Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History
Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History
Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History
Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History
Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History
Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History
Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History
Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History

Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History

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Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History
 
Illinois History Teacher Vol 15-1 Railroads In Illinois History
Published By The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
48 pages
Soft cover

Introduction  H. Roger Grant, Guest Editor
The Iron Horse Comes to Illinois, 1835-1860 2 - 17
H. Roger Grant
Curriculum Materials
Bruce David Janu
Railroad and Community Life  18 - 26
H. Roger Grant
Curriculum Materials
Jamie Lynn Kassner
Chicago: America's Railroad Mecca 27 - 41
H. Roger Grant
Curriculum Materials
Thomas Best
Still Hauling: Today's Railroads in Illinois 42 - 47
H. Roger Grant
Curriculum Materials
Mary Ann Hanlin
Bibliography48
Contributors' Biographies Inside Back Cover

INTRODUCTION TO ILLINOIS HISTORY TEACHER
Volume 15: 1-Railroads in Illinois History
For a century and a half the railroad has played a vital role in the personal and economic lives of Illinoisans. The iron horse brought a new spirit of optimism that spread throughout the state and remained strong for decades. Although tensions developed between citizens and railroads, nearly everyone understood that the iron horse meant a welcome change from the past. This transportation form embraced new technologies that fostered the interconnectedness of peoples, enhanced business activities, and generally increased prosperity. Yet after World War I the Railway Age began to give way to increased competition from automobiles, buses, and trucks. And except during the era of World War II, the process continued. While passenger trains, depots, and tracks have declined or disappeared, commuter trains continue to haul tens of thousands of riders daily, Amtrak whisks patrons to and from Chicago and several intermediate stations, while freight railroads haul billions of tons of coal, grain, and intermodal cargoes annually.
The initial article in this volume explores the arrival and development of railroads in Illinois. While residents were not the first Americans to encounter the marvels of transport ingenuity, they had early experiences with travel by flanged wheel. At first the state, rather than the private sector, financed railroads. But the stunning financial failure of the Northern Cross Railroad in the 1840s and similar pioneer projects convinced citizens that the only practical way to shatter their isolation would be to attract private investors both domestic and foreign. Observers commonly noted that railroads continually improved, and at times rapidly, with replacement technologies. Progress might mean solid iron rails, more powerful steam locomotives, better and more comfortable passenger equipment, including sleeping and dining cars, and the electric telegraph. And little roads became much bigger through construction, merger, or lease.
The second article continues the theme of the importance of the railroad in the life of Illinois residents. Before widespread usage of automobiles, buses, and airplanes, passenger trains were the means of public transport, and that made depots community focal points. "Train-time" became an important part in the daily pulse of town life. When midwestern
writer Harry Bedwell commented on this event, generations understood fully: "Town and country folk in search of diversion in the idle hours after five o'clock supper attended the passing of the evening local. Girls gathered in groups. In the bare space between sidings, men and boys played catch and pitched horse shoes."
In the third article the importance of Chicago as a railroad center is reviewed. The Windy City was a "wide-awake" place that grew to be the nation's second-largest metropolis in part because of its role as the greatest railroad hub in America. Even with advent of expressways and interstate highways, which allowed vast volumes of motorized traffic, Chicago and its suburbs ("Chicagoland") remain the beneficiaries of the latest in railroad technologies and services.
In the final article change becomes the pronounced theme in the saga of railroads in Illinois. Although people who lived in the nineteenth century would be able to identify a modern railroad, enormous improvements have been a part of the railroad scene, especially since World War II. Today it is piggyback, stack, and coal trains that usually block a road crossing. And the frequency of these movements suggest that it is much too early to write the obituary of the iron horse.
H. Roger Grant
Guest Editor
Illinois History Teacher

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