, Iowa
State Center, Iowa
Rose Capital of Iowa
Population: 1,468

Melbourne, Iowa
Melbourne, Iowa
Welcome to the City of Melbourne – Established 1882
Population: 830

Welcome to Le Grand
Le Grand, Iowa (Partially in Tama County)
Welcome to Le Grand
Population: 938

Gilman, Iowa
Gilman, Iowa
Welcome to Gilman – Established 1876
Population: 509

Albion, Iowa
Albion, Iowa
Welcome to Albion – Established 1852
Population: 505

Rhodes, Iowa
Rhodes, Iowa
Welcome to Rhodes – Established 1883
Population: 305

Liscomb, Iowa
Liscomb, Iowa
Liscomb – Just a Little Street Where Old Friends Meet – Est. 1873
Population: 301

Laurel, Iowa
Laurel, Iowa
Laurel – A Place to Know. A Place to Grow
Population: 239

Haverhill, Iowa
Haverhill, Iowa
Welcome to Haverhill – A good place to visit… A great place to call home!
Population: 173

Clemons, Iowa
Clemons, Iowa
Welcome to Clemons – Size of a dime – Heart of a dollar
Population: 148

Green Mountain, Iowa
Green Mountain, Iowa (Census Designated Place)
Green Mountain
Population: 126

Ferguson, Iowa
Ferguson, Iowa
Ferguson
Population: 126

St. Anthony, Iowa
St. Anthony, Iowa
Welcome to St. Anthony – “Pinhook” Est. 1882 – Pride in Our Past. Faith in Our Future.
Population: 102

Marshall County is a very solid county for town signs. I don’t that they have any I necessarily hate. Towns like Ferguson really only had an old railroad depot sign hanging up to designate their town. A lot of towns had those old railroad depot signs hanging up. It was actually pretty impressive. That being said, since that is all Ferguson had and Green Mountain isn’t technically a town any longer, I’ll give Ferguson the worst town sign award. Although Le Grand really pushes for last place as well.

But who gets Best in Show. There are some strong contenders, I really like the signs in Laurel, Liscomb, and Rhodes. For a corporate looking sign, State Center’s sign is pretty okay. But Best in Show has to go to Haverhill:


Haverhill, Iowa
Haverhill – Best in Show Marshall County

Time for the BENNETT TOWN SIGN POWER RANKINGS.


Badger, Iowa
#10. Badger

Granger, Iowa
#9. Granger

Scranton, Iowa
#8. Scranton

Boone, Iowa
#7. Boone

Liscomb, Iowa
#6. Liscomb

Dexter, Iowa
#5. Dexter

Haverhill, Iowa
#4. Haverhill

Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - East Side
#3. Farnhamville

Pilot Mound, Iowa
#2. Pilot Mound

Moingona, Iowa
#1. Moingona

I’ve also decided to reconsider how I do Best in Show for each county. I’ve decide that a town is only eligible for Best in Show for a county if they are either mostly in that county or if they are evenly split among more than one county. Therefore, these are the altered BEST IN SHOW winners:


Moingona, Iowa
Best in Show – Boone County

Scranton, Iowa
Best in Show – Greene County

Collins, Iowa
Best in Show – Story County

Stanhope, Iowa
Best in Show – Hamilton County

Badger, Iowa
Best in Show – Webster County

Dexter, Iowa
Best in Show – Dallas County

Bondurant, Iowa
Best in Show – Polk County

Haverhill, Iowa
Best in Show – Marshall County

Next time we visit THE TOWN SIGN PROJECT, we will visit Carroll County.

4 thoughts on “Town Sign Project: Marshall County”

  1. Sleeper here – I actually really like the whole retro vibe the Marshalltown one has. I mean, my living room area is definitely retro, so it meets my particular interests, but I didn’t expect them to have a fun sign. I expected it to be bricks.

    I’ve never heard of the Green Mountain train wreck – that’s sad, but fascinating. I wish that “Iowa history” classes in fourth and fifth grade went more into stuff like this.

  2. Marshalltown does have a better sign than I expected or remembered. I would say they have the best sign for towns over the size of 20,000, so far. And it isn’t that close.

    SPOILER: Next week there will be a new #1 in the Power Rankings.

    I’m sad I haven’t heard from Shannon yet on whether or not she was able to predict the Marshall County winner, but I really think this one was super easy to pick.

    It is one of those things, like the Titanic, where you just have to wonder what they were thinking.

    “Hey lets put wood train cars, filled with mostly women and children, between steel cars. What is the worst that could happen?”

    I kind of stumbled upon that while aimlessly clicking through Wikipedia pages. I’d like to find a website with a definitive list of Historical Markers. But I haven’t really found that.

    The Iowa Historical Society has one, but it is less than comprehensive and the website looks like it was designed in 1996.

  3. It’s for sure the best of the “big” towns you’ve posted. I dig a good 60s/70s vibe. I think the interior of High Life Lounge is delightful, even though I’ve only been in there twice and don’t want to really sit on anything. (Mostly because bars are largely disgusting.) I can’t wait to see the new #1 – I have high hopes for the sign from Mount Carmel. Because there’s so much opportunity there.

    I knew straight out of the gate which would be your favorite for Marshall County – I bet Shannon calls it! It was a solid county, though, so I bet ranking the other slots was not easy.

    Yeah, the only thing worse you could have done is filled those wood cars with explosives and fireplaces in addition to the children and women. It really was pretty foreseeable.

    I hope that your blog becomes sort of an Iowa history site eventually – the postcard recreation, the town signs, all of it would be really interesting for the Iowa Historical Society. I’m not exactly shocked that their website is archaic – we love walking the kids through the State Historical Building, but it’s not like they’re changing things up a lot there each time. The Ames Historical Society’s page is better than you would expect – a friend encouraged me to send some COVID photos I took in March to them, so I did. Not sure that they’ll actually do anything with them, but they said they were adding them to the archives.

  4. You mean Mount Carmel in Carroll County? I do have a sign picture from there, but technically it isn’t a town. In fact, it isn’t even really an unincorporated town or a census designated place. I don’t even know what it is. It is almost like it doesn’t exist, only I’ve been there.

    But the sign should read, “Welcome to Mt. Carmel, but not that Mount Carmel”. Then the picture should be of the Branch Davidians compound on fire. Just spitballing here.

    Shannon still hasn’t called it. So very sad. So very, very sad.

    Yeah, that reminds me that I need to get on joining the Boone County Historical Society now that their reputation has been returned.

    I know the Ames Historical Society as a pretty incredible photo archive. I don’t know that Boone has anything like that. It definitely isn’t online, like the Falwell Brown Collection or whomever is. Or at least I remember it being. Grinnell, the college, seems to have a real good historical photograph archive.

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