Settlers arrived in the winter of 1828 and by Christmas they had constructed three cabins on what would become Savanna. The only river stop between Rock Island and Galena, the town grew quickly and by 1838 had over 500 residents. Savanna became the county seat of Carroll County in 1839 and steamboats were the best mode of transportation to move goods. The first railroad arrived in 1865 and by 1890 the town had grown to over 3,000 residents. With the construction of the Savanna Army Depot in 1917, the city’s population continued to grow and reached 5,237 by 1920, an all-time high. Cars replaced passenger trains and the army depot saw its workforce declining over the years but the town still had 4,529 residents in the 1980 census. But the army depot closed and both railroad lines drastically reduced operations in Savanna, and the river town saw its population drop to 2,783 in the 2020 census.
This photo from the early 1880s was taken atop the grain elevator looking north.
Taken in 1897, the Savanna Elevator Company, owned by the St. Paul and Kansas City Grain Company, employed between 8 to 18 men before burning down in 1898.
A view of Indian Head Rock in the early 1900s as well as the high board fence the Burlington Railroad constructed from the Indian Head south to the upper end of town became the tracks were so close to the road to Hanover.
The C.B. & Q. Depot was built in the late 1880s and this 1905 picture shows Frank Zinnel in of the first cars ever seen in Savanna.
Built in 1883 for the St. Louis and St. Paul Packer Co., the “St. Paul” ran three hour trips that started in Sabula with stops in Savanna, Ritchie’s Landing, Sand Prairie, Gordon’s Ferry, Bellevue, and Dubuque. It was rebuilt in 1892 to add a larger third deck and then had trips from St. Louis to St. Paul, starting in the late 1890s.
A horse drawn wagon crosses the original Plum River bridge constructed in the late 1800s.
A new bridge was built in 1911 over the Plum River just north of the old one.