Sod and Stubble: The Story of a Kansas Homestead

By John Ise | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
The Coming of the Railroad

W ITH the coming of the railroad in eighteen seventy-nine, a new town, named Downsville -- after one of the railroad officials, and later changed to Downs -- was built only three miles away. Like everyone else along the line of the new road, Henry and Rosie had mildly hoped that their place might be made the site of the new town -- they already had the post office -- but the railroad company owned half of the land three miles east, and put the town there. It was fine anyhow, to have a town and railroad so near, after years of driving sixty miles or more to Russell, Hastings or Waterville, with every load of wheat or corn or hogs; and on the day when the first train was to arrive, Henry and Rosie went to town. It was a noisy and expectant crowd that stood about the station awaiting the coming of the train; and when the great engine rounded the curve and whistled its way slowly into town, Rosie heard a woman behind her exclaim, "Mine eyes have seen the coming of the Lord!" Soon afterward Henry received orders to turn the mail over to the new postmaster at Downs. For a while he and Rosie felt rather lonely without their mail business; but with three little children to care for -- there was another baby now -- they found quite enough to do.

On the last day of May -- a still, sultry afternoon -- a dark blue bank of clouds loomed up in the west -- the usual afternoon rain promise of the prairie country. Rosie was too busy with her ironing to pay much attention to it, until she heard the rumble of thunder and noticed that the room was turning darker -- so dark that she could not see clearly. She opened the door for more light, and looking out, saw above the cottonwood grove a mighty cloud drama that for a moment almost

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