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Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
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Chapter XI. Railroads — (Continued.)


This road commences at Dunleith, a town situated on the east side of the Mississippi river, directly opposite the beautiful and flourishing city of Dubuque, in Iowa. It passes south sixteen miles, through the city of Galena, the centre of the great lead region of the west, thence easterly fifty miles, after which it takes a southerly course, in an almost straight line, passing through the following important towns: Nora, a town of some 1000 inhabitants, where two years ago there were none; we find next Freeport, where it connects with the following railroads, viz., Racine and Mississippi and Chicago Union Railroad, for all towns and cities east or west.

Passing along still in a southerly course, you next reach a town called Polo, which in 1855 had no inhabitants, and has at present 3500. You next come to the beautiful village of Dixon;as you approach it, its appearance is beautiful, being situated on a side hill, commanding a view for miles around. It has many beautiful churches and public buildings, as well as many magnificent private residences. Dixon has at this time about 6000 inhabitants; it is the terminus of the Dixon Air Line Railroad.

The next town of importance we come to is Amboy. This place is quite pretty, and very much resembles some of the

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New England towns, the streets being very wide and very regularly laid out, and well supplied with shade trees. It has about 3000 inhabitants, when in 1850 it had but sixteen persons. The next place of importance is Mendota, where connections are made daily with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy R. R. for Chicago and the east; also for Galesburgh, Quincy, Keokuk, Burlington, and all points in the west. At Mendota the traveler will find a magnificent depot, and one of the best hotels in the Union connected with it, under the management of a clever fellow, by the name of Akin, who is always ready to supply the wants of the inner man. This place at present has about 1800 inhabitants, and is fast increasing in population.

The next town is La Salle, another large and flourishing village, and one that has grown with great rapidity the last few years. Fifteen years ago it had a population of 500 persons, and now it has about 8000. At this point close connection with trains from the north and south are made daily with the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad for Chicago and the east, and Rock Island, Davenport, Iowa City and the west. After leaving La Salle, we pass through the following flourishing villages: Lena, Nora, Rutland and Wenona, all of which have been settled within the last three years; the largest of these towns has about 2000 inhabitants — the smallest about 900. The next we come to is El Paso, where connections are made daily with the Peoria and Oquaka Railroad for Peoria and intermediate places.

We keep still on our way south, continually passing through thriving towns and villages, until we reach the beautiful city of Bloomington. This city contains some very handsome buildings, mostly built of brick, neatly and tastefully ornamented. Bloomington had in 1852 about 1500 inhabitants — it now has 7000; it is lighted with gas, and is situated so as to make it

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very pleasant, the grounds being quite rolling. Leaving Bloomington we pass Heyworth, Wapello, Clinton, Macon, Forsyth, to Decatur. This is another important point, it being the connection of the Great Western Railroad, where passengers change cars for Springfield, Jacksonville and Naples; also for points in the east. Decatur is quite a city, having about 5000 inhabitants, and many fine buildings. We leave Decatur, passing over the most beautiful prairie lands in the State, until we arrive at Pana. At this point connections are made by all trains with the old reliable Terre Haute Railroad, to and from St. Louis and the east.

Our next connections are made with the Broad Gauge Ohio and Mississippi, from St. Louis for Cairo and all points in the south and east. From Sandoval we proceed to Centralia, a city where the company have erected capacious and substantial depot buildings, as well as engine houses, work shops, &c., forming almost an entire city within themselves. This place has about 8000 inhabitants; in the year 1854, only four years ago, there were none. We leave Centralia, passing through several neat and pretty towns, which have been recently settled, until we get to De Quoin and De Soto; these are celebrated for their beautiful location, and for the numerous coal mines. At these points coal of the best quality is found; it is said by all who have used it to be the best known in the State. The next town is Carbondale, which is also very beautiful, although small; it being quite new, the houses are mostly built in amongst the trees, making it shady and very pleasant during the summer season. We next come to Jonesboro, which has attained quite a celebrity for its productiveness; at this place there is acre after acre laid out and cultivated as gardens for early vegetables and fruits — such as peaches, apples, tomatoes, and in fact all kinds, which are raised in abundance and in advance of any

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other part of the country. From Jonesboro we pass hastily along until we reach Cairo; Cairo is at the terminus of the mainline, and where we connect with all boats bound down the Mississippi and up the Ohio rivers. Passengers taking the cars at St. Louis twenty-four hours after the boats have left are sure of certain connection with the boats for all points at Cairo.

The company have now a line of ten new first class boats, which make daily connections with all trains arriving and departing from Cairo. Passengers desirous of remaining in St. Louis after boats have left can do so, and engage state rooms, passage, &c., to Vicksburgh, Natchez, Memphis and New Orleans, at the office of the company, No. 50 Fourth street, St. Louis.

A branch of this great road leaves the main line at Centralia, one hundred and eighteen miles above Cairo, diverging to the north-east and terminating at Chicago. At Mattoon connections are made with the Terre Haute Railroad for Chicago, and all points in the north and east; the connections are close and certain. There are at present two daily express passenger trains running from and to St. Louis from Chicago, Dunleith, and intermediate points, without change of cars or baggage. These trains are furnished with new and beautiful state room cars, such as can not be surpassed by any in this country; in fact it is the only road running through this part of the western country which has such magnificent equipments. The company have at present something like one hundred and seventy large and powerful engines, all from the best manufactory in the world, and that is Rogers, Ketchum & Grosvenor's; and rolling stock and equipments sufficient of all kinds to supply any demand, both for the transportation of freight and passengers. They have erected at all places where connections are made with other roads (where passengers are obliged to change cars) the most

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substantial and best arranged depots in the United States, all of which are supplied with all the modern improvements, and ladies' and gent's sitting rooms, well furnished, to make the passengers comfortable. The best hotels are also in the depot buildings at these points. The road has been constructed by the best mechanics and contractors in the country, and the company has spared neither pains nor expense to make it what it is now called by the travelling public — the model railroad of the country. It is managed by men who have been selected with care by its directors from the principle roads in the States — men who are not only scientific men, but men of long practical experience. When we name its managers, and you examine into their experience, you will find that most all of them have commenced at the foot, and by industry and perseverance are now managing the largest and most prosperous road in the world. We will take the President, W. H. Osborn, who is celebrated as being one of the best financial men in the country, and his management of this road shows it. J. C. Clark, Esq., is the king of superintendents of this western country. — a self-made man at that. John C. Jacobs, the Superintendent of the North Division, is celebrated for his energy and promptitude in whatever he undertakes. R. Forsyth, Esq., the General Freight Agent, is another of the same stamp; he is one of the most popular freight agents extant, and in fact all of the officers are of the same mould. The entire length of this road is seven hundred and seven miles, and has a line of telegraph, with an operator at each station, thereby securing to the traveller safety, speed and comfort. Passengers leaving St. Louis for any of the northern, eastern, or southern points, by calling on the General Agent, at 50 Fourth street, St. Louis, will receive all information in relation to all routes out of St. Louis, or any information he will impart with his usual ease and willingness to the

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inquirer. All who call on Mr. Hinman, the General Agent, will find him polite and ready to accommodate them.

Mr. Wm. P. Johnson, the General Ticket Agent, is a thorough-going man, and one who has not his superior in the world; he is one of the most courteous, affable and gentlemanly persons we have ever met; he is a general favorite with the travelling community. As to Mr. Hinman, we confess our inability to do him justice. He is one of the kindest and most noble-hearted gentlemen in the world, and has won scores of friends to the Illinois Central Railroad by his judicious management. May he long live to guide and direct the affairs of the St. Louis office, for none more worthy can be found.

The managers of this road have recently placed one million five hundred thousand acres of land (a part of the grant made them by the State of Illinois for the purpose of insuring the construction of this road) in the market, and offer it upon terms so favorable that no one need longer want a homestead. They offer to the settler lands, all along the line of the road, upon the following terms: The first payment to be made in two years from date of purchase, and one-eighth every year thereafter, until the whole is paid for, while only three per cent, interest on the back payment is demanded. As a security for the performance of the contract, the first two years' interest must be paid in advance.

Land may be selected in accordance with the individual tastes of purchasers; some sections of country are best adapted to corn, others to wheat, some producing both equally well; some, again, seem peculiarly favorable to stock raising; others to fruit growing or fancy gardening; some portions are heavily timbered; on some, timber just covers one corner, or is scattered in occasional groups or groves. Frequently, in a single section of six hundred and forty acres, all these qualities are combined,

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together with living water; and the settler finds a home, only requiring a moderate expenditure of labor to establish him comfortably for life.

The system of long credits and low rates of interest, established by the company, is estimated by experienced farmers in the State as being worth, to the actual settler, from thirty to fifty per cent, per annum, by enabling him to invest his ready money immediately in the cultivation of the land, so that from his being able to take up so much more than the man who locks up his funds in a cash purchase, and the immense returns from land placed under cultivation, he soon finds himself far in advance.

Illinois is known throughout the United States as the Garden State of the Union, and, from the extraordinary fertility of the soil, is justly entitled to the name. Its vast tracts of rich, rolling land were called by the first French settlers "Prairies," which, translated, means "natural meadows," and such they are; almost the whole State is a natural meadow, lying in high, beautifully rolling, or gently undulating prairies, with a soil of surpassing and inexhaustible fertility, all ready for the plough, without a rock, stump, or even stone, to interrupt its action. The difficulties experienced in the eastern States, or in western timbered States, in bringing lands under cultivation, are unknown here; the soil is readily turned over at the rate of two acres, to two acres and a half a day, by a heavy team of horses or two yoke of oxen, or it maybe contracted to be worked at from $2 to $3 per acre, and an active practical man can readily cultivate ten acres here, against one in the Eastern or Middle States, taking them as they run, while the yield per acre will be infinitely greater. With far less labor, a farm purchased here at the low rates ruling at present will yield more than one there valued at $100 to $150 per acre. The

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soil is a dark, rich vegetable mould, varying from two to eight feet in depth, capable of producing any thing in the greatest profusion which will grow in these latitudes at all, and absolutely inexhaustible in its fertility. Instances could be multiplied of land cropped for twenty to thirty successive years, without the addition of a pound of manure, on which the growth last season was just as vigorous and the yield as profuse as on any other of the series. Crossing the prairies are belts of white oak, hickory, black walnut, ash and maple timber, of excellent quality, generally following the courses of the streams, varying from half a mile to five miles in width, in many places running far out on the prairie, or scattered in groves here and there over its surface. The State, as a general thing, is well watered, the streams usually running over sandy or stony beds; besides ponds of constant stock-water, which are found in all parts of the prairies. For household purposes, excellent soft water is found at from 10 to 25 feet in depth, generally springing from a stratum of sand. Settlers from the East are always agreeably disappointed in the character of the land in this respect; a prevailing though erroneous impression having gone forth, that on the prairies good water was difficult to be found. The first crop on newly broken prairie is generally sod corn; as this requires no cultivation between planting and gathering, the farmer has ample time to get things comfortable about him, and prepare the land for sowing winter wheat before cold weather comes on. From this sod crop it is the expectation to realize sufficient to pay the cost of breaking, improvements, and general expenses, placing the land in a high state of cultivation on the opening of the second season. It has averaged from thirty to thirty-five bushels per acre, often running up to fifty. Wheat averages from twenty-five to thirty bushels per acre, frequently reaching thirty-eight and forty, and during the past

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season has been selling at the various railroad stations at from $1.00 to $1.50 per bushel. The second crop of corn averages from sixty to eighty bushels, frequently giving one hundred.

Any desired information in relation to these lands can be obtained of John Wilson, Land Commissioner, Central Illinois Railroad Company, Chicago, Illinois.

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Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
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