BURLINGTON, p. v., formerly the capital, and the largest town in Iowa, and the seat of justice of Des Moines county, occupies a pleasant slope on the west bank of the Mississippi, 75 miles southeast of Iowa city, 248 ms. N. of St. Louis, 1,429 ms. N. of New Orleans, and 871 ms. from W. Pleasant hills and woody slopes rise behind the city, and enhance the effect of its other advantages. It is the centre of an active, extended, and increasing commerce with the rich interior of the state, together with that of Illinois, and the valley of the Mississippi. Possessing a combination of so many favorable circumstances, it has already received a vigorous impulse, and will undoubtedly advance with accelerated growth. Its broad and delightful streets, either along the water, or on higher ground, are admirably suited for business, as well as for residence, and the number of public buildings, elegant stores, and dwellings, is already large, and receives almost daily accessions. A steam-ferry connects the town with the opposite side of the river. Pop. in 1840, 4,300, in 1850, 4081. (Fanning's, 1853)
BURLINGTON ....The business portion of the City, is mostly limited to the lower districts, skirting the River and the banks of the Hawk-Eye, whose bed divides the city about midway, running east and west; the hills on either hand are, for the most part, crowded with dwelling houses, many of which are ornamental and extensive. It contains fourteen Churches, namely: three Presbyterian, two Baptist, two Methodist, two Catholic, two German Reformed, one Lutheran, one Episcopal and one Congregational. Some other congregations, that have no houses of worship, hold their meetings in some one or other of the numerous large public halls with which the city is well supplied.
The DesMoines Lodge, No. 1, A. F. and A. M., meets the first Monday of every month, at the Masonic Hall.
Burlington Lodge, No. 20, A. F. and A. M., meets the third Friday of every month, at Masonic Hall.
Iowa R. A. Chapter, A. F. and A. M., No. 1, meets the first Wednesday of every month, at Masonic Hall.
Joppa Council, No. 6, A. F. and A. M., meets second Wednesday of every month, at Masonic Hall.
Washington Lodge, No. 1, I. O. O. F., meets every Friday evening in the Odd Fellows Hall.
THE BURLINGTON UNIVERSITY, under the control of the Baptist Church, occupies a handsome range of buildings and conspicuous location on the hill rising in the western portion of the city. It is a flourishing institution and well endowed.
The conformation of the surrounding country insures to Burlington a prominent position among the business places of this section of the Union. For near twenty miles above and below, on either side of the River, the formation of its banks precludes the establishment of a rival town of any importance; thus an extensive section of the finest and most fertile country in the world must forever remain tributary to this point. In addition to these natural advantages, capital and labor have lent their aid with unstinting hand to advance its interests. Early in the year 1855, the Burlington and Chicago Railroad was opened. Previous to this all transactions and purchases of produce and goods were with reference to the facilities offered for transportation by the Mississippi. During a great part of the year, the River was either frozen over or a general stage of low water rendered navigation uncertain and tedious. But the opening of the road to the lakes put us in direct communication with Eastern cities, and thereafter there was no necessity for depending upon the river for transportation except for heavy goods, purchased in the southern markets. Much difficulty was still experienced in that particular, as the season for making such purchases came at the time of the lowest stage of water, which entirely prevented the passage of boats of the larger size over the lower rapids. Happily for our merchants they are not obliged any longer to wait for high water. In May, 1856, the Burlington and Quincy Railroad was opened, and our dealers have taken advantage of the facilities offered for obtaining their supplies of heavy goods by that route, which reaches the river so far below the rapids as not to be dependent upon high water, there being always sufficient water at Quincy for boats of the larger size.
In August, 1856, the Burlington and Missouri River R. R., was put in operation from this city to Mt. Pleasant. The country through which the road passes is one of unlimited resources, which are only particularly developed. When the road shall have been finished through to the Missouri River, and have formed all of its connections, it cannot but become one of the best paying roads in the west. It is now finished to Ottumwa.
The Peoria and Burlington Railroad was opened for trade in the early part of last year. This important road puts this city in direct connection with the cities and towns of central, eastern and southern Illinois, as the Chicago road does with the northern section of that State and the eastern States. Thus does this city already enjoy great facilities in the way of railroad travel and transportation; and further are yet in contemplation. A road to connect with the Keokuk road at Ft. Madison has been determined on, by which the impediment to the connection with the river below the rapids in low stages of the water will be obviated.
Burlington contains five wholesale, and thirty-seven retail groceries, eleven dry goods stores, five drug stores, six clothing stores, two book stores, eight, hardware, iron, stove and tin stores, four hat, cap and fur dealers, ten boot and shoe stores, five saw mills, three planing mills, one wheat cleaner manufactory, four pork packing houses, two flour mills, one linseed oil factory, one lard oil and candle factory, three plow factories, three foundries, two rectifiers, five brewers and four printing houses; besides the usual variety of smaller establishments. (Hair's Iowa State Gazetteer..., 1865)