Historic Railroad Map of the Midwest - 1855

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D.B. Cooke & Co. Great Western Railway Guide.

This outline map of the north-central United States was published in 1855 by D.B. Cooke & Co. It features the railroad network of the era, both in operation and in progress. Shown are boundaries, waterways, and major stations with distances noted. Included are portions of Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, Canada.

In the mid-1800's the area now known as Ontario was called Canada West. An economic boom was occurring in Central Canada as railroads expanded and importation laws relaxed.

A large boom in the construction of railroads was also occurring in Illinois during the time of this map's publishing. At that time agricultural resources of Illinois included cattle, hogs, grain and other farming products as well as a number of dependent branch manufactures such as milling, slaughtering, packing, rendering, soap and candle making, tanning, brewing and distilling. Millions of dollars were expended on thousands of miles of railroads within the borders of Illinois during this era of expansion. Most of which had been done by private capital.

The population of Illinois was reported as 477,000 in 1840 and 851,470 in 1850. Indiana’s overspending to enhance its own livability had overburdened state financing and it was being forced into bankruptcy by 1850. The state had heavily invested in the building of roads, canals, railroads, and an expensive state-run school system. Voters officially enacted a new state constitution in 1851. The goal of this new constitution was to reduce the cost of government, through officials’ salary reductions, and increasing its efficiency.

By 1850 Ohio railroads began to replace canals as the preferred method of transportation. Railroads in that state continued to add mileage as canal use and maintenance began to decline. Toledo became a prominent center for several railroad companies. Toledo was founded along the west bank of the Maumee River in 1833. It grew as a canal junction town, as the Miami and Erie Canal and other connecting canals merged there. Later with its position along the railway between New York and Chicago, Toledo prospered greatly. By the 1850's the town maintained several furniture manufacturers, a number of carriage makers and a variety of breweries. Toledo was a major glassmaking town during that era, producing windows, bottles and glass art.