The railroad was king, and southwest Iowa became part of the realm when the Burlington Railroad crossed the landscape from Mount Pleasant to Red Oak in 1867.
Chartered as a land grant railroad, the Burlington advertised and promoted the sale of sections along its route, attracting large numbers of eastern settlers and Swedish immigrants to southwest Iowa. Towns emerged along the route and, as the people of Manti learned, the future of the area depended on the railroad. Many of them moved their homes and businesses to a small settlement along the tracks, originally called Fair Oaks. This community was named Shenandoah when it was incorporated in 1871.
The Wabash Railroad from St. Louis reached the area in 1878, and many Irish railroad workers settled around Imogene. With the addition of the Humeston line from the east in 1882, Shenandoah became a railroad center. This railroad network set the stage for economical transportation of nursery and agricultural products all over the nation.
While railroad tracks still intersect Shenandoah, one of the old rail lines has become a path for people rather than a trail for trains. Volunteers converted the Wabash Railroad right-of-way into the Wabash Trace Nature Trail.
This 62-mile, multi-use trail from Council Bluffs to Blanchard features the beautiful Loess Hills, a land formation found only in southwest Iowa and northern China. People walk, jog, and bicycle along the Trace which includes the original Wabash Depot, located in Sportsman Park and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.