In 1839, R.C. Tilghman, as he was completing his survey of the land, laying out a map for Iowa’s first “official” road, hired the Langworthy brothers – Edward, James and Lucius – of Dubuque as contractors for actually constructing the National (Military) Road. The brothers, in turn, contacted a young single farmer, age 39, from Cascade in Dubuque County named Lyman Dillon to do the dirty work of plowing up a guiding furrow between Dubuque and Iowa City, marking Tilghman’s route for road crews to follow.
Beginning just outside Dubuque, in the fall of 1839, Dillon took a large sod-breaking plow with a team of five oxen, a horse-drawn covered wagon for provisions, and under the guidance of an army engineer, began plowing up what later would become known as Dillon’s Furrow – 86 miles – at $3 per mile.
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