Illinois Central Railroad

Illinois Central Railroad

The wages were $1.25 a day to build the railroad

It was completed September 27, 1856, taking five years to construct

705 mile railroad

Connected the northern, southern and central parts of the State

The city of Centralia was named after the Illinois Central Railroad

Later, four additional railroads were built east to west

It expanded the social, political, and economic climate of the State

The 1836 legislature granted a charter to build a railroad from Cairo to Galena

$3.5 million was set aside from the State for the building of a central railroad

The work was halted by the financial panic of 1837

The concept was kept alive by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas

The 1850 Douglas Act was signed by President Fillmore

The bill called for Illinois to receive Federal land to build a central railroad

4000+ miles were made available

The State granted the charter to the Illinois Central Railroad Company

2.5 million acres were transferred to the company

The railroad would have to pay 7% shipping tax

The groundbreaking was at Cairo, IL on 12/23/1851

By 1852 funds were raised via bond sales in England to build the railroad

The chief Construction Engineer was Col. Roswell Mason

Hundreds of German and Irish immigrants were recruited from Europe to work on the railroad

Iron rails at $45 per ton were floated from England via New Orleans and Chicago

The line crossed the Great Western Railroad

The state hired Andrew Carnegie’s company to build a bridge across the Mississippi River

The state of Illinois’ population grew 2.5 million from 1850-1880

Illinois Central’s income in 1861 was $4 million, and in 1865 it was $8 million

Illinois Central hauled 291 million tons of goods in 1870, and 1,302 million tons in 1890

In 1877, Illinois Central bought the Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans Line

Illinois Central purchased the Havana, Rantoul and Eastern Railroad and the Iowa Line in 1887

In 1888, Illinois Central built a line from Chicago to Freeport

Illinois Central built a huge bridge at Cairo over the Ohio River; it was completed in 1889

The Illinois Central headquarters was in Chicago, IL

Illinois Central installed telegraph lines, and the telegraph operators could signal station masters up and down the line

Illinois Central built the first sleeping cars, three years before Pullman

They were the first railroad to establish Post Office cars

Illinois Central was the first railroad to develop refrigerated freight cars

They were one of the five largest railroads in the U. S. by 1900

By 1926 the suburban line trains converted from steam to electricity

 

Source:  “Historic Illinois”, Vol. 29, No. 4, December 2006, Pages 3 – 7, Rockford Public Library’s Local History Collection