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Old 11-20-2012, 10:13 AM
13 posts, read 23,219 times
Reputation: 70


Greetings. This is my first post here but it looks like there aren't too many surprises in the way the place works. I've only recently found it, and there are many interesting things discussed here.

I live in Colorado now, but spent most of my "formative" years in southern Iowa and I have many fond memories from that time. It was a great place to grow up.

Back in the early 70s, a bunch of us rode dirt bikes wherever we could find suitable dirt. We rode in the Sedan Bottoms, southeast of Centerville, several times with permission from the landowner. As I recall, we spent most of our time there in deep woods and it seemed wild and remote to me. There was a long ridge in the area where we rode, with a steep hill that not many of us were able to clear. I don't think I ever even tried it.

I don't recall many houses or buildings of any kind, really, but there were the remains of a few old structures that got my attention. There were a few skeletons of wood framed buildings that had a distinctively oriental look. The roofs were intact enough back then to show the classic "pagoda" style. It seemed odd to find such things there. They looked like they had long been abandoned, with brush growing up in and around them. I distinctly recall one that was close to a road, as well as one or two others that were probably more distant or more dilapidated. It has been 40 years, and there is a lot I don't remember well.

Over the years, I have picked up bits and pieces of information about the buildings, but I have been unable to find anything on the web about them. I was told by someone that there had been a significant population of Asians in the area in the distant past; that no one knew where they came from, why they were there, or where they went. I was told there had been some sort of scholarly study done, maybe in the 60s, by some anthropologists from a university somewhere, or something like that. If there is a paper somewhere about such a study, I would really like to see that! I don't recall just who told me what, or what their sources might have been, so I don't have many specifics. I don't think what we saw were abandoned garden sheds or anything like that.

Does anyone have any information about this? Looking around now, it surprises me that the Sedan Bottoms area is just a few miles from Centerville. The area looks to be much more settled these days, though I am pleased to see it is still "wild" enough to be home to a wildlife refuge. A friend of mine pointed me to this forum after he found some posts by Mercruiserdr in the thread at this link:


Mercruiserdr had some interesting stories about Centerville, to me especially since they are from the years immediately before our family moved away. His spooky stories about the Sedan Bottoms seem believable enough to me, since the area did impress me as a strange and mysterious place. Mercruiserdr doesn't seem to be active here these days. I have not attempted to contact him.

Any information about the general area is welcome. You never know what bit of info might be useful. Thanks.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:35 PM
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Don't you think that the most likely explanation is that it is an abandoned coal mining "location"?

In that part of Iowa, between the 1880s and 1930s, coal mining "locations" were built by companies and lived in by miners until the coal in the area played out. After that, what could be moved from the town was moved to another location and the rest was abandoned.

I hadn't heard about an Asian settlement, but many of the coal mining communties were primarily African American. There were railroad crews laying track all over that region during that period, so maybe there were Asian railroad workers???

The above is just a guess based on the history of that region. If there's another story, I'd love to hear about it.

Why don't you contact the Appanoose County Historical Society? www.appanoosehistory.org
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:19 PM
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Thanks for the link. I'll get around to contacting them at some point. The friend who pointed me here has emailed a few such organizations, I think. I've really just started looking into this. Some of the people I rode with (adults) grew up around there, and no one seemed to know anything about who built the structures. Interestingly, there were no assumptions, just "nobody knows." As far as I know, Chinese railroad builders didn't get that far east. There is of course a lot of rich mining history in the area. We learned about that in school, I was friends with descendents of Italian miners, and so on. Nothing was ever mentioned about any Asians that I could ever recall. The buildings had been substantial, and the strong cultural influence in their design really doesn't fit with rough-and-ready structures built by wage slaves for mining operations, in the opinion of those I know who have seen them. I'm a carpenter, and I've never built a pagoda style roof, but I know it's a lot more involved than a simple gable roof. If those elegant frames were the remnants of mining structures, then they are very interesting indeed.

My sources of information are quite distant in miles and years at this point, but the talk I recall seemed to be along the lines that an Asian settlement right there just didn't fit with what was know about the European history of the area, or what was known about the Indians who were there before that. The (mythical?) study I heard about was said to conclude much the same thing. Anyway, the main reason I'm posting here is in the hope of finding someone else who remembers seeing the structures. I'd love to see some pictures. I am sure if my family had stayed in the area, I'd have found out what the story is long ago.

Last edited by Tall Tree; 11-20-2012 at 08:33 PM..
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:35 PM
6,150 posts, read 5,770,393 times
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Interesting. I'd love to learn what you find out.

Much of what is still scattered around the Buxton location is clay tile - kind of like what you see now on California style roofs. I was surprised to learn that that kind of tile was used in Iowa in the 1900 - 1930 time period!
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:07 PM
4 posts, read 16,365 times
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Hi Tall Tree,
This is Sys, Chairman of the ArmChair Reasearchers Committe
Thanx to the above posts "Clay tile" from 601 specifically, should be a good keyword to use in your search. There is an Ohio outfit that sourced these to Iowa and surrounding areas since 1888
Plus an Old House forums on their site as well.Threw in the Barns that used them as well.
This should narrow the type you saw..then take it from there
Round Barns Iowa - a set on Flickr old clay tile barns
Traditional Products for Old House Restoration | Ludowici Roof Tile sourcing clay since 1888
The Old House Forum - My Old House Online

Historical Roof Tile Repair | Slate Roof Restoration | Tile Roofing Contractor | Wisconsin | Illinois | Indiana

Good Luck!

PS Your Membership Dues for 2013 are now due and you have a couple of months outstanding from 2012..

Have a Happy New Year and The good Folx here too

Your Friend Always

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Old 01-04-2013, 08:25 PM
4 posts, read 16,365 times
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Annual report for ... with accompanying papers - Iowa Geological Survey - Google Books
Moderator cut: link removed, linking to competitor sites is not allowed

Untitled Document
Sedan, Iowa - Station 8579 (8782), M.P. 82.37 (Appanoose County)

Depot, board and batten
Water Tank - Model with Alexander CB&Q standard wood tank
Stock Pens - 2 pens, capacity 4 cars
Diamond crossing with the Q's Ft. Madison to Carrolton, MO line

Biennial Report of the State Mine Inspectors to the Governor of the State of ... - Iowa. State Mine Inspectors - Google Books
Our plans for the Glorious Revolution to start at Sedan Bottoms may not succeed Comrade. The people of these areas are too stable and happy and makes me think twice about our own "Fearless leader" and his thinking process. But he tells me this is all a propaganda trick like the North Koreans do with their Plyboard Facades of entire cities. None of this is really real and the people are doing slave labor in mines underneath, while the upper part are actors railed in from Missouri, Ohio, and Potheads from Oregon. and cheese eaters from wisconsin. This makes some sense. I will keep looking.

Last edited by Yac; 01-23-2013 at 06:00 AM..
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:21 PM
4 posts, read 16,365 times
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TallTree you might find the residents near there of interest.


Our farm north property line was about 8-900 yrds south of the railroad on shoal creek.We bought the farm 1948. I used to see stack locomotives pass through. Your article said the orig. line was abandoned in 1936.So what I saw was I believe a local run. The trains stopped running in probably in early 1950's. It was interesting experience. Sylvester age 68.

sylvester kuberski
shoal creek southwest of exline about 3 mile


I would be very surprised if the Rock Island Line was ever in the Sedan area. It went east and west through Centerville, Iowa, not far from Sedan. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad had lines crossing at Sedan. The line going NW out of Sedan went through Centerville. I believe the I&StL would have gone into Centerville via the CB&Q. These CB&Q lines in earlier times belonged to other independent railroads, but never the Rock Island RR.

The line from Kirksville to Green City was not a part of the I&StL RR, but belonged to the CB&Q and crossed the I&StL at Novinger. I think these companies were closely associated and the CB&Q may have owned the remains of the I&StL, but the Kirksville to Green City line ran east and west and would not have been a part of the original n and south I&StL.

Keith Walker
Milan, MO

My grandparents Elmer and Francis Burns rented a large farm at Sedan in the 40's. My mother said there was a small depot on the farm. I'd love more info on this and a picture of the depot or farm if anyone has one.

darrin crow
cedar rapids, IA
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:47 PM
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aha! A French Connection!
But that would be only natural as iowa was part of New France

Some of the sites where markers stand, telling a little of the community’s history, include the town of Thirty, originally a coal mining town now
'along Highway 5 south of Centerville, named for the #30 coal mine. It once had hotels, restaurants, stores and bars and was notorious for bootlegging, brawls and sordid nightlife.

The town of Sedan, halfway between Exline and Moulton, was named for a village in France. It grew from the intersection of two railroads and in the early 1900s had as many as 17 trains a day come through the town. There were stores, a hotel, depot, livery stable, silos and stockyards nearby. The Sedan area was a mecca for hunters, trappers and fishermen who came in on the trains. All that’s left of the town today are the remains of some railroad embankments.
Coal City, a company coal mining town west of the Chariton River, extended from what is now 610th Street to the Missouri line. At one time, 100 men worked the mines in the area. The south side of the town was the Missouri line. There were 37 houses built for the mining families, one-story, square frame houses with four rooms. Two families lived in each house. There was a grocery store and a post office. Coal ran out in 1936 and the mining families moved away. the railroad was taken out and the post office closed. The last building to disappear was the miners’ Union Hall, once an active meeting place. It was finally used for hay storage.

the daily has few good back articles..

Last edited by Sys_Config; 01-06-2013 at 02:19 PM..
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:17 AM
13 posts, read 23,219 times
Reputation: 70
Thanks, Mister Sysco! You've dug up even more interesting stuff. I need to visit Iowa, and get busy with some serious work on this. Looks like a good place to take a bike, too. The kind with pedals, I mean.

It's amazing how whole towns can disappear into the dirt in a short time. Out here in the desert, there are old town sites you'd never suspect were anything substantial, but a hundred years ago they had schools, churches, hotels and banks. Unless you poke around with a metal detector and have enough information to interpret the disturbed soil, you'd never know there was a town there at all. Which reminds me, I need to get over to Cisco and look for the Chinaman's Gold.
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Old 10-09-2015, 01:59 PM
1 posts, read 2,214 times
Reputation: 15
Lightbulb I just stumbled across this thread - here's more info

I recently moved to Centerville, IA and stumbled across this thread while looking for jobs. I find this quite fascinating, thanks for sharing!

I couldn't find anything about "pagodas" in Sedan Bottoms, but I did find out some things about the area.

1) "Sedan is at the crossing of the Burlington & Southwestern and the Missouri Iowa & Nebraska. It is on section 25. Sedan is but a hamlet and has an indifferent trade from the country close by." Page 396 in 'Past and Present of Appanoose County, Iowa' by L.L. Taylor in 1913 - available free at Google Books.


2) "SEDAN - This is the crossing point of the Burlington & Southwestern Railway and the Missouri Iowa & Nebraska and is not a ticket station on either line. It is in Section 25 Caldwell and near the Chariton [River]. The railway companies have so far expended about $150 on depot buildings which are occupied by a family who furnish well cooked and palatable meals to passengers who are compelled to wait here several hours to change in any direction. Near by is a store and saloon under one roof. This and the uncouth unplastered shanty called a depot building for want of a suitable designation, comprise the "outfit" of Sedan in the line of architecture." Page 474 in 'The History of Appanoose County' published by the Western Historical Company in 1878, also available free at Google Books.


After reading in these books about so many of what are now non-existent towns, I'd really like to get a metal detector and go hunting for "treasure!"

ps. Sorry I can't figure out how to make the links work. If someone in Admin would like to fix them, I wouldn't mind.

Mod Edit: I wasn't able to get the links to work either, but if you copy and paste from the https: to the end of the link, leaving off the html tags, they do work.

Last edited by ElleTea; 10-09-2015 at 03:45 PM..
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