Historic Railroad Map of the Midwest - 1858

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G. Woolworth Colton's Series of Railroad Maps No. 4, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa.

This railroad map of the mid-western United States was published in 1858 by George Woolworth Colton. It displays counties, towns and villages, stations, the railways, rivers, canals and lakes. Included are Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and portions of Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio.

Railroad companies in the mid-west continued to add miles of track during the 1850's. So many immigrated to Indiana during that decade that it became the nation's fourth largest state by 1860, according to population.

Chicago's transportation importance began in the 1840's with the building of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. This connected the Mississippi River with Lake Michigan. The Galena & Chicago Union Railway improved the shipping of many agricultural products of the region. Refrigerated railroad cars were the talk of the town in 1858 as dressed beef began to be transported from the Chicago stock yards. A successful refrigeration car was developed in the 1860's.

The Hannibal & St. Joseph Railway was an important connection for westward travel in the 1800's. Before the line was completed there was not a swift or safe way to transport goods across Missouri. St. Joseph, being the westbound travel center that it was in the mid-1800's, necessitated a good cross-state railway route.

Building began on the railroad in 1851 west from Hannibal. After a government public land grant of nearly 600,000 acres in 1852, the railroad was able to clear and lay tracks east from St. Joseph. Before completion when the line was within 100 miles of linking in the middle, stagecoaches were used to finish the trip. In 1859, at the completion celebration east of Chillicothe at Cream Ridge, a gold spike was driven before much fanfare. A vessel of Mississippi water was carried by rail and deposited into the Missouri River to signify the new link.

The Hannibal & St. Joseph was the first railroad to use four feet eight and one-half inch rails, which is now known as standard-gauge. On April 3, 1860 during a planned attempt to surpass the railroad’s normal travel time from Hannibal to St. Joseph that usually took 12 hours, engineer Adison Clark drove the locomotive “Missouri” and one baggage car on an impressive four hour and twenty minute trip over the 190 mile railway. This feat enabled the railway to secure a contract with the United States Mail Service to expressly connect with the westward Pony Express offices at St. Joseph.


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