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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Railroads and Railroad Towns

1918 Men working on the Railroad at Birds

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 the 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 the towns of Pinkstaff and Bird's Station were surveyed along sites near the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railroad.

The above Information was taken from the 1900 Illinois State Blue Book, one of a series in our collection available for review at the Research Library.

Notes: According to Illinois State records, Sumner was incorporated on April 19,1887 and Bridgeport was incorporated February 16, 1865.

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