The H. & St. Jo Railroad was the first railroad across Missouri. Starting in the early 1840s, monied interests in the east initiated plans to build this rail line. Chartered in 1847, the railroad company
purchased right-of-way across the land of William Bond Moore (founder of the town of Mooresville) on October 16, 1856, for $450. The strip of land was 100 feet wide, and
had previously been surveyed and marked under provision of the charter. Shea Griffin & Co. were the prime contractors for construction of the railroad from Hamilton to Grand River. A subcontractor,
Patrick Cochrane, did the actual construction from the Caldwell-Livingston County line east to Grand River. Cochrane's work crews consisted of 10 to 25 hands, mostly Irish laborers. The firm Groat & Snyder
contracted to build the bridge across Grand River east of Utica. Tall trees were cut in Colorado and hauled by ox teams across Kansas to St. Joseph, the western terminus of the railroad. In late 1857,
the timbers were delivered to the end of the newly-placed rails in western Livingston County. Local farmers were hired by Groat & Snyder to haul the huge logs to Grand River for use in building the bridge.
Construction crews from St. Joseph worked toward the east while the Hannibal crews worked toward the west. Construction was completed February 13, 1859 at a point several miles east of Chillicothe. The final cost was $12 million, or about $58,000 per mile. The first rolling equipment consisted of fourteen freight cars, six passenger coaches and four engines. Within two years the equipment had expanded to eleven engines, each of which had a unique name: Hannibal, Stranger, Missouri, Chippewa, Oneida, Mohegan, Ottawa, Seneca, Omaha, Miami and Apache. Firemen on the coal-burning engines were paid $1.50 per day, while firemen on wood burners were paid $1.25 per day.