Chicago was established near the banks of Lake Michigan from land that had belonged to the Potawatomi Indians.
Chicago's transportation importance began in the 1840's with the building of the Illinois and Michigan Canal which connected the Mississippi River with Lake Michigan. The Galena & Chicago Union Railway later enabled enhanced shipping of the many agricultural products grown in the region.
Alton, along the Mississippi River, was established in the 1830's, as an accessible port for flat-bottom steamers used in the transportation of the area’s valued goods.
Alton's low-bank portage became an early concern. It was susceptible to flooding, resulting in many of the streets being paved using bricks made at the community’s own brickworks. This somewhat solved drainage of the town’s arterial streets.
The Chicago & Alton Railroad was a popular line between Chicago and St. Louis in the late 1800's. The railroad also offered connected travel from Chicago to Kansas City.
Originally a short line from Alton to Springfield, the railroad gradually extended to Bloomington and then to Joliet. In Joliet the line connected, and later merged with, a short line from Joliet to Chicago. By the mid-1850's the Chicago & Alton Railroad maintained continuous travel between the two cities.
In the years after the American Civil War, the railroad chartered a brief line running from Alton to East St. Louis, and began building its line westward to Kansas City. In the 1870's the Chicago & Alton Railroad expanded further by leasing lines running all the way to Louisiana and Mexico.
This map was published in 1883 by Rand, McNally & Co. It shows relief, drainage, cities, towns, counties, and clearly labeled railroad network of 1883.
It includes Chicago and Alton Railroad advertising, complete with illustrations of the latest accommodations.
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