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History of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser

 

THE ALTON AND SANGAMON (SPRINGFIELD) RAILROAD - LATER NAMED THE CHICAGO AND ALTON RAILROAD.

 

The Alton & Sangamon Railroad was spearheaded by Captain Benjamin Godfrey and other Alton businessmen, including Cyrus Edwards, Simeon Ryder, S. Griggs, and Robert Ferguson. Planning stages began in December 1838, and the charter was issued February 27, 1847. Construction began in February 1850, and was completed from Alton to Springfield in 1852. Originally, the line into Alton ran south down Piasa Street, and ended at the depot, between Third and Fourth Street. Tracks were not allowed south of the north side of Third Street. The first train pulled into Alton from Springfield on September 9, 1852.

 

TIMELINE:

February 27, 1847 - Charter for the Alton and Sangamon Railroad issued for a line from Alton to the State capital at Springfield. This line was completed in 1852.

1854 - Line extended to Bloomington as the Chicago and Mississippi Railroad.

1855 - Line extended to Joliet.

1855 - 1856 - Joliet and Chicago Railroad chartered, which was leased by the Chicago and Mississippi, creating a continuous line from Alton to Chicago.

1862 - St. Louis, Alton, and Chicago, and then the Chicago and Alton Railroad formed.

1863 - Alton and the Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne, and Chicago Railroad completed an agreement for the Alton to move from the Illinois Central Depot to the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Depot on Madison Street - later to become the Union Depot, and finally Union Station.

1864 - Chicago and Alton chartered the Alton and St. Louis Railroad to complete its line to East St. Louis.

1870 - Louisiana and Missouri River Railroad running from Louisiana to Springfield, Missouri.

1878 - Kansas City, St. Louis, and Chicago Railroad, running to Kansas City, Missouri.

 

More History of the Chicago and Alton Railroad

 

THE ALTON AND SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD IN PLANNING STAGE
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. Benjamin 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 Charles W. Hunter, Charles Howard, Stephen Griggs, Benjamin Godfrey, Simeon Ryder, Nathaniel Buckmaster, and Cyrus Edwards meet at Vandalia as soon as practicable 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.   Signed, Cyrus Edwards, Chairman. S. Griggs, Secretary.

 

ALTON & SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD STOCK
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.

 

THE CASE OF NATHANIEL BUCKMASTER vs THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
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.

 

ALTON PUBLIC MEETING
Source: The Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, March 27, 1841
A public meeting of the citizens of Alton will be held at the city hall on Monday next, at ten o'clock a.m. to hear the report of the Committee of Gentlemen appointed to confer with the citizens of Springfield, and the State Bank of Illinois, as to the measures to be adopted to complete a railroad from Alton to Springfield. A general attendance is requested. Alton, March 27, 1841.

 

CHARTER FOR ALTON & SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD EXTENDED
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?

 

PLEA GOES OUT TO FINISH RAILROAD FROM BERLIN, ILLINOIS TO ALTON
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 reason 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?

 

PUBLIC MEETING REGARDING THE RAILROAD - DELEGATES CHOSEN TO REPRESENT ALTON
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 Simeon 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, Stephen Griggs, G. W. Chapman, Sebastian 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 Simeon 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 Simeon Ryder, Chairman, and S. R. Dolbee, Secretary

 

SUBSCRIPTION OF STOCK OPENED FOR ALTON AND SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD
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 North, 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.

 

ALTON AND SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD NOTICE
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.

 

MEETING HELD CONCERNING THE RAILROAD
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.

 

ALTON & SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, April 21, 1848
The survey of this railroad is rapidly progressing, and we are gratified to hear that the line of the route which has been selected seems peculiarly favorable. The engineers completed their surveys as far as Carlinville last Saturday evening, and on Monday, began marking out the continuation of the route towards Springfield. We had feared there would be much difficulty in crossing the waters of the Macoupin without great expense, but we are informed that an excellent crossing has been found, where the cost of bridging will be comparatively slight, and there will be no necessity for any high and extended embankment. If this be so, the grading and bridging the railroad from this point to Springfield will be done at much less expense than any seventy miles of railroad in our country. In fact, the greater part of the route will require little more grading than an ordinary turnpike.

Illinois has just begun to develop her resources. But we venture the assertion, that the early completion of this railroad will open a communication with a ready market, for a section of country unequaled in fertility and climate in the whole valley of the Mississippi, and which within ten years, will export more produce than any other portion of the Union of the same extent. That the railroad to Springfield will be completed at an early day we cannot doubt, and that immediately on its completion to that point, it will be extended Northward towards Peru, and Eastward on the great line of travel to the Northern cities, is no longer matter of conjecture. The experience of the past few years has established not only the advantages afforded by railroads, but also the increase of business which must and will attend the procurement of the facility, and we look forward with confidence to the report of the experienced engineers who are now engaged upon this road, for the proof of the correctness of these remarks.

 

CAPTAIN BENJAMIN GODFREY RETURNS
Brings Three Engineers for Railroad Construction
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 26, 1849
We learn that Captain Godfrey returned to this place on Wednesday night from his mission to the East, which, we are much gratified to say, has been completely successful. He was accompanied by three skillful engineers, who are to superintend the construction of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad, and we presume that a portion of the work will be placed under contract at an early day.

 

CONSTRUCTION OF THE ALTON AND SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD BEGUN
Source: Alton Telegraph, February 22, 1850
We are informed that the work upon the railroad has been commenced, a short distance from Alton.

 

PROGRESS OF THE ALTON AND SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 9, 1850
In relation to the progress of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad, we take this occasion to state that all the timber for the depot and engine house has been procured, and is now being sawed; that 3,500 tons of iron for the use of the said road has been purchased and is to leave Loels(?) by the first of October next and be delivered at New Orleans by the first of January following; that the ties have been contracted for and already partly delivered here; and that the contracts for the construction of the locomotives and cars to be used on the road are believed to have been closed by this time. According to the terms of the contract, active operations on the road were to have been commenced on the first of this month, but we learn from a telegraphic dispatch that the principal subcontractor has been detained at Springfield, Ohio, by sickness. He was, however, convalescent, at the last accounts, and is probably now on his way to this city.

 

RAILROAD WORK COMMENCED
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 30, 1850
We are gratified to be able to state that active operations on the Alton and Sangamon Railroad commenced on Monday. A large number of men are now employed, and so soon as the necessary additional implements can be procured, which will be in a few days, the full force will be put on. All the iron, spikes, ties, &c., required for the whole route, have been purchased, and the early completion of this great work may be confidently anticipated. Stockholders should now come forward promptly, and pay the installments regularly as they fall due. We understand that Mr. Joseph Gilmore, formerly of Dayton, Ohio, but for nearly one year past a resident of Alton, has obtained the contract for the first four miles from the terminus on Seventh Street to the Coal Branch. This embraces all the heavy cutting, and is by far the heaviest job on the whole route. The long experience and acknowledged energy of Mr. Gilmore are a sufficient guaranty that his part of the work will be well done and completed in due time, and we hope he will obtain an ample remuneration for his labor and enterprise.

 

WORK ON RAILROAD PROGRESSING
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 6, 1850
The work on the railroad is now progressing finely. About one hundred and fifty hands are constantly employed at the terminus in Alton. We learn that the culvert is to be extended upwards of 1,000 feet immediately, and Piasa Street built over it. Operations have also been commenced near Brighton, about ten miles north of this city.

 

GRANT OF LANDS FOR RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 4, 1850
The law makes provision for a most magnificent donation of the public lands to our State, for the construction of that important thoroughfare, the central railroad. This bill, in connection with that in relation to swamp lands, of which we have not a copy at hand, places under the control of the Legislature an amount of land falling but little short of five million acres! How large a portion of that known as swamp, or overflowed lands, can be reclaimed and rendered fit for cultivation cannot be estimated, until a more accurate survey is had, under laws to be passed by the Legislature. It is estimated that the donation made for the construction of the railroad alone will exceed 2,000,000 acres. This amount of good land, sold even at a low rate, will produce a sufficient sum to ensure the construction of the work, especially as vast sums have been already expanded by the State upon the grading of this road.

Now that we have secured this donation, the next important step is to take care of it. It may not be known to all our readers that a provision of a law was smuggled through our Legislature some years since, by which the State granted to the notorious “Cairo City and Canal Company,” alias the “Great Western Railroad Company,” which had the charter for the construction of the Central road, all lands that might thereafter be donated by Congress to the State of Illinois, to aid in the construction of the Central railroad, which face was accidentally ascertained by our Senators in Congress, who adopted steps to secure a release, and surrender to the State by the above company, of their chartered privileges. This release has been obtained upon certain conditions.

How important to the prosperity of Illinois, both present and prospective, that proper persons be selected as member of the General Assembly, who will be entrusted with affairs of such deep interest to the State at large. Men who will be alive to the public welfare, and who will not allow such outrageous provisions as the above to be smuggled through that body, or we may yet lose all the incalculable benefits to be derived from this grant.

 

ALTON AND SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 1, 1850
The Alton and Sangamon Railroad, when completed to Springfield, will connect with the extension of the Northern Cross Railroad from Springfield to the Eastern State line, 140 miles, which last will there connect with the great chain of railroads through Indiana and Ohio, giving to this portion of the State a fair prospect of making the first continuous route from the Mississippi to the Northern and Eastern markets. An extension from Springfield to La Salle, either under the Charter of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad or the central railroad, by way of Decatur or Springfield, as the case may be, will also open up the Northern markets, and enable us to communicate with all parts of the State. By a connection with the Central road, either by the Alton and Terre Haute Railroad or the Alton and Sangamon Railroad, we can command both the Northern and Southern markets. In reference to a connection of the Alton and Terre Haute Railroad and the Alton and Sangamon Railroad, we await a report from Mr. Crocker, who has just completed his survey of that route, and who will, we have no doubt, fully examine all the points connected with that important work. We believe it is the intention of the parties interested in the Alton and Terre Haute Railroad to build a distinct line to this city [Alton], unless the reasons in favor of the connection alluded to shall be found of sufficient weight to modify their intention, in which case, no doubt the interest of all concerned would be consulted, and union made at such points as would be found on the whole most advantageous.

 

CONSTRUCTION ON THE DEPOT OF THE ALTON AND SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 22, 1850
The foundation walls for the depot of the Alton and Springfield Railroad are now being laid on the company’s lots on Piasa Street, between Fifth and Sixth. The structure is to be 130 feet in length, by 10 in breadth, and will be built of stone.

 

ALTON AND SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 3, 1851
We are pleased to state that notwithstanding cold winter is upon us, the work upon the above road is rapidly progressing. The force employed on the first of this month was 739 men, 95 horses. The Newton Waggoner arrived from below a few days since, bringing 5,200 cedar crossties, to be used in the construction of the road, and the Bucnavisia also delivered another lot of the iron, making total receipts of iron to date, 514 tons. The cedar ties are twelve inches broad, and eight feet long, and will be laid thirty inches from center to center in the road. For size and quality, they exceed anything of the kind we have ever seen. The contractors are hauling out and distributing the iron, preparatory to the commencement of laying the permanent track, which will be undertaken as soon as the season will permit.

 

ALTON AND SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, April 18, 1851
It will be as gratifying to the friends of Internal Improvement in our State at large, as it must be to the stockholders of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad Company, to be informed of the rapid progress of this important work towards its completion. But seven months have elapsed since the first excavation was made. During this comparatively short interval, favored by a remarkably propitious winter, the entire line between Alton and Carlinville, thirty-six miles in length, has been graded. Viaducts, culverts, and the necessary buildings for the use of the road, which will compare favorably with the best in other parts of the Union, have been, or are nearly constructed, and the ties, rails, &c., purchased and partly delivered on the levee at this place [Alton]. Of these, a portion are laid down on the line, ready for use.

A locomotive engine, purchased by the contractors for their own purposes, is daily expected here, thus preparing the way for those now in progress of construction, and the passenger and freight cars soon to follow. And we think we hazard but little in expressing the opinion, that the track to Carlinville will be in traveling condition in all the month of July, and thence to Springfield in November next – the Chief Engineer having nearly or quite concluded his survey by the most eligible direct line authorized by the recent act of the Legislature.

We are credibly informed that the work so far done, as well as the quality, weight, and form of the rail, the ties, engines, passenger and freight cars, are of the most modern and approved character, and that nothing has been omitted by the enterprising contractors to merit the approbation of the stockholders and the traveling public in the fulfillment of their engagements.

It is doubtless generally known to our readers that the Alton and Sangamon Railroad Company have obtained amendments to their charter, by acts of the last Legislature, authorizing the extension of their road to Bloomington in one direction, and in another to Pekin and Peoria, the importance of which cannot be too highly estimated. We sincerely hope that it will be so considered, not only by the stockholders of the road, but also by our fellow-citizens at those interesting points of connection, and that strenuous exertions will be made by one and all to insure the early consummation of an enterprise, which has such a bearing upon the future welfare of the population to be thus united.

It is understood that an early preliminary survey will be ordered to be made by the Board of Directors, of both these contemplated branches of our road. In the meantime, we rely confidently upon the manifestation of the same public spirit of liberality, on the part of individuals, as well as of the cities, towns, or counties to be benefited by the completion of these lines, in the contributions which it will call for, which has distinguished the subscribers to the Alton and Sangamon Railroad Company.

The grading of twenty-three miles is completed, and on the remaining ten miles, the work is more than one half done. One thousand tons of rails or track for about eleven and a half miles have been delivered at Alton, and the residue of the iron for the entire road to Springfield is delivered at New Orleans. Fifteen thousand ties, or sufficient for over seven miles, have been delivered at Alton, and contracts for the whole road have been entered into, and sufficient to extend the road to Carlinville is now ready for transportation. Two steamboats – the Newton Wagoner and Patrick Henry – are constantly engaged, and other New Orleans steamers are employed in the transportation of iron, ties, and other materials for the road. All the lumber for the station houses, engine and machine shops have been procured. The foundation for the depot buildings, engine house, and machine Shop at Alton are laid, and the walls up ten or twelve feet. Ten freight cars have been delivered at Alton, and contracts made for all the engines and cars, which are now constructing in the best shops in Massachusetts. The average force on the work, during the winter, has been about seven hundred.

The masonry, of which a large amount has been done, is still building in the most permanent and durable manner of stone, in all respects equal to that on the New York and Erie, the Hudson River, the Harlem Extension, and the best constructed railroads in New England. In the crossing of streams, permanent stone arches, varying from fifteen to forty feet span, have been made, instead of wooden structures – except at the crossing of Macoupin Creek, where a wooden bridge of one hundred feet span is proposed to be used. The ties are of very large size, and of the best quality of cedar. The iron is of an improved pattern of H. rail, weighing 56 pounds to the yard – the same weight as that used on the best Massachusetts roads, and only four pounds less than the heaviest pattern used on the New York and Erie Railroad.

The contractors have commenced laying track at Alton, and are now carting iron and ties beyond the heavy work near the city, to the prairie work beyond, which extends, uninterruptedly, for twenty miles, and which is now ready for the rails. A definite location of fourteen miles this side of Carlinville has been made, and the preliminary surveys necessary to decide on the remainder of the line to Springfield have been completed. The land surveys to obtain the right-of-way from Carlinville to Alton are being made, and offers of land for a depot and machine shop have been made by our citizens and forwarded for the consideration of the Board of Directors.

Mr. J. I. Shipman is the principal engineer of this work. He is well known as the engineer who built the Naples and Sangamon Railroad, and his reputation is permanently established in this section of country. Mr. C. F. Jones is the resident engineer of the road, and upon him has devolved the chief field labors connected with the work. He has had a large experience upon the Eastern roads, having been engaged several years as an engineer on the New York and Erie Railroad, and also on the New York and Harlem Railroad extension. We are informed by Mr. Shipman and others, that Mr. Jones is a very accurate and reliable engineer, capable of executing or superintending any kind of work in the line of his profession.

We congratulate our citizens upon the certainty of a speedy completion of the road. Every doubt as to its completion to Alton is silenced, and in less than a year, we may expect to see it in full operation – thus giving us two railroad connections with the river west of us. These improvements and prospects have given a fresh stimulus to business, and we may expect a new era of prosperity and advancement.

 

LOCOMOTIVE ARRIVES IN ALTON
Source: Alton Telegraph, May 16, 1851
That locomotive, which was alluded to by us some weeks since, as having been purchased by the railroad contractors, arrived last night. It cost $5,000, weighs about 14 tons, and is merely to be used in the construction of the road.

 

ALTON – HER RAILROADS AND HER DESTINY
Source: Alton Telegraph, May 30, 1851
The fact is doubtless apparent to all who have taken the trouble to come and see, that for some two or three years past, Alton has been gradually rising from the position of “masterly inactivity,” which was her most prominent characteristic for several years succeeding the “back set” she received in 1836 and 1837 (time period when Rev. Elijah Lovejoy was murdered).

One of the first manifestations of improvement in our affairs was a successful effort, about two years since, to resuscitate the charter for a railroad from Alton to Springfield – the capital of the State. The road being some 75 miles in length, a great effort, on the part of our enterprising citizens, was requisite in order to obtain a sufficiently large subscription to the capital stock of the company to enable it to complete its organization. This, however, was finally accomplished by the aid of a subscription of $100,000 on the part of the city, in her corporate capacity, together with a handsome subscription in New York. Little more than one year since, the company was duly organized, and as soon as the arrangements could be made, a large force was employed upon the work, and has been almost constantly engaged ever since, with a very favorable prospect of the entire completion of the road before another year passes.

Another favorite work with our citizens is the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad, for which a liberal charter was obtained at the last session of the General Assembly. It will open up one of the richest and most productive belts of country to be found in all the length and breadth of the land. This road is viewed with great favor at the East, and requires only a united and vigorous effort on the part of its friends upon the line to insure its early completion.

Another road, of perhaps not inferior importance to the trade and business of our city, is the Alton, Mt. Carmel, and New Albany Railroad, running from Alton, via Mt. Carmel, on the Wabash, to New Albany, Indiana, on the Ohio River, immediately opposite Louisville. We cannot but regard this as one of the most important of all contemplated improvements. The charter for this road is of the most liberal character, and we hope the day is not far distant when active operations will be commenced upon it.

Last but not least, it is also proposed to build a railroad to connect Alton with Jacksonville, Morgan County, some 75 miles distant. The line of this road passes through the rich and productive counties of Jersey, Greene, and Morgan. We shall rejoice to see the friends of this important project actively engaged in placing its claims before the public.

Thus, it will be seen that Alton is to be the terminus of four magnificent lines of railway – justly entitling her to the cognomen of the “Railroad City.”

 

CONSTRUCTION OF THE RAILROAD IN ALTON
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 12, 1851
The puff of the locomotive, used in the construction of the railroad, may be heard daily. The filling in upon the culvert over Piasa Creek is rapidly progressing, and the prospect for a speedy connection with Piasa Street is very promising. We observe that Mr. Gilmore, constructive superintendent, has advertised for an increased number of hands to be employed upon the work, and every exertion is now making to secure its early completion in the shortest possible time.

 

CONSTRUCTION OF THE RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 26, 1851
A short stroll upon the railroad the other day brought us to the spot where the locomotive is engaged in transporting the dirt cars from the embankment in Piasa Street, to the place where they are filled – probably a mile and a half back from the river. Getting aboard one of the cars, a ride of a very few minutes, at a rapid rate, soon brought us to the hills in rear of the city, where we found a number of hands employed in excavating the dirt, which is at once thrown into the cars, and on being filled, they descend with almost lightning speed, and give place to another set. In this way, the excavation and embankment are proceeding pretty rapidly, and as soon as a few hundred yards intervening can be overcome, the locomotive will be enabled to run to Brighton – the rails being now laid to that point.

 

RAILROAD AND FLOODING
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 17, 1851
In the month of May 1851, the railroad had been put in good serviceable order, and the cars ran for several days. The flood, however, came, and the water, having overrun this, as all other parts of the American Bottom, compelled a discontinuance of operations. The injury did not cease with the discontinuance of the inundation. The framework over the creek, which intersects the road, had been carried away, the rails in some parts displaced, and the grading along many portions more or less washed down. So soon as the water had sufficiently subsided, the work of repair commenced, and the present excellent condition of the road, from one extreme to the other, is an evidence of the energy and activity with which it was prosecuted.

 

FIRST TRIP OF THE LOCOMOTIVE
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 16, 1852
The first trip of the locomotive to Brighton [from Alton] was made on Thursday evening, and proved highly satisfactory. Daily trips are now being made there and back, and the materials for the construction of the road are taken out upon the burthen cars. The work continues to be pushed ahead with all practicable rapidity, and it will certainly not be long before the iron horse shall be able to proceed to Carlinville.

 

ALTON AND SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, February 27, 1852
Since the moderated state of the weather has permitted it, the work upon this end of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad has been pushed forward with a determination and spirit which argues well for its early completion. A large force, with two trains of gravel cars, numbering fifteen each, are now engaged in running down dirt to the intersection of Fifth and Piasa Streets, where the depot building is to be located. Twenty additional cars, we are informed, will be placed on the track in a day or two. The walls of the depot will be put up, as soon as this filling in is completed.

Since the extension of the track to Brighton, the burden cars have been active in carrying out ties and rails, and the track beyond that point to Coup’s Creek, and thence on to Carlinville, is being pushed forward with all possible energy.

In view of a speedy completion of the road, a large number of railroad cars, under the superintendence of Mr. Read, are now in course of construction. Twelve well-finished freight cars, twenty-six feet in length, are already put up and painted, and present a very finished appearance. He is now at work upon the baggage cars, and by the first of April, will finish off a number of passenger cars. The materials used in their construction is said to be of the very best quality, and when finished, they are expected to compare favorably with any in the United States. Another and larger locomotive is daily expected to arrive by the steamboat, Patrick Henry. The energy and ability displayed by the contractor, Benjamin Godfrey, Esq., on this important work, deserves and commands the respect and esteem of every citizen of Alton.

 

THE ALTON AND SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 19, 1852
From Springfield, Illinois
The forwardness of the Alton and Springfield Railroad, together with the energy now manifested in hurrying on the work, fully guarantee its completion by the end of the present year, if not before. The road is 72 miles long – more than three-quarters of the grading is done, embracing a distance of 47 continuous miles. The remaining 25 miles, with the exception of the immediate vicinity of three inconsiderable creeks, is very light prairie work, on which are now engaged between 800 and 1,000 men. Twenty miles of rail is laid at the Alton end of the road – ties and iron arriving here from Naples, and in less than ten days, the work of laying track will be pushed rapidly at each end.

The depot, machine shop, engine house, and other buildings of the company at this terminus are in course of construction. The confidence felt by our citizens, that we are so soon to have a direct connection with the Mississippi, and the great increase it will give to the business, wealth, and population of the city, is imparting increased vigor to enterprise, one of the first fruits of which is the location here of the “Illinois State University,” effected mainly by a liberal subscription made in aid of the buildings of the institution, though, of course, the size of the town – being the largest of any in the interior- her central position in the State, great and direct intercourse with all the counties, and other considerations, had their due weight.

 

ALTON AND SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 26, 1852
The arrival of the Patrick Henry [steamboat] on Monday last, with a splendid new locomotive for the road – very appropriately named the Ben Godfrey – has been heretofore announced. We are informed that there are now at New Orleans awaiting transportation to Alton two additional locomotives and fifty freight cars. The workmen here are busily engaged in erecting others, and have a number of freight and baggage cars finished. They are now completing the first passenger car, which will be ready in a shorr time.

In about twenty days, we are informed the new locomotive will be put upon the track, and regular freight trains will commence running to Brighton, Brooklyn, and other points this side of Coop’s Creek, where a quantity of freight is in readiness for transportation.

 

FIRST FRUITS OF THE RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, May 14, 1852
We learn that Messrs. J. J. and W. H. Mitchell of Alton received, yesterday, a lot of 400 bushels of wheat by the Alton and Sangamon Railroad. It was purchased from Mr. Miles of Macoupin, one miles and a half beyond Brighton.

 

RAILROAD DEPOT
Source: Alton Telegraph, June 11, 1852
The railroad depot is now going up rapidly.

 

ALTON AND SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, July 9, 1852
In company with a large number of our fellow-citizens, we took advantage of the occasion of the trip of the passenger train to Carlinville on Saturday last, got up at considerable inconvenience to the contractors, to visit the thriving county-seat of old Macoupin. And were highly pleased with the excursion. Our train left Alton at twenty-five minutes past eight, and proceeded slowly until we reached the summit, soon after which, with greatly increased speed, we passed the beautiful village of Monticello [Godfrey], the stars and stripes waving proudly from the observatory of the Female Seminary, and passing over the most beautiful country the eye of man ever beheld, arrived at Brighton at 9 o’clock, where we remained a few minutes. After receiving an addition to our complement of passengers, as well as a fresh supply of wood and water, we were again whirled along for miles, over a most beautiful prairie, dotted here and there with houses, trees, and extensive farms. Passing Brooklyn Station, where there were a number of persons gathered on a picnic excursion, the splendid scenery still spread out before us, the prairies covered with wild flowers and high grass, and stretching off in many places further than the eye can reach, we came in a short __________ broken country in the vicinity of Coop’s and Macoupin Creeks, where the scene, although varied, was still interesting. We finally arrived at Carlinville at eighteen minutes before eleven o’clock, being two hours and seventeen minutes altogether in making the trip, or one hour and fifty-two minutes running time – having lost about twenty-five minutes in stopping at different points.

Everything about this road is got up in the best style, and it must and will take rank as one of the best to be found in the Union. On portions of the track, the speed was equal to thirty miles an hour. E. Keating, Esq., of Alton, is Superintendent, and is an able and popular officer. The conductors, Messrs. E. Dodge and J. D. Hawley, are gentlemen well qualified for their station, and we must say, the entire management of the road is worthy the highest praise.

We are gratified to state in this connection, that every possible exertion, requisite to complete the road in the shortest possible time, is being put forth; an additional force having recently been put on the line, and it is confidently expected to be in running order to Springfield within a few weeks.

It is almost unnecessary to state that the road is not yet opened. When this takes place, which will be soon, we suppose the customary practice of giving a free ride to the stockholders and public authorities of the vicinity will not be forgotten.

ALTON AND SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, July 23, 1852
We are gratified to state that arrangements have been made for the running of a regular passenger train to Carlinville every day, leaving Alton at 10 a.m., and returning from Carlinville at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. It is understood that the mail stages upon this route are to be immediately taken off, and the mails transported in the cars. As a consequence, we suppose there will hereafter be no Sunday mail.

It will be impracticable for the contractors of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad to make any regular arrangements for the running of freight trains. With every disposition to accommodate shippers, their great object now is to lay the track through as speedily as possible, and everything must yield to that. The locomotives are constantly employed with the material trains, and it is only in connection with these that freight cars can be run at all.

 

PIASA STREET DEPOT
Source: Alton Telegraph, July 23, 1852
Piasa Street, between Third and Fourth, is becoming a place of great public resort, now that the railroad cars are making their regular trips. A large number of spectators congregate there every morning to witness the departure of the passenger cars – which now go pretty well loaded.

               Piasa Street Depot in Alton - Alton & Sangamon Railroad

 

RAILROAD ACCIDENT
Source: Alton Telegraph, July 30, 1852
We regret to state that as the cars were returning from Carlinville last evening with a large number of passengers, they came in contact with a number of cows, which ran across the track just ahead of the locomotive, about four miles south of Brighton. The locomotive with its lumber cars were thrown off the tracks, and some were considerably injured, and a man named John O’Neal was severely injured. A messenger was immediately dispatched into town, in order to obtain another train, which was accomplished, and the train arrived in remarkably quick time, when the _____ got on board and came in the city.

 

CHICAGO AND ALTON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 20, 1852
In view of the completion of the Chicago and Alton Railroad to Springfield, which will be during the present month, the company are making extensive preparation at their workshops in Alton for the transit of freight and passengers. The equipment of this section of the road will be in every respect complete, and fully equal in point of finish and style to any in the United States. It embraces ready for service, five passenger cars, two baggage cars, thirty platform cars, forty-four house and freight cars, twenty-five gravel cars, three freight locomotives, and two passenger locomotives. These two passenger locomotives have not yet arrived, but we are informed they are in New Orleans, and will be here in a few days. We also understand that two large saloon cars, and about one hundred additional freight and cattle cars, are to be constructed forthwith.

The walls of the depot at the corner of Fifth and Piasa Streets are already up, and the inside work will be finished speedily. This building is made of rough stone, and will be, when completed, a very material improvement to the looks of that portion of our city. Its height is two stories, breadth forty feet, and length one hundred and thirty feet. The northern end is built up with wood, and is so arranged that extensive additions may be attached without mutilating the symmetry and general appearance of the building. We understand that it will be extended, probably, in the Spring. The depot at Springfield, we learn, is ready to receive the roofing, and will be completed by the time the road is opened.

 

ALTON AND SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 20, 1852
The Alton and Sangamon Railroad will be completed and in operation to Springfield in 10 or 15 days. Only about 9 miles of rails are yet to be laid. This will be one of the best roads in the country. It is laid with T rails and cedar ties. The cars are now running and carrying passengers to Carlinville, thirty-three miles out from Alton, and the freight trains run 16 miles further. We also learn that 50 or 60 passengers are daily passing each way over the line.

Edward Keating, Esq., of Alton has given up his lucrative practice at the bar to devote his whole time and attention to the road, and to the assiduity and untiring perseverance of this gentleman, in conjunction with the projector – Captain Benjamin Godfrey – the people of Illinois are indebted for the early completion of the road. Such enterprising and public-spirited men as those two gentlemen should be held in high esteem by Illinoisans, and especially Altonians, whose energies and foresight have already greatly advanced their prosperity. This road will greatly facilitate traveling, and will bring a large trade to our city.

 

THE RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 27, 1852
We learn that the passenger train is now making regular daily trips to Virden’s – fifteen miles beyond Carlinville. A large number of passengers arrive every evening, many of whom are Western merchants returning from a trip to the East.

 

ENGINES PULLS FIRST TRAIN INTO ALTON – SEPTEMBER 9, 1852
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.

 

                                            Alton and Sangamon Railroad

 

ALTON & SANGAMON RAILROAD COMPLETED TO ALTON
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.

 

RECOGNITION DINNER FOR CAPT. BENJAMIN GODFREY
IN THE COMPLETION OF THE ALTON & SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 10, 1852

To Captain Benjamin Godfrey:
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.

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

 

BUSY DAY FOR THE ALTON AND SANGAMON
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 17, 1852
Yesterday was a busy day on the Alton and Sangamon Railroad. From morning till night, Piasa Street, between Second [Broadway] and Fourth Streets was thronged with drays, hauling merchandise and produce to and from the cars. The morning train consisted of two passenger cars, a baggage car, and eight or ten large freight cars, loaded down with goods for the interior. A portion was for Springfield, and a large amount for places beyond, such as Decatur, Bloomington, Pulaski, Taylorsville, Petersburg, Athens, Mechanicsburg, Hebron, and last but not least, Jacksonville, on the Sangamon and Morgan Road. A large amount of freight was necessarily refused, but will be forwarded immediately.

The “good time,” which has so long been coming, has at length actually dawned upon us. Trains now leave Alton and Springfield daily, meeting at Carlinville. An end to staging over rough roads, through the five-long night! We learn that when the train arrived at the Capitol on last Thursday, it was received with every demonstration of joy. Canons were fired, drums were beat, and the whole city was in an uproar. We congratulate our friends in Springfield and the interior, upon the final accomplishment of this great work, and hope the bonds of union that now connect the State Capital with our busy mart may prove of even greater benefit than we have heretofore imagined.

 

Captain Benjamin GodfreyCARDS OF THANKS FROM CAPTAIN BENJAMIN GODFREY
On the Completion of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 17, 1852
To Messrs. Mark Pierson, L. J. Clawson, John W. Schweppe, John L. Ferguson, and other citizens of Alton and vicinity:

I have had the honor to receive your kind communication of the 8th inst., in which you are pleased to express your approbation of the part I have acted in the construction of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad, and your opinion of the influence which the completion of that enterprise will have upon similar projects in our State, and upon our State credit abroad, accompanied with the request that I will attend a public dinner, which you kindly propose to give me at such time as shall suit my convenience.

I need hardly say, gentlemen, that your very kind, and perhaps too high appreciation of my efforts and success in this most important, but difficult and hazardous enterprise, is most grateful to my feelings. I can hardly take to myself all the credit you ascribe to me in this matter. But I may, nevertheless say, without affection, that if honest, untiring effort, sleepless vigilance, great sacrifice of domestic comfort and personal feelings, and hazard of all earthly possessions, in a work of great public utility are deserving the approbation of the wise and the good, then I conceive that I have some humble claim to the approbation of my fellow-citizens.

I most heartily congratulate you all on the completion of this incipient, but important public work, and trust that not only the citizens of Alton, but of our State at large, may more than realize all the advantages their most enlarged desires could anticipate.

With a full and grateful appreciation of your kindness, the complimentary dinner which you propose, from several considerations, I most respectfully decline – being more than content with the sentiments which my fellow-citizens have expressed in their communication.

Accept for yourselves, gentlemen, and those you represent, my grateful acknowledgments.

With sentiments of esteem, I am, very respectfully, your fellow-citizens,
Benjamin Godfrey

                                 Chicago and Alton Railroad - 1884

FIRST REGULAR TRAIN OF CARS LEAVES ALTON
Source: Alton Weekly Courier, September 17, 1852
Yesterday, the first regular train of cars went up over the road, consisting of two passenger and half a dozen freight cars, well loaded. Night before last, the train came through from Springfield for the first time, and without any accident, bringing two passenger cars well filled to their utmost capacity with passengers, and several freight cars. Several boarding and lumber cars also composed the train, which we are informed was almost a quarter of a mile in length. Yesterday, there was no train down from Springfield. The locomotive and train that went up, laying over until today, and hereafter, until further notice, there will be a train run each way – once per day.

When the road is more fully opened, the depot erected, and the two steamers, Altona and Cornelia, ready to run in connection, there will undoubtedly be two or three trains per day, each way. The two steamers are coming out finely painted, and in complete running order. They will be well officered and conducted. It is worthy of remark that the bars are closed and no liquors will be vended, henceforth, on either boat. Captains Lamothe and Adams are too well and favorably known in the traveling community to need comment.

The conductors upon the daily trains are Mr. Henry Tilton – a gentleman every inch, who has long been a railroad conducted on the Eastern roads; and J. D. Hawley, who will likewise prove himself a favorite with the traveling public. Mr. E. P. Hollister is the freight conductor – a prompt, energetic business man; and our friend Dodge will manage the freight depot and business in Alton.

So far as our knowledge extends, and judging from common report, the Company could not have done better in their choice of efficient, gentlemanly managers, and we doubt not they will so conduct the affairs of the road as to render it very popular with the public.

 

ANOTHER LOCOMOTIVE WILL ARRIVE
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 10, 1852
We learn that one of the passenger locomotives of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad was received at New Orleans last week, and is now on its way to Alton. It is very appropriately named the “Ned Keating,” and may be expected to arrive soon.

 

ALTON AND CHICAGO RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 1, 1852
The Alton and Chicago Railroad, already opened as far as Springfield, with its extension now in process of construction to the city of Chicago, is an enterprise which is destined to have a very marked influence upon the wealth and growth of the large and hitherto almost inaccessible tract of country, through which it is located. It is to open an outlet to market for a tier of counties abounding in agricultural products and rich in natural resources of all kinds. Besides this, the travel, and a large portion of the through freight from the Eastern cities, which have for many long years been entirely dependent upon the shoals and flats of the Illinois River, must inevitably settle into this channel, as in every respect more direct, more speedy, and more reliable.

It is a matter of deep interest to the growth and prosperity of our young and enterprising city, that the facilities which we possess should be turned to a good account. Produce can be freighted from this point for a Southern market, cheaper than after a transshipment at St. Louis. Groceries can be received here directly from New Orleans, vastly cheaper than after passing through the hands of dray men and commission merchants at St. Louis.

A recent act of Congress has declared Alton a port of entry and delivery, and custom house and bonded goods can now be entered immediately here, without the formal delays and inconveniences heretofore attending them. Large amounts of railroad iron are now needed throughout Illinois, and will be arriving during the Fall and Winter at New Orleans. Boats plying between that port and Alton, it seems, will always find full-up freights, and the surplus produce, which must have an outlet here, will always be sufficient to load them in return.

By these means, the commerce of our city will be placed upon a firm and healthy foundation, and will depend upon and be sustained by its own merits and advantages. We must act, and rely upon ourselves, if we would attract business and commerce to our city. Trade, like water, will seek its proper level, and if we give it equal inducements, it will not pass us for other markets.

 

RAIL HANDCARS COLLIDE NEAR MONTICELLO
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 8, 1852
Late on Monday night, a collision occurred between two handcars going at full speed on the railroad in the neighborhood of Monticello [Godfrey], which resulted in a pretty general smash up of both of them. On account of the darkness, the drivers onboard did not see each other’s approach, until too late to avert the accident. We learn that no one was seriously injured by the concussion. We have heard of, and read of various railroad collisions, but this is the first instance, we believe, on record, of two handcars playing smash with each other.

NOTES:
The Chicago and Alton Railroad was just completed in Madison County, and I believe this incident was their first accident. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Handcars were built by individual railroads in their shops, and were mainly used by section gangs – maintaining a section of track up to 12 miles long. Early models used a hand crank that was spun to propel the car. These cars were quite heavy, and needed more people to propel them. More people meant more power and speed, but at some point, the benefits were offset by the weight of the people. While depictions on TV and in movies made it look like being a member of a handcar crew was a joyride, pumping a traditional handcar with bronze bearings rather than modern roller bearings was very hard work and dangerous. Many men were killed from collisions with unexpected trains (or in this case, another handcar). It was standard procedure for a man to run ahead to curves and watch for oncoming trains.

 

Chicago and Alton Railroad CarTHE RAILROAD CELEBRATION
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 15, 1852
The generous invitation, politely tendered by the Directors of the Alton and Sangamon Railroad, to the stockholders, and also to the Mayors and Councils of St. Louis and of Alton, for a free excursion on the cars to Springfield, on Thursday last, was very generally responded to by the dignitaries and citizens of those cities, as well as by the stockholders at Brighton, Shipman, Carlinville, and other stations along the line. Among the gentlemen from the Queen City, who honored our State with a visit on the above interesting occasion, we observed the Hon. L. M. Kennett, the most worthy Mayor, and fifteen out of the twenty-four members of the City Councils, including the chairman of each board; Judge Thomas of the County Court; A. Gamble, Esq., Postmaster; T. Allen, Esq., President; Mr. Lucas, Vice-President, and four or five of the Directors of the Pacific Railroad; about an equal number of the Directors of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad; Captain Green, U. S. Surveyor of the Port; Colonel Curtis, City Engineer; Colonel Mann Butler, the well-known historian of Kentucky; and several other public men, including the corps Editorial, which was well represented.

The train, consisting of six passenger and two platform cars, left Alton at about nine o’clock in the forenoon, upon the arrival of the splendid packet Cornelia, with the invited guests from St. Louis. The track was in excellent order, and with the new passenger locomotive, E. Keating, at the head of the train, we went on, dashing and careering over broad and beautiful prairies, and through strips of lofty timber, traversing the finest and most fertile region of the globe, at a very fair rate. The running time to Springfield, including stoppages to receive passengers at the different stations, was about four hours and a half, or not quite twenty miles per hour.

Upon our arrival at the Springfield depot, we found a large concourse of citizens in waiting, who welcomed us with joyful shouts and hurrahs. The crowd immediately repaired to the large engine-house attached to the railroad, where an excellent and most inviting repast was served up in the very best style. Before we took our seats, V. Hickox, Esq., of Springfield, introduced Captain Benjamin Godfrey, the pioneer of the road, who was greeted with loud and repeated cheers by the company. After an animated discussion of the substantials, the corks were drawn from a perfect forest of long-necked and suspicious looking bottles, and a general effervescence of champagne and native Catawba sparkled in all directions through the house.

The Mayor of St. Louis, Hon. L. M. Kennett, proposed the health of Captain Benjamin Godfrey – the wheel-horse, backbone, and sinew of this enterprise, which was responded to with enthusiastic, hearty, and prolonged cheers. Captain Godfrey was repeatedly called upon for a reply, when Mr. Kennett remarked that “Captain Godfrey was much better known by his deeds than by his speeches. While others did the talking, he did the working.” Colonel Buckmaster then offered as a toast – “the St. Louis delegation” – and introduced Mr. Kennett, who replied in a very neat and appropriate speech in which he alluded in glowing terms to the exceeding beauty of the country through which we had passed in the forenoon – to the vast resources of Illinois and her manifest destiny soon to take rank as the second, if not the first, State in the confederacy, to the great advantage of railroads in cementing the bonds of our glorious Union, and to the duty of the Western States to act together and contribute to the extent of their means, toward building up a large commercial city at New Orleans, which is the natural outlet of their trade.

Mr. Elliott of St. Louis followed in a very humorous and well-conceived speech, in which he stated he was in favor of doing away, at once and forever, with the prejudice and ill-feeling which had so long existed between the States of Missouri and Illinois. The resources of both are vast, and their prospects bright, and whatever tends to advance the prosperity of the one, will reciprocally act upon the other. Illinois and Missouri constitute a pair of saddlebags, separated by the Mississippi, and the time is at hand when the pockets of both will be so full of the good things of this world, that it will be found impossible to button them up.

A gentleman from Illinois then proposed, “the St. Louis Press.” This was acknowledged by Colonel chambers of the Republican, who offered a sentiment in honor of the projectors, contractors, and all others concerned in the construction of the railroad just completed, which was heartily cheered.

Mr. Elliott of St. Louis next gave “The Press of Alton,” which was briefly responded to by the Senior of the Telegraph, and also received with cheering.

Colonel Buckmaster offered “Railroads, Plank Roads, Steamboats – every facility for getting to market.” This sentiment was likewise received with loud applause.

E. L. Baker, Esq., proposed “the E. Keating, the engine which brought us through – as strong, and as fast, and as reliable as a locomotive, as its enterprising namesake is as a man.” This brought out Mr. Keating, who had been repeatedly previously called without success, who responded in a few appropriate remarks, in which he paid a high and well-deserved compliment to Captain Godfrey. The last named gentleman was then again loudly called for, and briefly returned thanks for the kind manner in which he was greeted by the company, but the applause was so great that we could not hear what he said with distinctness.

Hon. Mann Butler of St. Louis proposed “General George Rogers Clark, the pioneer of the West.” This sentiment, which was prefaced by a few happily conceived remarks from the author, was received with loud cheering.

Colonel Ingersoll of Alton then gave “Colonel Mann Butler – an honest man and a gentleman – would he might live forever.” This toast, which like the preceding, was appropriately introduced, was heartily responded to by the company.

Sundry other sentiments, suitable to the occasion, were also offered by some of the gentlemen present, whose names we have forgotten. All of which were received with great applause.

At half-past four o’clock, the train started on its return with a whistle and a snort, and moved forward with even greater rapidity than when going up, until the night, which set in stormy and dark, rendered it necessary to check our speed. We all, however, got home without the slightest accident, highly delighted with the excursion, and loud in commendation of the admirable manner in which the whole trip was got up and carried through by the efficient and gentlemanly Superintendent, Colonel Keating, ably seconded by the polite and attentive conductor, Mr. Tilton.

 

ORDER TO REMOVE TRACK IN DOWNTOWN ALTON
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, February 24, 1853
A resolution has passed by the Common Council, requesting the Superintendent to remove the track of the Alton and Chicago Railroad, south of the north side of Third Street, within eight days.

 

ALTON AND SANGAMON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, March 9, 1853
We are gratified to learn that by next week, the Alton and Sangamon Railroad Company will place upon the track two large and comfortable saloon cars for the accommodation of travelers. In finish and style, they will compare favorably with any used upon Eastern roads. The company are also putting up a large stationary engine at their workshops, and are making very extensive additions to them. A large number of workmen are constantly employed upon these improvements. The features of that part of the city where these works are situated have already undergone such a complete metamorphosis, that very few can recognize the old landmarks.

 

CHICAGO AND ALTON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, March 29, 1853
We learn from E. Keating, Esq., who returned from the East last week, that the entire line of the Chicago and Alton Railroad, from Springfield to Joliet, is now under contract to responsible parties, and that a large force is probably already at work upon the different divisions. It is intended to have the entire road completed, and in operation from Alton to Chicago, within one year from next May.

 

ALTON [RAIL] CAR MANUFACTORY TO SUPPLY RAILCARS FOR CHICAGO & ALTON AND ALTON & TERRE HAUTE RAILROADS
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, May 2, 1853
It is gratifying to notice the various mechanical and manufacturing establishments which are going up in all directions in our city, but we know of none which will have a more direct, intimate, and important influence upon our progress and prosperity than the extensive car manufactory, recently erected in Hunterstown, by Messrs. S. Tomlison & Co., formerly of Springfield, Massachusetts. It is located on Second Street [Broadway], between Oak and Walnut Streets, and comprehend five large lots, with an entire front of two hundred and six feet, running back one hundred and fifty-five feet to the track of the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad in the rear. The workmen are now busy in fitting up the several shops, putting up the engine, machinery, furnaces, &c., and it is expected that in the course of two weeks, that all the things will be ready for them to raise steam and commence operations.

The establishment is of brick, two stories high, and presents a front on Second Street [Broadway] of one hundred feet. The depth of the main building is forty feet, and has a wing running back from the east end, seventy-five feet deep by forty feet wide. The first floor is designed for the finishing shop, and is to be furnished with the various lathes for turning the iron work, saw cutting, punching, &c., and will also be used for putting up the cars and fitting them for the track. The second floor is arranged for the woodwork, and occupies a clear area of four hundred feet. It is to be provided with the most improved kinds of machinery for ______tising, turning, boring, planning, sawing, &c., and in all respects will probably be more conveniently and perfectly arranged than any other similar establishment in the West. The timber is to be carried from the yard to the work benches, and when prepared, let down into the shop below by machinery, adapted for the purpose.

The furnace and engine room adjoin the finishing shop. The engine was manufactured in the East, and is stated to be immeasurably superior to those ordinarily in use. It has a thirty horsepower, but occupies only one half the space, and requires only about one ball the steam of an ordinary engine, and is besides more regular in its motion and in the distribution of its power. It is in all respects as finished a piece of machinery as we have ever seen. In the rear of this, is the foundry, forty by fifty feet, where all the castings will be made, and adjoining this is the blacksmith’s shop, forty by thirty feet, furnished with three forges. The space in the angle of the building will be fitted up for receiving the cars, and laid with tracks connecting with the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad, whereby cars can be shipped to any part of the Western States. The office of the establishment is on Second Street, in front of the engine room.

The proprietors intend to make their car factory fully complete in itself, and will carry on every branch of the business, from the casting of the wheels to the painting of the cars and the cushioning of the seats. It will afford constant employment to over fifty operatives, the large number of whom will be from the East, and are men of families. Mr. Tomlison informs us that they are all experienced workmen, entirely temperate in their habits, and will make good and moral citizens. He says he has heretofore employed, and he will employ no other kind. Some of the workmen have already arrived, and the rest are expected in the course of another week.

The endless miles of railroad, building throughout the country, are furnishing a large and constant demand for railroad carriages, and it has been found impossible for Eastern manufacturers to supply them as fast as they are needed. The want of them is now greatly experienced in the Western States, and this need has loudly called for an establishment of this character in this part of the West. That the Alton Car Manufactory will do a large and profitable business, we have not the least doubt. The proprietors, we understand, have already made large contracts for supplying the Terre Haute and Alton, and Chicago and Alton Railroads with passenger and freight cars, and they will doubtless receive heavy orders for other roads now built, building, and projected throughout the West.

 

SILVER PITCHER PRESENTED TO CAPTAIN BENJAMIN GODFREY
For the Construction of the Alton and Springfield Railroad
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, May 5, 1853
It was our good fortune yesterday forenoon to see the superb pitcher presented by the people of Alton, to Captain Benjamin Godfrey, the energetic and successful contractor on the Alton and Springfield Railroad. It was manufactured by Messrs. Bailey & Co. of Philadelphia, is twenty inches high, of pure silver, richly enchased all over with neat and appropriate emblems – among which are a strikingly beautiful representation of Monticello Female Seminary, founded and endowed by Captain Godfrey, and another of a railroad train with its locomotive, cars, &c. On the front of the vessel is engraved the following inscription:

“To Captain Benjamin Godfrey
From his fellow-citizens, on a mark of their appreciation of his energy and success in constructing the Alton and Springfield Railroad. Alton, 1853.”

The pitcher is now at the store of Mr. Henry Lea on the southwest corner of Second [Broadway] and Piasa Street, where it may be seen for a day or two, until delivered to the estimable gentleman whose patriotic services it is designed to commemorate.

Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, May 14, 1853
The following interesting correspondence has taken place between Henry Lea, Esq., and Captain Benjamin Godfrey, upon the presentation of a silver pitcher to the latter, on behalf of the citizens of Alton, as a token of their estimation of his services in constructing the Alton and Sangamon Railroad. Captain Godfrey’s letter is earnest and heartfelt, and exhibits a lively appreciation of the delicate and well-deserved compliment which his friends have paid him:

“Alton, May 4, 1853
Captain Benjamin Godfrey,
Dear Sir: Having been requested by a number of your fellow-citizens to select designs, have made, and present to you a piece of plate, as a small token of their appreciation of your ‘energy and sacrifice in constructing the Alton and Springfield Railroad,’ I have now the pleasure of sending you a massive silver pitcher, just received from the manufacturer in Philadelphia. The two designs, one of the Monticello Seminary, the other of the Railroad, represent two of the great undertakings and accomplishments of your life, which, though so widely differing in character, will be so immensely beneficial in their effects uon the future menial and physical development of Illinois. That the token may be as acceptable to you as the duty has been agreeable to me, is the wish of Yours, very truly, Henry Lea.”

“Monticello, May 10, 1853
Henry Lea, Esq., Alton,
Dear Sir: I have the happiness to acknowledge the receipt of your kind favor of the 4th inst., in behalf of yourself and sundry citizens of Alton, together with a massive pitcher, as a token of their appreciation of what they are pleased to style my ‘services in constructing the Alton and Springfield Railroad.’ The public work to which you refer was, indeed, undertaken and carried forward under many discouragements and embarrassments, but a conviction of its necessity and importance to the proper and speedy development of the vast resources of the interior of our State, as well as an introduction to the work of internal improvements, impelled me to the undertaking.

The countenance and sympathy of my fellow-citizens of Alton have been most grateful to my feelings, and have done much to encourage and sustain me. This substantial and beautiful token of their appreciation of what I have done is therefore received with feelings of satisfaction, and will ever be regarded as a lasting memorial of their sympathy and kindness.

I confess too, sir, that I was affected by the beautiful and significant devices – the one representing the most powerful and effective means of developing the physical, and the other the mental and moral resources of our country. Drive the locomotive through our land, and you have business, activity, prosperity, and wealth. Educate the female mind and heart, and you have civilization, refinement, and domestic happiness. It has been my good fortune to have a humble part in promoting these important objects. I desire gratefully to ascribe it to that kind Providence who has enabled me to do it. With a full appreciation of the interest you, my dear sir, have taken in this matter, and with sentiments of high personal regard, I am very truly your friend and obedient servant, Benjamin Godfrey.”

 

RAILROAD ACCIDENT
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, May 20, 1853
A brakeman upon the Alton and Chicago Road, named Thomas Fitzgibbon, on Wednesday evening, when attempting to make a connection of the cars upon the wood train, a few miles out of town, was horribly crushed between two cars, and so severely injured internally that he expired in a few hours after. An inquest was held over the body on yesterday by Coroner Robbins, but the testimony added showed that no blame could be attached to the engineer on duty, as the train was moving at very moderate speed at the time. The verdict of the jury was that the deceased came to his death by accident while in the discharge of his duty. We understand that the unfortunate man leaves a wife and four children.

 

FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 23, 1861
Between six and seven o’clock on Saturday afternoon, as the locomotive of the St. Louis, Alton and Chicago Railroad, used to switch the cars on the track, was moving up Piasa Street, it ran over a small girl about seven years of age, the daughter of Mr. Robert Millen, a highly respectable gentlemen of our city, instantly killing her and mutilating her body in a most shocking manner. There was soon quite a number of men collected, and the excitement was intense. The engineer who was on the locomotive at the time received two or three very severe blows from someone in the crowd, but not seriously injuring him. Some of our citizens attach much blame to the engineer, while others think that the accident was unavoidable. As we know nothing about the matter except what we have heard, and as a coroner’s inquest was held, the report of which will be found below, and as we learn that the engineer has asked for a legal investigation of the facts in the case, we shall not express any opinion, as to who was culpable in this most unfortunate matter, further than to say that unless something can be done to prevent similar accidents in the future, that our citizens will insist upon the track being removed from the public street.

Coroner’s Inquest. Alton, Madison County, Illinois
The subscribers, impaneled as a jury by George T. Allen, Coroner, to hold an inquest over the body of the daughter of Robert Millen, aged seven years, killed by switch engine No. --, Leader H. A. Glardner, at about half past six o’clock p.m. today, decide that said child was killed by said engine through the culpable carelessness of the persons in charge of the same. S. Pitts, Foreman, William I. Alsop, George C. Loar, William M. Hart, Robert Johnson, John Selnor, S. Mauzy, Joseph Gottlieb, F. W. Kersting, F. Wenderle, Elisha Hyer, C. Stigleman

Honorable Acquittal
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 23, 1861
The engineer who had the locomotive in charge on last Saturday afternoon, when the child was so shockingly crushed and killed, voluntarily surrendered himself up, and requested a legal investigation. The trial occupied most of the day yesterday, being very thorough and minute. The city attorney appeared in behalf of the people, and Seth T. Sawyer, Esq., for the defendant. A great number of witnesses were examined, and every means taken to elicit all the facts bearing on the lamentable and unfortunate affair. It was satisfactorily proved during the trial that the engineer was a competent, cautious, strictly temperate, and very trustworthy man; that the bell was ringing and the locomotive was moving slowly at the time; and that all proper attention was being paid by those in charge of the engine to guard against accidents. The evidence was so decisive, that the attorneys did not feel called upon to say a word after the examination, but submitted the case at once to the justices, who immediately acquitted the defendant from all blame or censure, and set him at liberty, to the great satisfaction of all who heard the evidence. We learn that the railroad company have placed a watchman on that part of the track running through the city, to keep it clear of pedestrians, wagons, &c. And if our citizens will now take some little pains to keep their children at home, instead of permitting them, as many parents do, to loiter around the depot and on the railroad track, our feelings will not again soon be shocked as they were on last Saturday afternoon.

 

CHICAGO AND ALTON RAILROAD
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 6, 1865
This company has just completed their road from Alton to East St. Louis. The first passenger train passed over it from the new depot, opposite Carr Street ferry, on Sunday afternoon last. Since that time, their trains have been making regular trips over it.

 

THE HANDSOME PULLMAN SLEEPING CAR
Source: Alton Telegraph, June 2, 1865
Through the kind attention and invitation of Mr. J. J. Mitchell, one of the directors of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, we had an opportunity of inspecting the finest and most convenient sleeping car we have ever seen. It was built by Messrs. Fields and Pullman of Chicago, and cost $18,000, Mr. George M. Pullman, proprietor. The car was built expressly for the Chicago & Alton Railroad, and the elegance of the entire affair is wonderful. The bedding and mattresses are entirely out of sight, and by well arranged, but simple changes, portions of the car can be thrown into staterooms for the accommodation of bridal or family parties. The upholstery is all of the most tasteful and best description, and the ventilation perfect. The managers of this railroad deserve the gratitude of the traveling public for their untiring efforts to meet their wants. We return our thanks to Mr. Pullman for his kind attention.

 

STATION HOUSE TO BE CONSTRUCTED AT MONTICELLO [GODFREY]
Source: Alton Telegraph, June 22, 1866
We understand that the mangers of the Alton and Chicago, and Jacksonville, Alton, and St. Louis Railroad Companies have determined to erect a new station house at Monticello [Godfrey], nearly a mile further up the road than where the present one stands. This contemplated change is much regretted by the majority of the residents in the vicinity of the Seminary, and will prove a great inconvenience to all persons wishing to visit that popular institution.

 

NEW DEPOT IN ALTON TO BE CONSTRUCTED [UNION STATION]
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 31, 1866
Our readers have doubtless read the ordinance published in our yesterday’s issue, recently passed by the Common Council, granting permission to the Chicago and Alton, and the Terre Haute, Alton, and St. Louis Railroads, to erect a Union Passenger Depot on the riverbank, at the foot of Market Street. This is a much-needed improvement, and we are happy to chronicle the fact that it will be speedily undertaken.

The ordinance provides that it is to be commenced within two months, and to be finished within fifteen months from the date of the passage of the ordinance.

The building is to be of brick or stone, and will be of the most substantial character. When completed, it will not only be an ornament to the city, but will be a most decided and long-needed convenience. The ordinance further provides for the laying of a double track from the depot to Henry Street, and binds the railroad companies to lay crossings, to provide for the necessary drainage, etc. It is a most carefully drawn development, and contains all the provisions essential to make the improvement of a decided advantage to the city.

 

TERRIBLE RAILROAD ACCIDENT ABOVE ALTON
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, September 28, 1868
On Saturday evening, about seven o’clock, as the freight train on the Chicago Railroad, drawn by Engine No. 71, was approaching the summit, two miles above Alton, the caboose car, in which were the conductor and all the brakesmen, became detached in some unknown way, from the main train. The men at the time were engaged in preparing their signal lights for the night. The main train continued on down the grade, and the engineer shut off steam, as is customary, but noticing that the train continued with increased speed, he looked back and saw that the caboose had been left behind, and that no one was manning the brakes. He immediately went back on the train and turned two or three brakes, but the velocity was now so great, that no effect was produced, and seeing that nothing more could be done, he jumped from the cars to save himself.

The great train, numbering twenty cars, now thundered on its course uncontrolled, with constantly increasing speed, and quickly entered the city limits, and on reaching Ninth Street crossing, collided with an engine standing on the main track. The result was a complete and terrible wreck of the whole train. The standing engine was propelled forward the distance of two squares, forced from the track, and the tender utterly demolished. Seven or eight cars were smashed to pieces, and all the remainder more or less shattered. The engine also was wrecked. The “cut,” where the accident occurred, presented a scene of the direst confusion, being entirely choked up with the debris of cars, engine, freight, etc. A portable engine, on a platform car, was thrown from the car and entirely across two adjoining tracks. The engineer of the wrecked train had his leg broken by leaping from the train. No one was hurt on the standing engine. Had the train proceeded on its mad course until it entered the business part of the town, the consequences might have been still more fearful.

The railroad company at once set a large force at work, clearing the track, and a wrecking car, also, was soon at work. The passengers on the train from Chicago were transferred to another train. By the greatest exertion, the main track was cleared by about eleven o’clock Sunday morning, and trains passed as usual.

 

RUNAWAY COAL TRAIN IN ALTON - CREW BRAVELY RODE TO THE END
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 28, 1901
A train crew on the Alton had a perilous ride last night on a train of loaded coal cars that were running away with the engine. It was a hair-raising experience, and the men had a close call for death, but they stuck to their posts, and after doing all in their power to stop the runaway, they bravely stayed with their train, ready to jump if anything went wrong. The train consisted of seven coal cars, most of them the large, heavy ones of steel, and all of them heavily loaded. On the steep grade near the summit, the train got away from the engine, that is the engine which was in front was unable to hold them back, and the mad ride started. Working in the reverse motion, the engine could not stay the great weight of the heavy cars on the incline, and in a few seconds, it had become a lottery in which the chances of life for the crew were less than equal with those of death.

Down Piasa Street the shrieking locomotive came, pushed onward by the momentum of the weight of coal and cars. The engineer and fireman stuck to the cab and the remainder of the crew, after trying to set the brakes, gathered at the back of the train ready to jump in case the cars should leave the tracks. Down Piasa Street at midnight, running fully sixty miles an hour, the runaway dashed and rounded the curve, the whistle shrieking the signal to the man at the signal tower to line up the track. It was an awful moment of suspense for the crew until they saw as they approached near the inter-locking plant at Langdon Street, that the switch had been thrown and the track lined up for the runaway. Had there been failure on the part of the tower man to be quick enough, or had he misunderstood the shrieks of alarm, it would have been all over with the train crew. Over the switches of the interlocker the train sped in safety, and after a long run the engine in the breeching succeeded in stopping the train. It was 45 minutes before the train could be brought back from the end of its wild run.

 

HUNTING OLD ALTON RAILROAD RECORDS
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 Isaac 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.

 

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