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The present position of Illinois as regards the natural and artificial elements that make a great and prosperous State, is mainly attributable to the construction of her railroads, by which the State, in all its length and breadth, is traversed, and every possible facility afforded for an unlimited domestic and foreign trade and intercourse; and this, considering her immense territory and the enterprising character of her population, must, for all future time, necessarily secure to her an equal position with the bighest in this great confederation of sister States.
Up to the year 1850, Illinois had only one railroad, running a distance of fifty-five miles. At the beginning of the year 1855, there were already 1892 miles; at the beginning of 1856, 2215 miles, and at its close, there were over 2600 miles, nearly all completed, while several new roads were either being projected, or even already in progress of construction.
Among the States of the Union, New York and Ohio have the greatest share of railroads : the former having 2795, and the latter 2725 miles. Illinois, indeed, is now but little behind them, and no doubt in a very brief time will surpass both, and possess more miles of railroad than any other State.
By means of the railroads, Illinois is in immediate communication with the East and the West, with the South and the North. The State itself is traversed by railroads in all directions — within one year's time, there will hardly be a single spot in it, from which one of the railroads cannot be reached within one day's travel.
The number of railroads that either pass entirely through the State, or, coming from adjacent States, merely traverse it in some parts, is no less than forty-eight, which are nearly all completed and in successful operation. They are all enumerated in the subjoined alphabetical list, in which are also stated, the points of commencement and termination of each road, the points at which it is crossed or intersected by other roads, together with the number of miles, &c., as far as we were able to ascertain.
The Alton and Illinoistown Railroad
Connects Alton and Illinoistown, and is 25 miles long. The Atlantic and Mississippi Railroad
Will run from Illinoistown, northeasterly, to Terre Haute, Indiana, and cross the main line of the Illinois Central Railroad at Vandalia, the Chicago branch of the same at Effingham, and the Wabash Valley Railroad
about ten miles from the frontier of Indiana. The Belleville and Illinoistown Railroad
Connects Belleville and Illinoistown, and is 15 miles long.
Will, in coming from Belleville, cross the main line of the Illinois Central
county, by an intersection with the Massac and Sangamon Railroad. The Belleville and Murphysboro Railroad
Will run southeast of Belleville, cross the Kaskaskia river near Athens, then cross the main line of the Illinois Central Railroad at Carbondale,
and touch the Ohio river at Brooklyn, Massac county. The Beloit Branch of the Galena Railroad
Runs, in a northwestern direction, from Belvidere, Boone county, to Be
loit, Wisconsin. Length, 20 miles. The Bureau Valley Railroad —
Joins the Rock Island Railroad at Bureau Junction, Bureau county, and follows, in a southern direction, the Illinois river; at Lacon, crossing the Fort Wayne, Lacon, and Platte Valley Railroad, and terminating at
Peoria. Length, 47 miles.
Is intended to run south, from Vincennes, and, crossing the Massac and
minus at Cairo.
Forms a portion of the Burlington and Quincy Railroad, from Mendota,
The Chicago and Rock Island Railroad
Runs via Joliet, at which place it crosses the Illinois river. At La Salle it crosses the main line of the Illinois Central Railroad, and the Burlington and Quincy Railroad between Wyanet and Princeton, and then goes
westward to Rock Island. Length, 182 miles. The Chicago, St. Charles, and Mississippi Railroad
Will run, via Junction and St. Charles, as far as Savannah, Carroll county, on the Mississippi river. On its way, it will cross the Rockford and Central Railroad, the main line of the Illinois Central Railroad, and the Dixon and Galena Railroad. It is now completed as far as St. Charles.
The Chicago, St. Paul, and Fond du Lac Railroad
Formerly called the Illinois and Wisconsin Railroad, runs from Chicago, via Janesville, Wisconsin, through Wisconsin, crossi the Fox River Valley Railroad at Crystal Lake. Its whole length will be about 300 miles, of which about 60 miles are within the limits of Illinois. It is finished as far as Janesville,
The Dixon and Galena Air Line Railroad
Will run, in a straight line, from Dixon, in a northwestern direction, and, after crossing the Chicago, St. Charles, and Mississippi Railroad, lead directly on to Galena.
The Fort Wayne, Lacon, and Platte Valley Railroad —
Is intended to form a connection, in a straight line, between Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the Mississippi river; south of Bourbonnais, it will cross the Chicago branch of the Illinois Central Railroad; the Alton and Chicago Railroad south of Dwight; the main line of the Illinois Central Railrond north of Wenona; the Bureau Valley Railroad near Lacon; the Chicago and Burlington Railroad near Galvy, and terminate about ten miles below Muscatine, near the Mississippi.
The Fox River Valley Railroad –
Commences at Elgin, and runs through the Valley of the Fox river up into Wisconsin. Near Crystal Lake, it crosses the Chicago, St. Paul, and Fond du Lac Railroad. It is finished to the State boundary line
Length, 34 miles.
Runs from Chicago, via Junction and Elgin, as far as Freeport.
The Great Western Railroad
Runs from Lafayette, Indiana, via Danville, Vermillion county, as far as Naples, on the Illinois river; it touches the Chicago branch of the Illinois Central Railroad between Urbana and Tolono; crosses the main line of the last-mentioned railroad near Decatur, and the Alton and Chicago Railroad near Springfield, Its length, from Naples to the Indiana State-line, is 1741 miles.
That portion of this railroad which connects Springfield with Naples, was the first railway constructed within the State of Illinois (in the year 1837), but it soon fell into dilapidation, and continued so up to the year 1847, when it was purchased from the State by several capitalists, under whose direction it was reëstablished, and the construction of it gradually
continued, until it was ready as far as the Indiana State-line. The Jacksonville and Alton Railroad
Will form a connection between Jacksonville and Alton. The subscrip
tions for it were started in October, 1856. The Illinois Central Railroad
Being 704 miles long, is the longest railroad in the State - one of the
1. The Main Line, from Cairo to La Salle - 308 miles.
3. The Chicago Branch, from Chicago to Centralia - 250 miles.
The Galena Branch crosses the Burlington and Quincy Railroad at Mendota ; at Dixon, the Chicago, Fulton, and Iowa Central Railroad; and it will be crossed, south of Foreston, by the Chicago, St. Charles, and Mississippi Railroad, while it joins the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad at Freeport, and thence runs as far as Dunleith.