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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Early Trains in Illinois

The first railway charter granted by the Illinois General Assembly was to the Chicago and Vincennes Railroad in 1835. The demand for State construction of an extensive system of internal improvements spread over the State in 1837. However, the first operating train system from Meredosia to Springfield was not completed until 1842. The Wabash Railroad developed from this line. In 1850 there were but 111 miles of track in operation in Illinois.


The Illinois Central started laying track in 1851 from the mouth of the Ohio to a point on the Illinois River. Their state charter specified that 7% of their gross receipts would be paid to the State, however they were freed from paying State or local tax.


In 1853 the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad commenced construction from Cincinnati to St. Louis, by laying track through Lawrence County. The town of Sumner was platted in 1854 along the right of way. In 1859 the town of Bridgeport was platted on the site where work shanties had been erected during construction of the railroad.


By 1870 Illinois had risen to first place in railroad track mileage among the other states. The Lawrence connection to the Paris & Danville Railroad was completed in 1876. In 1877 and 1878 Pinkstaff and Bird's Station are surveyed along sites near the Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific Railroad.


The above Information was taken from the Illinois State Blue Book (published 1900) available for review at the Museum, and the Lawrence County 175th Anniversary Edition Book, available for sale at the Museum. (These books are almost gone so get one now if you want one.  In addition, we have one Black’s Cemetery book available for sale.  Call for price. We also have some of Dr Kirkwood’s Early Physicians of Lawrence County Books available for $30.  These are limited as well. These books are not on our website shop so just email us of your interest at lawrencelore@gmail.com )

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