Excerpt from The Heritage of Blue Earth County by Julie Schrader, Topic 26, available in the Research & Genealogy Center.
“Steamboat service was the main means of transportation for Mankato in 1868 as the Minnesota Valley Railroad and the Winona and St. Peter Railroad inched their ways to the city. The Minnesota Valley Railroad was coming for the Twin Cities and the Winona and St. Peter road was coming from the east.
“Railroads asked for financial help more than once from the residents and received it, much in the same way as they now pass bond issues for community betterment. This was not unusual on the part of the railroads. Beset by financial difficulties connected to legislative restrictions on state loans to the railroads, the lines turned to local communities for help. The communities, eager for service, did their part.
“Early in 1868, the Minnesota Valley Railroad made a proposition to complete the railway into Mankato by December 1 of that year if a bonus of $15,000 in bonds, a right-of-way over Fourth Street and depot grounds between Plum and Elm were given it. City residents voted on the proposition on June 3, 1868, and carried it 423 to 142. The city was in favor of having the line come in along the present route nearer the Minnesota River, but the railroad was against it because of the additional expense, some $34,000, to put in a proper grade along the river. Fourth Street was actually a second choice, but it is the once the railroad decided on.
“Between 500 and 600 men were working between Kasota and Mankato that summer grading and laying ties. The railroad not only lived up to its end of the bargain of a December 1st deadline, but it came early to boot. On October 3, 1868, the Minnesota Valley Railroad, to become known as the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha, completed its line into Mankato.”