Harvesting the River
Harvest Transport History

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a train on trestle
Train on Trestle, circa 1903-1920
Photograph by C. Page Hatch.
Loaned by the Skinner House, Griggsville, Illinois
Zoom in on a train on trestle
The Illinois River area saw the birth of the first Illinois rail line, the Northern Cross, in 1838. The Illinois River Railroad was to follow in 1860, and the St. Louis, Rock Island, and Chicago arrived in Beardstown in 1869. These routes linked Illinois River towns to main lines, in hopes of spurring an alternative route to St. Louis for passengers and agricultural and river products.

Through the 1920s, until the automobile became common, trains were the main land transportation available along the river. Browning, for example, had six trains a day come through to take commodities and passengers to various destinations along the river.

Meredosia River Museum's artifacts and images illustrate the beginnings of rail travel. Audio clips feature river residents who shipped fish and waterfowl by rail. Video clips show fishermen packing fish for rail transport. Text features a survey report on the construction of a rail line. Photographs show trains and rail bridges during floods.

Images Videos Audio clips

      Steam Boats
      Small Boats
      Duck Boat
      Kidney Boats
      House Boats
   Plank Roads
      Northern Cross
      Illinois River
   The River

State of Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources Illinois State MuseumSearch