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The Railroads



Source: Alton Telegraph, December 8, 1838

At an adjourned meeting of the citizens of Alton, at which Cyrus Edwards, Esq., presided, and Stephen Griggs, Esq., acted as Secretary and held at the courtroom on the 30th day of November last, the report of a committee, appointed by a previous meeting, was made by Major Hunter, Chairman, accompanied by a written communication from Messrs. Godfrey, Gilman & Co., on the subject of the railroad stock. Whereupon - On motion of Mr. Griggs, the following resolution was adopted, viz.

Resolved, That (whereas the committee appointed at the last meeting to confer with the stockholders of the Alton and Springfield Railroad, having reported that the principal stockholders are desirous of having the said improvements identified with the general improvements of the State, and are willing with that view to relinquish their stock at par), a committee (with power to fill vacancies) to consist of C. W. Hunter, Charles Howard, S. Griggs, B. Godfrey, S. Ryder, Nathaniel Buckmaster, and Cyrus Edwards meet at Vandalia as soon as practible to confer with any committee or committees that may be appointed from Springfield or Carlinville on the best possible disposition that can be made of the stock, so as to secure a speedy completion of a railroad from Alton to Springfield.

Resolved, That the Secretary of this meeting be requested to notify the citizens of Springfield and Carlinville of the above resolution, and to request the Alton Spectator and Telegraph to publish the same, with a request that the Sangamon Journal, Prairie Beacon, and Illinois Republican copy the same in their respective papers. 

Cyrus Edwards, Chairman.  S. Griggs, Secretary.




Source: Alton Telegraph, June 29, 1839

An unusual degree of activity has pervaded this place during the present week. An efficient commencement has been made on so much of the work on Section No. 1 of the Alton and Mount Carmel Railroad, as lies within the city limits, as well as toward the erection of the depot buildings - our steam mill, after having remained idle for a considerable period, has again got underway, and is now busily engaged in the manufacture of the staff of life - and last, though not least, operations on the foundry have been commenced, and will doubtless be prosecuted with all practicable diligence. We think we may now assure those interested in the prosperity of Alton that she is "going ahead," and will soon take her "equal station among the cities of the earth."




Source: Alton Telegraph, March 13, 1841

It will be observed, by a notice in another column, that books of subscription to the stock of the above company will be opened in this city, as well as in Carlinville and Springfield, on the 19th day of May next, under the provisions of the act published in our last number. The general impression here seems to be that the stock will be readily taken, and that the important work for the carrying on of which it is intended to provide means, will be commenced and prosecuted without delay.




Source: Alton Telegraph, September 25, 1841

The case was tried in the Madison Circuit Court on Tuesday last for the third time, and a verdict of $32 rendered for the Plaintiff. Mr. Buckmaster claimed $1500 damages for the construction of the Alton & Shelbyville Railroad over his farm in the vicinity of Alton. The jury decided, as did their predecessors, that inasmuch as he was one of the principal causes of the location of the road where it is, of which he now complains, he should not be allowed anything more than nominal damages. Counsel for Col. Buckmaster, U. F. Linder and William Martin, Esqrs.  For the State of Illinois, George T. M. Davis, Esq.




Source: Alton Telegraph, November 13, 1841

To the Citizens of Alton:

On the 7th day of April 1837, the Mt. Carmel and Alton Railroad Company, by special contract, yielded the right to make the road to the State of Illinois; the State agreeing to construct the road from Alton to Mt. Carmel, upon certain conditions, and within a limited time. On the 27th of February 1841, the Legislature passed an act to authorize the Mt. Carmel and Alton Company to construct the Southern Cross Railroad. This act confirms to the Company all its original powers and privileges, and extends the term of its charter ten years. It yields to the Company all the work done and materials furnished by the State for the construction of said road; it appoints appraisers to value the materials and work; and provides that the State shall take stock in the Company to the whole amount of the valuation. Thirty eight miles of this road is graded and bridged, the deep cuts are completed, much of the wood work is prepared and on the spot, and more than half the superstructure is laid to Edwardsville. The appointee of the Governor, and of the Company, have discovered a portion of the iron appropriated to this work in Alton, and have transferred it from the custody of the State to the Company. The balance they yet have to seek.  A railroad communication from the falls of the Ohio to Alton is but two hundred and seventy-three miles; by water it is more than six hundred. For five months every year the navigation is either completely closed, or so much impeded that boats are from 10 to 15 days making their way from Louisville to Alton. All the commerce between New Orleans and Louisville and Cincinnati would pass by this road for 5 months in the year. The immense emigration annually pouring itself into the vast regions west of the Mississippi would surely pass over this route instead of risking the navigation of the river for days and weeks. Before confidence can be expected from capitalists abroad, countenance must be given to the work by the citizens at home. The course of the Company is very clear. It is, to appraise the materials at a fair valuation, to preserve them from depredation, and to appropriate them to the road; and should they ultimately fail in their attempt to construct the road, then to return the materials to the State, after deducting the necessary expenses attending on valuation and care. The dormant Company, now revived by the act of the Legislature, have no funds, for at the surrender of their charter to the State, they returned all the money to the stockholders. To print bills forbidding trespass on the materials, to place them under care, and to proceed with the valuation, requires some funds. Some of the directors at the eastern end of the road, from their own private means, have made the necessary advances. That they alone should bear the expense would be neither politic nor just. I therefore appeal to the citizens of Alton and its vicinity, through the medium of your paper, and hope for the expression of their opinion, as to whether they are willing to aid us in endeavoring to complete the unfinished parts of the road, and in hearing the first necessary expenses in transferring the materials from the State to the Company. What is everybody's business is sometimes no body's. Permit me, therefore, to name, at a hazard, some citizens known to me by name or reputation, to act as a committee to call public attention to this matter, and to suggest a proper mode by which the necessary expenses now incurred should be defrayed. If the Hon. William Martin, Mayor of the city, Cyrus Edwards, N. Buckmaster, T. G. Hawley, W. S. Gilman, S. Ryder, E. Marsh, J. G. Lamb, and J. H. Loa, will act without delay in this case, they will subserve the interests of the State, the Company, and the city of Alton. I have now no time to call upon these gentlemen personally. I proceed to Springfield to procure the necessary information for further appraisement. In about six days I shall return, hoping then to receive the instructions of the citizens of Alton. Signed, George Flower.




Source: Alton Telegraph, February 3, 1844

There is a general impression, here and elsewhere, that the charter for the construction of the Alton and Springfield Railroad was lost in consequence of the road not having been commenced within the time limited by law. This is not so. By an amendment adopted at the last Legislature, the time was extended, and the charter preserved. Now is the time for the people of Alton and Springfield to act in this matter. Will they do it?




Source: Alton Telegraph, August 9, 1845

Futile as our efforts may be regarded by many of the readers of the Telegraph in endeavoring to provoke those most interested, to put forth some show of exertion towards securing the stock to be taken, and the road from Alton to Springfield commenced, under the charter of the Morgan and Sangamon Railroad Company, we shall nevertheless persevere in the hope that some good eventually will grow out of it. The great obstacle to something favorable being accomplished is the utter indifference of the citizens of Jacksonville and Springfield about the subject. All admit the feasibility of the undertaking - the liberality of the charter - the productiveness of the investment - and the great importance of the work as a prominent link in the chain of intercommunication between the Mississippi River and the seaboard. Yet there is no action on the part of those whose influence, if properly exerted, would secure the construction of the road. In almost every other state in the Union, railroads are being constructed by private enterprise, not one of which will prove a better investment than the one from Alton to Springfield. Every view that can be taken of the subject will confirm the estimates of the friends of the road as to its profit; and as "profit" is the great desideration with all capitalists, there is no reaon why this stock should not be taken, as well as that of a similar kind in other states.


There can be probably no time more auspicious than the present to review the arguments that have so often been adduced by the friends of this work in support of its construction. A railroad is now in operation between the Illinois River at Meredosia and Springfield, the capital of this state. It passes through Jacksonville and over an extent of the finest and most productive portion of Illinois. In the vicinity of this railroad, vast quantities of wheat are raised, which the farmers are anxious to get into market early, that it may command the highest price. Through the assistance of Pitts' unrivaled threshing machines, which are now in use all over this state, a farmer, in the course of two or three days, can have his entire crop threshed, cleaned, and ready for market. He relies upon sending this crop to the Illinois River, via the Springfield and Meredosia Railroad; hence by the Illinois River to Alton or St. Louis for sale. Is he enabled to do so? Let the present state of the Illinois river, and the high rates of freight asked by the few boats that can navigate that sluggish stream, answer the interrogatory. The farmer cannot reach market by his own teams to any advantage, from the facts that it will take him from four to five days to perform the trip, and that he can only carry but a very small portion of his crop at a load; whereas, if the railroad and river communication was unobstructed, he could, if satisfied with the price, send his entire crop forward at once, and have it reach market in half the time he can now bring a few bushels only by his own conveyance.


The Morgan and Sangamon Railroad contemplates its termination from Alton at Berlin, halfway between Jacksonville and Springfield. It thus taps the very heart of this state, embracing its most highly cultivated and productive portion. If the road from here to Berlin was completed, instead of the farmer or the merchant in the interior receiving wheat or other produce in pay for his goods, being compelled to send the same to the Illinois River, there to be stored, subjected to the commission merchant's charges, and the great delay from impediments in the navigation of that river, he could forward his grain or produce of any kind, either from Springfield, Jacksonville, or any of the intermediate points on the line of the Springfield and Meredosia Railroad, directly to the head navigation of the Mississippi River, where at all times he could command the highest market price. The importance of this cannot be questioned by any member of society capable of exercising in the remotest degree his reasoning faculties. Nor can it be doubted, that if the road from here to Berlin was finished, it would put thousands and tens of thousands of dollars annually into the pockets of the farmers and other portions of the community. At the same time, it is equally as clear that the products of the country that would be inevitably tributary to this road and the Springfield and Meredosia Road, would furnish a quantity of freight that far surpasses any calculation that has heretofore been made by its friends.


The same argument will be applicable to passengers that would pass over this road as has been made by us to freight. There are now two lines of stages [stagecoaches] between St. Louis and Springfield, passing over different roads each alternate day, and making a daily line between the above two cities. Those stages have for weeks been running loaded with all the passengers they can carry, and unable to meet the necessities of the traveling public. This arises from the impossibility of ascending the Illinois River. If the railroad from Alton was finished, all these passengers, and hundreds of others that now daily go in private conveyances, would necessarily avail themselves of the benefit of this road, on account of expedition, economy, and convenience. The stages charge five dollars from St. Louis to Springfield. The highest estimate, in all the calculations ever made3 by the friends of the railroad, has been three dollars; which in all probability would be reduced to two dollars after the first season, and then enable the company to divide twelve percent, after creating a large sinking or contingent fund. Passengers could be transported over this road for what it now costs them in most of instances for actual traveling expenses, exclusive of their stage fare.


But it is not to the down freight alone that this great advantage would be derived by the completion of this road. All the merchants in the interior would be equally if not more benefited. Their merchandise, salt, iron, and heavy articles of groceries, could be carried over it for a less sum than what they now pay by boat from St. Louis or Alton to Meredosia and Beardstown; thus saving not only storage and commission, at which ever of those places they shipped to, but the inland navigation by wagons from the Illinois River to Jacksonville, Springfield, &c.  We appeal to the daily experience of every merchant in both of these places, whether we are not correct in this. And if they will divest themselves of prejudice, and look calmly at this important subject, they cannot avoid acknowledging the vast benefit this road would confer upon Jacksonville, Springfield, and Alton, as well as the surrounding counties that would be of necessity tributary to them as receiving and shipping points via the railroad.


Let us recur to one other view of the subject before bringing this article to a close. If we will examine every report that has been made to the Legislature of Illinois, upon the subject of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, we will find one of its greatest calculations as to utility is based upon the assumed data, that it would be the means of supplying this section, as well as the interior of the state, with those great and indispensable articles - lumber and salt - at less rates and in greater quantities than they are now supplied with, from the southern route. At the time these reports were made, facts warranted such a conclusion. But the experience and rapid advancement of the past few years have dissipated entirely this proposition. Both of these articles are bulky, and the cost of transportation by wagons consequently very large in proportion to the value of the respective articles. If salt and lumber are to be supplied via the Canal, there is not only a reshipment from the termination of the Canal, by the river, to the point whence it is to be wagoned, but the additional heavy expenses consequent upon wagoning. This necessarily would bring pine lumber so high as almost to deprive the interior of its use. But what would be the case, if the railroad from Alton to a point intersecting the Springfield and Meredosia Road was finished? Let ascertained and indisputable facts solve the proposition. There has been brought down the Mississippi River, this season, from the pine regions on the St. Croix and Wisconsin Rivers, between seven and eight million feet of pine lumber of the finest quality. This lumber reaches Alton, without any expense of transportation, except the cost of the hands who guide and protect these rafts as they float upon the bosom of the Father of Waters undisturbed, from the point they enter it, until they reach Alton or St. Louis, their place of destination. Pine lumber has been sold here, of the finest quality, for ten dollars a thousand, and from that to twelve and a half dollars. From here it could be transported via the railroad into the interior of the state at a cost of transportation that would place it at the door of the consumer at a rate not exceeding and in many instances less than he now pays for oak lumber at our sawmills through the country.


As the demand increases, the sawmills on the Wisconsin and St. Croix river, surrounded by inexhaustible pineries, would increase, so that lumber shipped from Chicago, via the Canal, never could compete, as to price, with that for which at all times it could be procured here. There are already at Alton three very large lumberyards, one of which is the Agency of an extensive company owning mills on the Wisconsin; and a farmer or other person, if he desired to fence or build, could give his bill to this Agent, and in due course of time receive his lumber of the very quality and size he wished. As to salt, the price it can at this very time be purchased for in St. Louis, and the cost that would attend its transportation from here to Jacksonville or Springfield, compared with the present selling price at Chicago, without adding transportation by the Canal, then by the Illinois River, and then by wagons into the interior, will satisfy the most skeptical that it is to this direction, and not by the northern route, that the center of the state must look for its supply of that indispensable necessary of life. Salt can be purchased from the New Orleans boats, delivered at Alton, just as low as the St. Louis merchant can buy it. We assert this form the knowledge we possess of its having been done time and time again. A merchant or farmer in the interior could, consequently, get his salt at St. Louis rates by simply adding the trifling expense he would have to pay for its transportation upon the railroad. If this road was now finished, how many merchants from the interior would be buying salt from the St. Louis boats deliverable at Alton, and having it transported on the railroad, that now will not buy because they cannot procure its transshipment up the Illinois River at any rate; and to pay the storage in St. Louis until it could be so shipped, would add so much to its prime cost as to render the investment an unprofitable one!


We could go on, and demonstrate beyond controversy other propositions equally as clear as the above, all of which would show that it is for the interest of the whole country through which this road is to pass, that it should be constructed, and that the investment in its stock could not but prove a most lucrative one. But we have unconsciously spun out this article to a much greater length than we anticipated when we first commenced penning it. If the road from Springfield to Meredosia was made to terminate at Jacksonville, and the stretch from Berlin to Alton completed, it would build up Jacksonville and Springfield equally, if not more than Alton, and would be the means of creating one of the most desirable investments for capitalists in this or any other state in the Union. May we not hope that the papers in both Jacksonville and Springfield will give to this subject a share of their attention, and that the energies of their respective editors will be brought to bear, in properly placing this matter before their citizens and the country at large?




Source: Alton Telegraph, November 29, 1845

At a public meeting of the citizens of Alton, held at the Common Council Room on Saturday, November 22d, Captain S. Ryder was appointed Chairman, and S. R. Dolbee, Secretary. N. D. Strong, Esq., after stating the object of the meeting, offered the following resolution, which was adopted, to-wit:


Resolved, that the Hon. N. Pope and Messrs. D. J. Baker, Samuel G. Bailey, S. Griggs, G. W. Chapman, S. Wise, George T. M. Davis, Samuel Lesure, Isaac Scarritt, J. W. Chickering, Joseph Gillespie, George Smith, C. Edwards, B. K. Hart, William Martin, Benjamin Godfrey, and S. Ryder, be appointed delegates to represent the city of Alton and vicinity in the Railroad Convention to be holden at Springfield, on the 1st Monday in December next. On motion, it was ordered that the delegates have power to fill vacancies in case any of those now appointed should be unable to attend. On motion, it was ordered that the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the Chairman and Secretary, and published in the Alton Telegraph. 


Signed by S. Ryder, Chairman, and S. R. Dolbee, Secretary




Source: Alton Telegraph, April 2, 1847

It will be seen that books are to be opened for the subscription of stock to construct a railroad from Alton in Madison County, to Springfield in Sangamon County. The Legislature of Illinois granted two charters for the construction of railroads. One of them authorizes the construction of a road from the city of Alton on the Mississippi River, to Springfield, the seat of government of the state of Illinois. The other gives the right to build a railroad from Springfield to Danville, on the east line of the state. The road to Alton will terminate there, where the largest steamboats can always receive and discharge freight; a place at least four hundred miles below the head of navigation for steamboats on the Upper Mississippi, from whence the merchandise brought from the East can be conveyed for hundreds of miles to the North, and thousands of miles to the South; and for thousands of miles up the Missouri River, the mouth of which is only two miles and a half below the city of Alton. If this line of railroad was constructed, the whole travel of the Southern states would be directed to the Norht, through this thoroughfare, during the spring and summer months. This Western terminus at Alton is the farthest point South, in Illinois, where a railroad can reach the left bank of the Mississippi, on ground that is always above the annual high waters of that river. In this respect, as well as in many others, Alton has a decided advantage over St. Louis, for the termination of a railroad. In Illinois, opposite St. Louis, the country is low and flat for many miles, is overflowed more or less every year, and when thus overflowed, is covered with water from three to seven feet deep. These are among the considerations that should induce Eastern capital to embark in an enterprise that will profitably unite the Father of Waters and the vast business of the population that are settled and are settling upon its shores, with the cities of Boston and New York. The people of the West, therefore, call upon the capitalists of the East to take stock in these roads, the profits of which must make the investment safe, and the construction of which will be the commencement of that great thoroughfare that will hereafter annihilate space between the East and the West.




Source: Alton Telegraph, April 16, 1847

The undersigned commissioners will open books of subscription for the stock of the Alton and Springfield Railroad Company at the following named times and places, to wit at the office of the Alton Marine and Fire Insurance Company in the city of Alton, on the 8th day of May, A. D. 1847; at the American House in the city of Springfield on the 10th day of May, 1847; and at the principal _______, in the town of Jacksonville, on the 25th day of May 1847. The books to remain open until all the stock is subscribed. The amount of stock to be subscribed on the first opening of the books if five hundred thousand dollars, which is divided into shares of one hundred dollars each, five dollars on each share is required to be paid to the commissioners at the time of subscribing for stock.  Commissioners Simeon Ryder, Benjamin Godfrey, Robert Dunlap, Thomas Clifford, Robert Ferguson, and William Martin.




Source: Alton Telegraph, May 7, 1847

At a meeting of the citizens of Alton, held at the old courtroom, on Friday evening, April 30th, the object of which was to devise appropriate means to secure the construction of a railroad from Alton to Springfield, and to interchange views as to the adoption of a general railroad policy that will promote the interests of the state of Illinois. Benjamin Godfrey, Esq., was appointed chairman, and William Martin, Secretary.


Whereupon, the meeting was addressed by the Hon. Joseph Gillespie, Senator from Madison County, and by the Hon. A. W. Cavarly, former Senator from Greene County, and also by Andrew Miller, Esq., Sheriff of Madison County, and Edward Keating, Esq.  These gentlemen were severally called upon to present their views on the subject under consideration. They responded to the call in eloquent, appropriate, and impressive speeches that were full of good sense, and that breathed a spirit of justice and liberality towards all parts of the state of Illinois, while they impressed upon the audience by sound argument the necessity of sustaining our interest, as a state, by terminating all works of Internal Improvement at a point where towns and cities can be built within our own limits. After the business of the meeting had been closed, the assembly resolved itself into a meeting to take into consideration the appointment of a delegation from Alton and Madison County, to attend the River and Harbor Convention, to be held at Chicago. Resolved, That nineteen delegates be appointed on behalf of the citizens of Alton and Madison County, to attend the River and Harbor meeting to be held at Chicago, on the 5th day of July, A. D. 1847.  It was further resolved that said delegation should be appointed by the Chairman, whereupon the Chairman appointed the following gentlemen to compose said delegation, viz: Hon. Nathaniel Pope, David J. Baker, Simeon Ryder, Hon. Joseph Gillespie, Benjamin K. Hall, Norton Johnson, Robert Ferguson, Moses G. Atwood, Nelson G. Edwards, Levi Davis, Lewis B. Parsons, William Martin, Hon. James Semple, Edward Keating, Hon. Robert Smith, Captain William N. Wickliffe, Andrew Miller, John James, and Robert Dunlan. On motion, it was resolved that Benjamin Godfrey, Esq., Chairman of the meeting, be added to said delegation.



Proposed Railroad Route, July 23, 1847




Source: Alton Telegraph, July 23, 1847

We have had engraved an accurate map of the line of the projected railroad - copied from that submitted by Mr. Ellsworth to the Lafayette meeting, with some additions and corrections - which will be found above, and shows that the root from Springfield to Buffalo, by way of Decatur, Danville, Lafayette and Toledo, is nearly in a straight line, and that it can easily connect with Boston, New York, Albany, Detroit, Sandusky, Springfield, Dayton, Cincinnati, Madison Indianapolis, Michigan City, and Chicago, by railroads already constructed or under contemplation. From Springfield, it may readily be carried to Quincy, for the accommodation of the trade of that growing city and the country adjoining, as well as of the Upper Mississippi, and the extensive regions it waters; while the road to Alton will be the principal thoroughfare for the East and the West, and open an interior communication between New Orleans and Boston, and the principal cities and towns located within two hundred miles of the line of the direct route, which for safety, convenience, facility of construction, and the exuberant fertility of the country through which it runs, cannot be equaled by any other. On this latter route, stock, to the amount of $100,000 or upwards, has been already taken by the citizens of Alton, Springfield, and other placed on the line of the road; and it is generally believed by those who have made it a subject of study and calculation, that this stock will eventually pay a better percent than that of any other railroad yet constructed or projected in the United States. From Alton to St. Louis - a distance of 20 or 22 miles - the communication will be perfected by steamboat in a little upwards of an hour - the Luella having often run between the two points in 75 or 80 minutes. This is about as fast as it would be by a railroad, if one ever could be constructed over the low grounds and swamps of the American Bottom - which would be attended with vast expanse, and is believed by good judges to be wholly impracticable, while the trouble, delay, and cost of crossing the river - which it would be necessary to incur should the railroad be continued to St. Louis, will be avoided. But, we have neither time nor room to enlarge upon the subject at the present time.




Source: Alton Telegraph, September 10, 1852

Yesterday the railroad from this city to Springfield was finished - the last rail spiked down - and regular trips will probably be made throughout its entire length in a few days. It is one of the best roads in the Union, laid with the heaviest H rail, upon a foundation which will admit of the highest speed. Two of the fastest steamers in America will run in connection with the road between St. Louis and Alton, and the trip can be made from Springfield to St. Louis in four hours.




Source: Alton Telegraph, September 10, 1852

To Captain Benjamin Godfrey:

Dear Sir,

In the completion of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad, we recognize one of the most important achievements yet made in the work of internal improvements in the West, and a most triumphant beginning of that stupendous scheme of Railroads by which our State is soon to be intersected. The labor, care and responsibility of accomplishing such a work was such as most men might, ordinarily, have shrunk from, yet your fellow-citizens have seen, with admiration and grateful feelings, that your wisdom, energy and indomitable perseverance have been adequate to the task. They see, also, that your success in bringing this first great work of the kind in our State to a successful issue, must and will do much to retrieve the suffering credit of our State, and inspire confidence, so as to render comparatively easy of accomplishment all subsequent efforts in our State of similar kind.  The undersigned, therefore, representing the views of your fellow-citizens generally, desire to give some simple public expression of their admiration, and grateful sense of your efforts as aforesaid; and to this end would most respectfully, but earnestly request that they may be favored with your company at a public dinner at the Franklin House, at such time as you may be pleased to designate.


Mark Pierson John A. Bruner M. L. Henry R. Debow Isaac Scarritt
E. L.  Dimmock Charles Phinney P. B. Whipple John Dye William Shattuck
H. Beall J. W. Schweppe John L. Ferguson D. S. Hoaglan J. W. Wise
J. L. Blair O. M. Adams G. D. Sidway William H. Turner Timo Souther
R. L. Metcalf William M. Hart A. Ballinger W. T. Hollister D. D. Ryrie
Nich Challacombe Thomas Brown S. Wise A. K. Root Robert Dunlap
George Cummings Edward L. Baker Henry S. Baker R. Flagg E. D. Topping
Thomas Dimmock John W. Calvin C. A. Walker J. D. Bruner B. A. Carpenter
W. W. Cary John Chaney F. B. Cole G. H. Steingrandt P. W. Randle
John Quigley M. W. Carroll J. A. Ryrie Henry Lea A. T. Hawley
D. W. Collett David Simms C. A. Murray Sam Avis J. P. Batchelder
F. Hewit W. H. Bailhache C. G. Mauzy W. A. Holton H. C. Sweetzer
James W. Smith Wilham Vale William Blackmore Charles Trumbull B. F. Barry
I. E. Hardy S. E. Lesure L. S. Metcalf Joseph Quigley J. C. Tibbitt
S. W.  Robbins James Metcalf Dan Ryan A. B. Platt C. Ryan
William G. Pinckard D. F. Owings B. T. Burke John Atwood B. I. Gilman
A. Whittaker J. J. Mitchell John Bailhache Dan Blodget George W. Long
A. W. Corey John P. Ash John Cunningham L. Guild Charles W. Hunter
E. L. Hamard C. M. Crandall J. M. MOrgan Jona Quarton W. A. Platt
R. Veech A. Mather John Kilbern T. L. Waples Joseph Wendt
John E. Broughton L. J. Clawson Thomas M. Hope J. W. Blanchard William Tomlinson
H. W. Wright Fred Humbert George T. Brown William R. Payson J. D. Burns
S. R. Dolbee William Nixon Thomas Dunford W. H. Bruner D. C. Adams
M. G. Atwood        




Source: Alton Telegraph, March 27, 1861

Yesterday moring we accepted an invitation from Mr. John Mack, the obliging conducted of the Alton train on the Terre Haute, Alton & Slt. Louis Railroad, to take a ride out to the Junction. As train was about to start, Mack suggested that perhaps we would like to ride on the locomotive. This seemed to us a happy thought, and we gladly took our position on the tool box, where we could have a full view of the track. It went very nicely at first - the train gliding along at a moderate rate of speed - and we enjoyed the novelty of our situation hugely. But presently the outskirts of the city were passed, the engineer pulled a rope, the engine gave a shriek and a bound, and we were tearing away at what seemed to us a fearful speed. We felt as though we were being shot from a cannon, and wondered how it would seem to be a cannon ball. Then, as rounding a curve, we distinguished at the distance of perhaps a quarter of a mile, a number of hogs on either side of the embankment. They did not seem to regard their position as being at all dangerous, and made no effort to get out of the way. We were not afraid, but could not help wondering what would be the consequence if one of those hogs should just step on the track. Now we have never heard of a train being thrown from the track by a hog, but as the engine neared them, we felt an iirresistable inclination to seize the straps of our boots and hold ourself up, but we didn't do it. The hogs passed, we began to picture to oourself how a locomotive would look coming round the curve at the speed we were making - wondered how it would feel to be smashed. But we looked up and saw the telegraph poles, and then we knew that at that very instant, perhaps the faithful instrument at the next station was ticking the message - "Train No. --- Left Alton Station on Time."  And we feel sure that a collision was out of the question. Arrived at Junction [East Alton], we hastened to take a place in the coach for the return trip. Now we do not believe that we are remarkably timid, and we know that on this well-regulated road there is no danger. But if any of our readers think they can ride on a locomotive for the first time, without an increase of pulse, let them try it! Mack, don't you put us on the "mashoen" again!




Two Men and a Boy Killed Outright - Large Number of Others Injured

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 16, 1890

A collision took place last night on the Bluff Line, about 6 o'clock. The two trains were the construction train containing the workmen engaged on the extension at Piasa and the passenger train, which leaves here for Springfield. Roscoe Cutter was the engineer on the construction train, and Frank Lee was the engineer on the passenger train. The two trains were running at a high rate of speed, the construction train engine backing down ahead of the cars. It was the duty of the brakeman on the construction train to stand at the switch and signal the passenger whether the construction train had gone or not. Last night he left before the passenger train had arrived, and from this the engineer supposed that the train had passed and he went on up the track. The construction train also pulled out about this time, and when about one and one-half miles above Clifton Terrace, while turning around a curve, the engines came together. Engineer Lee saw the train coming and put on the air brakes, and this prevented the cars from being telescoped. Both engineers saw the approaching accident, jumped from their engines toward the bluffs, and thus escaped serious injuries. The two engines came together with a crash and were completely demolished, the ties which were on the train were hurled over the cars upon the men, pinning some of them in a horrible manner. The men and passengers were hurled in confusion from the cars, and many lay helpless on the ground while their sobs and groans were terrible to hear. Supt. Seymour immediately came to Clifton and sent word to Alton, where a train was immediately sent up to the scene of the accident.



Little Charles McGee, aged 14 years, whose home is in Alton, was water boy for the men, and was sitting on the pilot of the engine at the time of the collision. His head was cut entirely off, and parts of his body were strewn for many feet along the track.


Peter Smith, an unmarried man from Springfield, fireman on the passenger engine, was caught between the boiler head and the tender of the engine, and partly scalded and partly roasted to death. He was putting in coal at the time, for his shovel was between his legs when found. He could not be gotten out until the coal was removed and the wood cut.


The last one killed was John Murray, a laborer, who had a hole in his right side and over his heart was a bruise.



Mike Cantwell, hurt about the head seriously and also internally.

C. J. Owens, postal clerk, was thrown through the partition and hurt on chest.

Joe Daly, conductor on the construction train, supposed to be fatally injured, back and side wounds, and hurt inwardly.

Frank Conway, express messenger, bruised on left side, knocked out of the car by the tank of the passenger engine, telescoping the baggage car.

Frank Lee, engineer on passenger train, sprained ankle from jumping and head bruised.

Pat McElligott, left leg broken and hurt internally, thought to be seriously.

Henry Unterbrink, fireman on construction train, cut in head and hurt in hips.


Henry Miller of Fieldon, was wounded in back.

Frank Schattgen was thrown from his seat in the car to the platform, on his head.

Superintendent Seymour was bruised badly about the body, had one leg cut and nose broken.


Doctors Haskell, Gibson, Schuessler, and Halliburton went up and did all that was in their power to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded. A company of ladies on the passenger train, going to Jerseyville and Springfield, did excellent work in caring for the wounded. It was indeed a sorrowful company which came back on the train at 10 o'clock last night, carrying the dead and wounded. The depot was crowded with people who were looking for friends, and many tears were shed even by the stoutest. Nearly all the wounded were taken to the hospital where they were tenderly cared for by those in charge.


The Loss:

The engines are not materially damaged. It is estimated that $2,000 or $3,000 will make them all right. The track at the point of the wreck is higher on the south side than on the other, and this threw the train over toward the bluffs. This probably saved many lives, which would have been lost if the track had been level.



Mrs. Orville A. Snedeker and two boys, Miss Mamie Tyson, Miss Lucy Brownlee, and Messrs, Robert T. Brock, Harry Chapman, David Wykoff, Guy Edwards. of Jerseyville; Misses H. R. Taylor, S. H. Taylor, and W. B. Baker, of Springfield, Illinois, were on the train but escaped with slight injuries. Many of the men speak in glowing terms and feel thankful to the ladies who so kindly rendered them all the assistance possible before the physicians got to the scene. They came to this city last night and took the train for their homes this morning.


Mr. Mike Cantwell, the section boss who is supposed to be fatally injured, lives at Tallula in Menard County, where he has a wife and ten children dependent on him for support. He is an honest, industrious man, and remitted his wages regularly to his family.


Postal Clerk C. J. Owen's escape from death was almost miraculous. The tender of the engine crashed through the baggage compartment, but not quite far enough to crush Owen, but he was hurled violently against the stove and is severely bruised all over. He is a crippled Union soldier, with a useless right arm, and this limb received additional injuries. He supposed Mr. Conway, the express agent who was in the forward compartment, was killed, but as he lay helpless on the floor, Conway was the first man to come to his aid. The latter had heard the warning whistle and rushed to the back of the car in time to save his life. Owen was able to give directions about his mail, and the letters were placed in a sack and brought back to the Alton office on the train that brought down the wounded. This mail was worked by the Alton office and forwarded by other routes. It will be only slightly delayed. The Alton office also notified the Superintendent of Railway Mail Service of the accident, and the disposition made of the mail. Captain Owen was able to get up this morning and started for his home at Camp Point.


Conductor Burrell's daughter, standing in the aisle when the collision occurred, was thrown almost from one end of the car to the other, but not seriously hurt.


Fireman Peter Smith was a genial, pleasant fellow, whose smiling face won him a host of friends. His tragic death brings sadness to many hearts. His body was not recovered from the wreck until about eleven o'clock.


It has been customary for the construction train to run the caboose car in ahead of the engine, but fortunately, this trip the engine was ahead. Had the train been made up as usual, the caboose would have been crushed between the two engines and probably not one of the 40 or 50 section hands onboard would have escaped death.


The Wabash wrecking train arrived at the scene of the disaster at 5 o'clock this morning.


Conductor Burrill, who was so badly hurt last winter in a collision at Challacombe, escaped this time uninjured.


When Trainmaster Cooke received the telegram of the disaster, he immediately called on Agent Arnold of the Big Four, who wired St. Louis for permission to take an engine and car to the scene of the disaster. In two minutes the permission came with instructions to do all he could for the unfortunates. It was only a brief period until Agent Arnold had his train ready, taking with him Samuel Miller, foreman of freight department, D. Bison, yard master, Gus Patterson, car inspector, and Charles Mulligan. These men worked with a will at the wreck until the dead were all taken out of the debris, and the wounded were safely placed in the hospital or their homes. They are entitled to the thanks of the community, as being employees of another railroad there was no more obligation resting upon them than on other persons. They did good work in behalf of the victims of the disaster.


Ed Locke, a farmer living near the scene of the wreck, went home and loaded himself down with provision and refreshments for the relief corps. His kind generosity was deeply appreciated by the recipients. The Relief Corps finished up its work and got back to Alton about 12 o'clock, bringing the dead body of the fireman with them. The wounded had previously been brought down and taken to the hospital.


Charley Collins, Engineer Swift's assistant, made a good jump. He saw fireman Unterbrink leap from his engine, and taking it for granted that something was wrong, sprang from the train, lighting on the rocks below, with very slight damages.




Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, August 18, 1890

The funeral of little Charles McGee, who met with such a tragic death in the wreck on the Bluff Line, took place yesterday at 2:30 p.m. from the Cathedral. The services were conducted by Rev. Father Snyder. There were flowers in abundance and many beautiful floral offerings. The church was crowded with sympathizing friends of the family, who had assembled to pay the last tribute of respect. The pallbearers were Michael and Ned Thornton, John Ryan, Thomas Haagen, Ned Whalen, and Frank Schwartze.


The funeral of Patrick McElligott, another victime of the terrible Bluff Line disaster, took place this morning at 10 o'clock from the Cathedral. The church was packed to its utmost capacity, and the funeral procession was one of the longest ever seen in Alton. The services were conducted by Rev. Father Snyder. Deceased was 22 years and 6 months of age at the time of his death. He was injured in the Bluff Line wreck on Friday evening, and was not expected to live through the night as he had one leg broken and his spleen had been ruptured. However he survived until Saturday evening, when he passed away, leaving a large circle of relatives and friends to mourn his death.


In accordance with the rites of the Catholic church, John Murray was buried from the Cathedral at 3 p.m. today. The interment took place in the Catholic graveyard in North Alton [Greenwood or St. Patrick's Cemetery]. Mr. Murray is one of the Bluff Line disaster victims, and was without relatives. His home was unknown, and there were none but strangers to follow his body to the tomb. A sad end, certainly.



Coroner's Conclusion

Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, August 19, 1890

Coroner Bonner and his jury were engaged today in taking testimony in regard to the Bluff Line accident. One witness testified today that he saw Lesson give the signal to go ahead, which signified that the track was supposed to be clear. All the testimony was heard today, and after deliberation rendered the following:



In the matter of the inquisition on the bodies of Charles McGee, Peter Smith, John Murray and Patrick McElligott, deceased, held at Alton, Illinois, the 16th, 18th and 19th of August, 1890. We the undersigned jurors sworn to inquire of the death of Charles McGee, Peter Smith, John Murray and Pat McElligott, on oath, do find that they came to their death by a collision between a construction train, engine No. 4, and a passenger train, engine No. 11, on the St. Louis, Alton & Springfield Railway, above Clifton, Illinois, on August 15, 1890, between the hours of 6 and 7 p.m.  The said Charles McGee, Peter Smith and John Murray being instantly killed, and that Patrick McElligott died on the 16th from injuries in said collision. And we further find that said accident was caused by negligence on the part of employees of said railroad, and particularly on the part of Richard J. Lesson, the switchman.  Signed by A. C. Williams, Foreman, H. Weaver, H. W. Marsh, A. L. Floss, J. H. Warren, and Anton Sauvage.


Card of Thanks: We return our sincere thanks to our friends and neighbors for the manifest expression of sympathy tendered us at the untimely and fatal ending of our son's life in the Bluff Line accident. Signed by Roger McElligott and family.



Union Station in Alton, IL



Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 9, 1899

Another movement has been made by the Burlington in its attempt to enter Union Depot and make of the depot a union station with a joint ticket seller for all the roads. Mr. J. E. May, Superintendent of the Belt line, went to Cincinnati last night and the wise ones claim to see in this trip a second move in the work of consolidation of the big railroads now doing business in Alton. At Cincinnati is the general headquarters of the Big Four, and as the Big Four owns one-half interest in the station, its consent is necessary before the Burlington can enter. The Big Four is a competitor of the Burlington for the local business, and for that reason might object to the arrangement that would bring competition closer home. It is said that the errand of Supt. May is for the purpose of making a deal with the Big Four authorities to secure their consent. The C. & A. is reported as willing to give the Burlington entrance, as the Burlington does not compete with the C. & A. in the St. Louis - Alton business. The local employees of all the roads now acknowledge that they put credence in the story. At first, the story, as the Telegraph published it, was scoffed at by the unbelievers, who were disposed to look upon it as imaginary. Facts are very convincing arguments, and now the most skeptical admit there is truth in the story. The Burlington pays the Bluff Line $300 a month for terminal facilities here. The Belt Line has a track leading to Union Station, and this could be used at a less cost and a great saving be made thereby. The Burlington has long sought entrance to Union Station, and at one time had plans drawn for remodeling Union Station. A few weeks time will bring to light the whole truth, and then it is predicted the Burlington will enter Union Station. It will be remembered that while Mr. J. C. Bramhall was agent of the Burlington in Alton, the question of a genuine union station was mooted. Mr. Bramhall was originator of the proposition, and outlined to the Telegraph a plan whereby it could be accomplished.



Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 10, 1904
Fifty two years ago, September 9, the construction of the Chicago and Mississippi railroad, later the Alton and Sangamon, and still later the Chicago and Alton, was completed, and the first train went over the road. Mr. William Huskinson, who was actively engaged in the building operations of the road and who was for many years a roadmaster for the company, says the first train consisted of an engine and three coaches, and its arrival in Alton was welcomed most warmly by the people generally. The road terminated at the present freight depot, and passengers and freight were .....[unreadable] .... completion of the C. & A. extension in 1864. Times were good in Alton, and some of the old time prosperity which existed previous to the financial crash of 1837 returned. Just before that crash, lots on the riverfront where the McPike building, the Boston store and all the buildings north to the old water works station sold for from $300 to $400 a front foot. Mr. Huskinson celebrated the anniversary quietly Friday, and in memory has gone back to those rushing, bustling, money-making days, when he was commanding men and building a road destined to become one of the greatest in the world. He came to Alton in 1847, and most of the years since then have been spent in Alton and in up-building and advancing the interests of Alton in every way he could. He frequently served the city in official capacities and always served it well. He is in good health, enjoys reading and likes to converse with his friends and of these he has a large host. Besides Mr. Huskinson, there is only one other person, so far as known, now living in the Altons who was engaged actively in the building of the road, and that is Mr. Thomas McGinnis Sr., of North Alton. The latter gentleman built the first house in almost all the towns between here and Springfield; the first house being a section house. He also built bridges, culverts, etc., for the road, and after its completion had charge of the fence building gangs. Although well on in years, he too is in fairly good health, and his mental faculties are wonderfully alive and bright.



City Council Records Back in 1849-50 Show That Alton Gave $100,000 to Help Build the Railroad
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 17, 1910
City Clerk Barth Kennedy and City Engineer T. M. Long have been putting in some of their spare time hunting up old city records for the accommodation of a historian of the Chicago & Alton railroad, who is trying to fill in some broken places in the railroad's history by getting facts about the early days of the Chicago & Alton. It seems that the company has lost its records of how the railroad came to be built, and the records of the city of Alton give a very full account of it. Had it not been for the aid and support given by Alton, the railroad bearing its name would never have been built. Alton gave $100,000 to the project, and also bore the expenses of a financial agent who went east to interest inventors in the project of building a line from Alton to Springfield, known as the Alton and Sangamon Railroad. Part of this bond issue still hangs over Alton.

February 28, 1849, the city agreed to indemnify agents for expenses of going east to see investors, not to exceed $750. It was also voted not to give less than $50,000 to assist in building the road. November 5 it was voted to give $150,000 toward the railroad expenses and a bond issue proposition to that effect carried by a vote of 232 to 4, in the city.

November 13, the city council voted to give only $100,000, subscribing for 1,000 shares of the railroad stock, the city bonds to bear interest at 6 percent, which would be given in payment for the stock. The members of the council at that time were Messrs. Bailhache, Barry, Breath, Flagg, Metcalf, Trumbull, who voted for the proposition, and Messrs. Atwood, Ferguson, Hayden, Kellenberger and Levis, who voted against the proposition. Robert Ferguson, Stephen Pierson and Issac Scarritt were named as trustees for the city bonds issued to help out the financing of the Alton. Later, a string was tied to the gift of $100,000, and at the meeting, December 28, it was voted that the city's share would be paid, when $200,000 had been given by individuals along the line and a like sum had been subscribed by eastern capitalists. This made up a half million dollars.

A proposition submitted to the council by J. J. Shipman, December 28, agreed to build the railroad from Alton to Springfield for $950,000, taking the half mission aforementioned and the balance in railroad stock or bonds at par value. E. Marsh of the Alton, Marine & Fire Insurance Company, predecessor of the Alton National Bank, was made custodian of the $20,000, to be paid by the city according to agreement, as a five percent commission the city of Alton to compensate the financial agents who sold the stock of the railroad in the east and along the line, in two blocks of $200,000 each.

Later a controversy arose over the delivery of these bonds, but they were delivered, and even later still some city official tried to repudiate the bonds, but in compliance with the public demand the bonds were not repudiated.

City Clerk Kennedy will typewrite the city records and send them to the Chicago & Alton Railway, so the railroad company can have a complete record of the early day negotiations. Maybe the railroad company may feel a little grateful to Alton when it is considered how much the city did for that railroad when it was trying to get a start.



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