The newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series is West Des Moines and Valley Junction by local author Craig S. McCue and the West Des Moines Historical Society. The book boasts more than 200 vintage images showcasing the history and character of the city through the eyes of its citizens.
In 1867, James Jordan, one of the first European settlers in the area, agreed to donate land and plat a small town in exchange for a railroad spur to serve his cattle operation. Jordan’s business prospered as did the railroads and with them the town, which became known as Valley Junction. In 1891, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad decided to relocate its engine shops from East Des Moines to the growing community that was now on the main line. Prosperity turned to bust when the rail yards moved out during the Depression, and the city renamed itself West Des Moines to invite a more stable population.
The community bonded together during the war years, and when the interstate came, the city grew outward as a hub of retail commerce and transportation. Now a financial center in its own right, West Des Moines hosts several Fortune 500 headquarters and is a magnet for the best and brightest entrepreneurs in the state.
McCue hopes the book will “honor those early pioneers of the city, who, through their character, courage and perseverance, built a foundation for the community we enjoy today.”
Highlights of West Des Moines and Valley Junction:
• The book covers the history of West Des Moines beginning with Pioneer times, through the years as Valley Junction and up to present day.
• Several chapters relate the story of the city’s evolution from a farming community to a railroad hub, its growth as a suburb of Des Moines, and its transformation into a financial hub.
• Other chapters of regional interest are related to the heyday of the railroads in the Des Moines area, the impact of the Depression and War of Iowa communities, and the construction of the interstates through the Des Moines metro area.
Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or
Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Our mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places. Have we done a book on your town? Visit www.arcadiapublishing.com.