Doing a bit of research on Steam Engines (Izak loves Thomas and steam engines)... I found the following article regardling the origin of the term "Jerkwater Town". Very interesting..
On a side note - I had always thought that stem engines took on water via a water tower. And while this may have been the case for smaller engines in the early days - it was much more common for large trains to use a "Track Pan" that was filled with water and they would scoop it up as they passed at full - or nearly full speed. There were several such high speed track pans in Michigan.. Here are some pictures of Steam engines in Michigan going over track pans:
And a link to a page discussing the Track pans in Michigan: