Fine early birdseye view of McGregor and North McGregor, Iowa, lithographed in Chicago by the Chicago Lithog. Co. for Ruger & Stoner of Madison, WIsconsin.
The view show the town on the west bank of the Mississippi River, just north of its confluence with the Wisconsin River,
Perhaps the most fascinating element of the view is its depiction of the neighoring town of Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, just across the river. By contrast, the following year, and using a nearly identical decorative motif, the Ruger & Stoner view of Prairie du Chien shows an entirely different image of the town, which was likely drawn from a hillside above McGregor.
McGregor was founded as MacGregor's Landing in 1847 by Alexandar MacGrego
Since 1837, MacGregor had been operating a ferry across the Mississippi River between Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and the present site of McGregor, Iowa. MacGregor planned the new city as a six block development, and it was quickly populated, being incorporated as McGregor in 1857. In that same year, the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad finished building a railroad track from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, thus connecting Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River by rail.
McGregor quickly became a major commercial center, and served as a hub where grain from Iowa and Minnesota could be transported across the Mississippi and sent on to Milwaukee via railroad. For example, around 1860, Joseph "Diamond Jo" Reynolds moved to McGregor in order to establish a grain trading business, and later ran his own steam packets.
More railroads were built to connect McGregor with cities further west, and the city of North McGregor (now Marquette, Iowa) was established just north of the city to serve as the city's railroad terminus. After reaching McGregor from the west, trains were disassembled and railroad cars were ferried across the Mississippi to continue on towards Lake Michigan.
In 1874, the system of ferrying railroad cars across the river between North McGregor and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, was brought to an end when Prairie du Chien businessman John Lawler commissioned the construction of a permanent pontoon bridge to connect the two cities' rail lines. As the need for men to disassemble and ship trains across the river disappeared, the city's population began to decline.
The following is excerpted from the Library of Congrss Website:
Albert Ruger was the first to achieve success as a panoramic artist. The collections of the Library's Geography and Map Division contain 213 city maps drawn or published by Ruger or by Ruger & Stoner. The majority came from Ruger's personal collection, which the Library purchased in 1941 from John Ramsey of Canton, Ohio. Before this accession, there were only four Ruger city plans in the Geography and Map Division. Born in Prussia in 1829, Ruger emigrated to the United States and worked initially as a mason. While serving with the Ohio Volunteers during the Civil War, he drew views of Union campsites, among them Camp Chase in Ohio and Stephenson's Depot in Virginia. He continued to draw after the war, and his prints include a famous lithograph of Lincoln's funeral car passing the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.
By 1866, Ruger had settled in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he began his prolific panoramic mapping career by sketching Michigan cities. Full descriptions of many Ruger views of Michigan cities are contained in John Cumming's A Preliminary Checklist of 19th Century Lithographs of Michigan Cities and Towns. Urban communities in some twenty-two states and Canada, ranging from New Hampshire to Minnesota and south to Georgia and Alabama, were sketched by Ruger. He continued his activity into the 1890s, moving his business to Chicago, Madison, and St. Louis as he sought new markets. In the late 1860s, Ruger formed a partnership with J. J. Stoner of Madison, Wisconsin, and together they published numerous city panoramas. Ruger was particularly productive during the 1860s; in 1869 alone, he produced more than sixty panoramic maps. In addition to city plans, he drew views of university campuses, among them Notre Dame, Shurtleff College, and the University of Michigan. Albert Ruger died in Akron, Ohio, on November 12, 1899.