Monday, July 25, 2016

Images and a Little History from Keokuk Iowa

Finally we made it across the Mississippi River from Illinois to Keokuk Iowa.  A long day of driving still lay ahead of us but I had noted many historic places and landmarks that I wanted to check out along our route.

I had listed 12 places from the National Register of Historic Places in Keokuk alone… As it turned out, we only had time to take a look at 4 of them.  The others will have to wait for us to make another family visit to Omaha.


This is a statue of Samuel R. Curtis.  We didn’t have time to look for his former home in Keokuk so this was the next best thing.  Curtis was one of the first Republicans elected to Congress.  He was most famous for his role as a Union Army general in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War…especially for his victories at the Battles of Pea Ridge in 1862 and Westport in 1864.

Curtis was a West Point Graduate who’d resigned his commission in 1832.  However, during the Mexican-American War, he was appointed as a colonel and he served as the military governor of several occupied cities.  After the war, he moved to Iowa and became the mayor of Keokuk in 1856.  In 1856 he was elected to represent Iowa's 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives, where he served 3 terms.


The George M. Verity is a historic towboat on display as museum ship on the Mississippi riverfront in Keokuk.  Built in 1927 as SS Thorpe, she is nationally significant for being one of only three surviving steam-powered towboats still in existence in the United States.

As the SS Thorpe, she was one of four towboats that inaugurated barge service on the upper Mississippi River.  She was the first to move barges from St. Louis Missouri north to St. Paul Minnesota.  She is 162.5 feet long with a beam of 40.5 feet.  Her second owner was the Armco Steel Company and they renamed her after their founder.  After 33 years of service on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, she was retired and given to the city of Keokuk Iowa to serve as the George M. Verity River Museum.  If you’re interested in visiting this towboat, you can go to http://www.geomverity.org/.


This is a photo of the railroad swing bridge over the channel leading to Keokuk lock and dam #19 on the Mississippi River.  This swing segment connects with the stable portion of the Keokuk railway bridge, at the upper right in the photo, whenever a train is crossing the river.

Construction of the dam began in 1910 and was completed in 1913.  The main portion of the dam is 4,620 feet long.  At the time the dam was completed it was second in length only to the Aswan Low Dam on the Nile River.  River traffic’s drop through the lock from the upper pool to the lower pool is 38 feet…

Notes:

·       If you look carefully, you’ll see that the railroad bridge is a double deck affair.  That’s because, prior to the new highway bridge completion in 1985, the upper deck of the old bridge was a 2-lane roadway. 

·       The old eleven-span, double-deck steel superstructure was built in 1915-1916 on piers retained from an earlier (1869-1871) bridge.  It still serves as the railway bridge! 


I borrowed this aerial view of the Keokuk Lock and Dam from Wikipedia.  It shows the new (1957) 1,200 foot long lock at the left.  The dewatered drydock and the original 1913 lock are at the upper right.  The current US Hwy. 136 bridge is at the very bottom and the old dual level railroad/highway bridge is just above the current highway bridge. 

Lock and Dam No. 19 Historic District encompasses 1,605 acres, 7 buildings and 12 structures.  The lock itself is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The dam is owned and operated by Ameren, a Missouri power company.  This lock and dam eliminated the Des Moines Rapids, a natural barrier to Mississippi River traffic.  In that area prior to dam construction, the river was only about 2.5 feet deep. 

Various attempts to make the river navigable actually started in 1837 when a channel was blasted through the rapids by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team led by Robert E. Lee.  A canal was built around the rapids 1877.  That canal has now been obliterated by Lock and Dam No. 19.


Anyone who follows my blog knows that I like restaurants, food, history, airplanes, automobiles, railroad related items or property and ships.  While taking photos of Lock and Dam #19, a river barge and tow boat came down river after passing through the lock… In this photo, the nose of the first barge is peeking out of the lower lock area.


There were 3 or 4 fishermen working the channel looking for a bit of excitement…or perhaps dinner.
 
In 2015, a total of 21,273,045 tons of product was ‘locked through’ Lock #19 via over 19,000 barges and almost 2,000 towboats.  A modern 15 barge tow is the equivalent to 1,050 semi-trucks or 240 railcars…


The towboat pictured above is the City of Louisville.  She has been around for a while.  Originally the Mary B, she was built in Pennsylvania in 1962.  Her name was changed to the Walter Curley in 1966 and then she was given her current name in 1976.  She’s had 6 different owners.

The City of Louisville is 148 feet long with a beam of 34.5 feet.  She is a twin screw towboat equipped with two 3,200 horsepower diesel engines.


I don’t know how long this barge and tow boat combination was but as you can see, it was sizable! (Perhaps 700 – 750 feet long with the towboat)


Located just a little downriver from the George M. Verity Towboat Museum and Lock #19 is Keokuk’s old Union Depot.  This Romanesque Revival depot, which was completed in 1891, was designed by the famous Chicago architectural firm, Burnham and Root.  It was one of the last buildings that Root designed before he died. 

Five railroads banded together to form the Keokuk Union Depot Company and then to build the depot: Keokuk and Western Railroad; St. Louis, Keokuk and Northwestern Railroad; Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (Rock Island line); Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway, and; the Wabash Railroad. 
There is currently a major push to revitalize the old depot with the immediate effort focused on replacing/refurbishing the roof.  Volunteers spend 3 days a week on the project.  There is a solid chance that this beautiful old depot will be preserved…


After 75 years of service, passenger rail service ended at the depot in 1967.  Then it was used by the railroads as a headquarters for their agents and operators.  The Keokuk Junction Railway acquired the local yard trackage and switching rights from the bankrupt Rock Island lines, and in 1981 they bought all of the shares of the Keokuk Union Depot Company.  The depot was used by the KJRY as the base for their tourist train operations, and its trolley rides across the Mississippi into Illinois.  Shortline Operator Pioneer Railcorp acquired the Keokuk Junction Railway's assets in 1996.  They used the old depot for storage until 2011.  At that point they conveyed the depot and the adjacent land to the City of Keokuk for 99 years. 

To learn more about this railroad depot and to see some photos of it back in the day when it was still serving as a passenger station, just go to http://www.keokukuniondepot.org/history.html.


This is the Hotel Iowa at 401 Main Street in Keokuk.  This Chicago Commercial Style structure was completed in 1913 to house workers working on a big local project…Keokuk Lock and Dam #19.  Today, it is a facility designed for independent living…for seniors who are at least 55 years of age.  There are 53 newly renovated 1 or 2 bedroom apartments in the building.  To check out the amenities offered as well as the costs, just go to http://www.primeapartmentrental.com/Historic_Hotel_Iowa.html.  It’s great to see that this handsome building has been repurposed!

Just click on any of the photographs to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what we’ve been up to!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Friday, July 22, 2016

Ogo’s – A Down Home Buffet in Keokuk Iowa

I really hadn’t planned for lunch in Keokuk on our drive from Springfield Illinois to Omaha Nebraska.  I’d picked out another town a bit further west along IA Hwy 2 for lunch but we got tied up taking photos in Keokuk and it was getting late.  So as we drove through Keokuk, we had our eyes open for a luncheon opportunity in the outskirts…


It was looking like we might not find anything and then we spotted Ogo’s Restaurant and Buffet.  It was early Sunday afternoon on the Memorial Day weekend and Ogo’s was quite busy.


This restaurant is pretty unassuming from the outside…just your basic building without much bling.


The inside is fairly basic too with lots of big tables for families or to share with others.  The low ceilings make the dining area just a little claustrophobic.  The age of the average patron definitely leaned toward pre-WWII and the baby boomer generations.


This is the only photo that we took of the buffet area in Ogo’s.  It is fairly tight here with the salads to the left, the meat, potatoes and vegetables in the middle and desserts at the lower left of the photo.  Within 10 minutes of our arrival, the line for Sunday dinner was out the door and the buffet area was packed with folks…


This was my first platter of food… The chicken fried steak was good as was the beef and noodles.  The fried chicken was very good!!  I focused on the chicken for my second helping and I could have kept eating except for the fact that I didn’t want to fall asleep from food overload and we had a long drive ahead of us yet…


Laurie also liked the fried chicken a lot.  She also gave high grades to the stuffing!  The beans were canned and the mashed potatoes were just OK but the most important items were above average for a buffet… 



We both had a couple of small desserts… The pie was decent and we both loved the peach cobbler. 

The people were nice and the clientele were obviously loyal patrons… Everybody seemed to know everyone else.  As for the price, it was insane!  There is a senior discount so our buffet dinners for two, including beverages and sales tax cost a grand total of $18.55!  Such a deal!

Ogo’s Restaurant and Buffet is located at 3753 Main Street in Keokuk Iowa.  Phone: 319-524-6457.  The restaurant and their buffet menu is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Ogos-Restaurant-Buffet-118890478665/.  Their website isn’t functioning…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a ‘light’ lunch!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Our Final Historic Stops in Illinois…

Rolling along US Hwy. 136 in west central Illinois on our way to Keokuk Iowa, we made a few more stops to photograph a scattering of historic places…

Our first stop was in Macomb, the county seat for McDonough County Illinois.


This is the former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Passenger Station in Macomb.  The station was built in 1913.  It’s now occupied by a travel agency and a taxi company.

Working with the Illinois Department of Transportation, Macomb made some renovations and upgrades to the station in the 1980s.  Local government has also sponsored replacement of the brick surround and driveway with new brick.  In the summer of 2014, the city made improvements to the parking lot, students from nearby Western Illinois University volunteered to paint the interior and residents of the McDonough County Jail painted the exterior and completed some basic carpentry work.


The Macomb Depot sits on tracks owned by the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad.  Best of all, this is an active depot with the “Carl Sandburg” and the “Illinois Zephyr” providing service 4 times a day.  There is even a waiting room!  The Amtrak trains run between Chicago and Quincy Illinois.  In 2015 this depot handled 71,231 passengers!

Macomb was founded in 1830 as the county seat of McDonough County.  It's named after General Alexander Macomb, an American general in the War of 1812.  War veterans were given land grants in Macomb, part of the Military Tract set aside by Congress.  The Northern Cross Railroad built a line through Macomb in 1855.  In 1938 that railroad had been the first to operate anywhere in Illinois.


Rolling on down the road, we came to Carthage Illinois.  Carthage, founded in 1837 and with a population today of approximately 2,550, is the county seat for Hancock County.

This is the Hancock County Courthouse in Carthage.  This Beaux Arts style structure was built in 1908 and it is the centerpiece of the Carthage Courthouse Square Historic District which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Courthouse square…with an earlier courthouse…has a bit of history going for it.  Orville Browning was a judge here.  He became a close advisor to Abraham Lincoln, also Secretary of State and Attorney General for the USA.  Stephen Douglas not only spoke here, he also served as a circuit court judge.  Of course, Lincoln spoke here too. 

Factoid:

·       In 1838 Lincoln gained the distinction of representing the only man to ever be hung in Carthage’s courthouse square.  Efram Fraim was found guilty of murder.  Because at the time Carthage had no jail, Fraim was kept at the Courthouse which was next to the school.  Fraim would converse with the children from his second-floor window.  As a result of these conversations, most of the school children were present when their new friend, Efraim, was hanged.


We couldn’t pass this magnificent and massive brick home without taking a photo… This is the Fitz Randolph house, a brick Italianate style home that was built in 1873.  Dr. Randolph was a medical doctor served as a state legislator and who served on the Board of Trustees for Carthage College.  Sadly, he died shortly after the home was completed.  His wife was forced to take in washing and rent rooms in order to keep her home.

Today this is the Fitz Randolph House Inn…a bed and breakfast with 5 guest suites available.  To check out the accommodations and learn more about this bed and breakfast, go to http://www.fitzrandolphhouseinn.com/.


This is the old Carthage Jail which was completed back in 1840.  It’s the site of a sad chapter in American History.  It was here June 27, 1844 that Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saints movement, and his brother Hyrum were murdered by an armed mob of approximately 150 – 200 men. 

It’s a long story, at least for my blog, but to summarize, Joseph had destroyed a printing press of a newspaper in the nearby city of Nauvoo Illinois.  He was charged with the destruction of the printing press, including charges of inciting riot and treason.  The destruction of the press also brought violent threats against Smith and the Mormon community by the non-Mormon populace in the area.  Smith then declared martial law on June 18 and called out the Nauvoo Legion, an organized city militia of about 5,000 men to protect Nauvoo from outside violence.  Illinois’ Governor, who was especially critical of the Mormon Religion, demanded that Smith turn himself in to face charges or the Governor would call out the State Militia.  Smith and his brother were part of the group that surrendered to the Carthage Constable…

After their murder, the Smiths became martyrs in the eyes of the members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.  The site and the city block it stands on is currently owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has been established as a historical site and visitors' center.  Go to https://www.lds.org/locations/carthage-jail?lang=eng&_r=1.


This is the former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy combination depot from Bushnell Illinois.  This classic little depot is located on park-like grounds just north and a little east of Hamilton.  I couldn’t determine when it was built…

Factoids:

·       The Nagel Brothers of Bushnell were the first to invent a process of making rolled oats without having to steam the oats.  Up until that time, the oats were first steamed to separate the groat from the hull. The patent for this new process was later sold to the Quaker Company.

·       The Bushnell Horse Show has become one of the better draft horse hitch shows in the tri-state region.  The Bushnell Horse Show features some of the best Belgian and Percheron hitches in the country. Teams have come from many different states and Canada to compete.


This depot is located in that same park-like setting.  Looking at the reference materials that I could find on-line, I believe that this combination depot was formerly located in Burnside Illinois, an unincorporated community in Hancock County.  If I’m correct, this depot was built in 1906 by the Toledo, Peoria and Western Railroad.

Factoid:

The Toledo, Peoria and Western Railroad was founded as the Toledo, Peoria and Warsaw Railroad back in 1863.  This short line railroad continues to operate today, (153 years later!), with about 247 miles of track running from Mapleton, Illinois, through Peoria across Illinois to Logansport Indiana.


The 2 depots and a number of other old time structures such as this log cabin can be found on the grounds of the Western Illinois Threshers just a little north east of Hamilton Illinois and not far from the Mississippi River.  When we were wandering around the grounds, there were a few folks who’d set up their campers in the peace and quiet to enjoy the weekend…

In the spring of 1968 a group of neighbors met in farm shop north of Hamilton, Illinois to discuss how they wanted to display their growing collection of antique tractors.  Today this group has grown exponentially as Western Illinois Threshers, Inc.  Their members work throughout the year to prepare for their 3-day annual show that educates, entertains, and strives to bring back fond memories of bygone ways of life.

The Threshers grounds have grown to 80 acres which accommodates 2 main buildings used as a meeting place, a food stand and exhibition area, a tractor headquarters and raffle buildings, the 2 railroad depots, an early 1900s school house, general store, print shop, a permanent steam-powered saw mill, sawyer's shed, two log cabins, a blacksmith shop, museum and an old-time gas station.  In 1990, the ‘Western Illinois Shortline Railroad’ was established on the organization’s grounds.

In 2016, Western Illinois Threshers are holding their 49th annual 3-day from August 5th through the 7th.  For more information including a plethora of photos, go to http://www.westernillinoisthreshers.org/schedule.htm.




Laurie had me stop as we headed back into Hamilton Illinois along the back road from the Western Illinois Threshers park-like setting.  We both love the look of this beautiful little stone house with the tin roof!

Hamilton is the largest city in Hancock County Illinois but that wasn’t always the case.  The town of Nauvoo, founded by the Mormons, is located just north of Hamilton.  More of a historical site today, back in 1844, Nauvoo had a population of around 12,000!  At that point, it was almost as large as Chicago… Nauvoo is an interesting place to visit.  Operated by the Mormon Church, it is well maintained with many handsome buildings and it’s a true slice of Americana.  We’ve been there a couple of times.  Check it out at http://www.historicnauvoo.net/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Monday, July 18, 2016

Along the Road in West Central Illinois

As we rolled northwest through central Illinois toward Iowa, we kept looking for historic sites, old railroad depots and whatever else caught our eye to photograph…

The first stop was in Cass County Illinois.


This classic building in Virginia Illinois is not listed in the National Register of Historic Places…but I liked its solid Romanesque look!  There is no doubt in my mind that it was a bank for many years.  Its imposing fa├žade demonstrates confidence and strength.  It appears that someone may be working on preserving this building…something like what I’d do if I won the Mega Millions or Power Ball lottery!

One local attraction for nature lovers is the Rexroat Prairie, a 5 acre section of land that has been restored, complete with its ‘original’ prairie growth.  These plants include everything from alum root to prairie willow and aster to wood sorel.   As occurred naturally in the olden days, the prairie is burned off each year…revitalizing the soil and keeping out invasive plants. If you are into plants or prairie restoration, you can check out the list at http://media.wix.com/ugd/3a3ecd_71ac58c1478f411e9382da83abf42168.pdf. FYI, Rexroat Prairie is also home to a couple of very old log cabins, one from Arkansas (ca. 1860) and the other from Kentucky (ca. 1950).


Here’s what I had listed to find as we passed through Virginia Illinois.  This is the former Baltimore and Ohio combination freight and passenger depot in Virginia.  I wasn’t sure that this was the right building until I noted the telegrapher’s bay and ticket office protruding from the back of the structure.  I couldn’t find anything to help me determine when the depot was built. 



I’ll bet that you can’t guess what this restaurant is named…  How about “The Depot”!  Check it out at http://visitthedepot.com/.  Unfortunately, at least from a railroad fan’s viewpoint, the exterior of the building was redone and remodeled due to a fire.

Virginia is the county seat for Cass County Illinois.  The town had an estimated population of 1,551 in 2014 but unlike many small towns across America, Virginia’s population has been relatively constant over the years.  In 1880 there were 1,420 residents and in 1980 there were 1,825.  Cass County itself was named for Lewis Cass.  Cass was a general in the War of 1812, Governor of the Michigan Territory, and United States Secretary of State in 1860.  He was serving as Andrew Jackson's Secretary of War when the County was named.


Our next stop was in Beardstown Illinois.  Beardstown is situated on the Illinois River in Cass County.  Major employers include 2 grain terminals that utilize barges on the river to move their product as well as a major pork slaughterhouse. 

I took this photo of this sign just because I liked it!  The Seeger family must have been prominent in Beardstown.  I found references to Seeger’s Hall and the Seeger block in a history of the county at https://archive.org/stream/historyofcasscou00perr/historyofcasscou00perr_djvu.txt

FYI…In 1882 the Quaker Mill Company launched a national advertising campaign for Quaker Oats.  In 1885, Quaker Oats introduced the cereal box, making it possible for consumers to buy in quantities other than bulk.

Beardstown Factoids:

·       William Henry Herndon, Abraham Lincoln's Springfield law partner, claimed that Lincoln contracted syphilis from a prostitute in Beardstown.

·       The town is also the site of a famous Lincoln/Douglas debate at the Beardstown Courthouse.

·       William "Duff" Armstrong, the accused murderer of James Preston Metzker, was tried in Beardstown and successfully defended by Abraham Lincoln.

·       The “Beardstown Ladies” was a group of 16 elderly women who formed a ‘club’ that invested in stocks and reportedly outperformed the Dow averages.  They received world-wide publicity and sold many videos and books on their adventure.  Check out the story at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beardstown_Ladies.


The Beardstown Opera House was built in 1872.  As it neared completion the opera house was almost completely destroyed by a tornado.  With the help of the owners and volunteer townsfolk, it was rebuilt.  The first troupe to play the theater was General Tom Thumb of P.T. Barnum fame.  In 2004, the opera house was purchased by the Heritage Preservation Foundation, a non-profit organization created for the purpose of owning and revitalizing the Opera House.

FYI…Tom Thumb was a dwarf, born of normal sized parents, who grew to a height of 3 ft. 4 in. and weighed 71 lbs.  He was adopted by P.T. Barnum who was a distant relative.  Barnum taught Tom (Charles Sherwood Stratton) to sing, dance, mime, and impersonate famous people.  Tom Thumb became quite wealthy and he actually bailed out Barnum later in life when Barnum was in financial difficulties.  You can learn more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Tom_Thumb.

Regular live theater productions are presented in the Beardstown Opera House.  Two productions have already taken place this year.  In late July, there will be a 3-day run of “Once Upon a Mattress” and in October the production will be “Duck, Duck, Shoot”.



From Beardstown we rolled on north on US Hwy. 67, making a slight detour on US Hwy 24 into the town of Rushville Illinois.  Rushville is the county seat for Schuyler County.  This is the building that we were looking for…the Phoenix Opera House Block.
 
The Phoenix Opera House Block was built in 1882.  It housed commercial businesses on the first floor and an opera house on the second floor.  The opera house hosted traveling performers and theater companies as well as local social events.  The opera house closed in 1910, as churches began to host the town's social functions and the local movie theater provided entertainment.  For over 30 years beginning in 1924, the opera house served as a Masonic lodge.  The building is one of the few surviving examples of a combined opera house and commercial building.



This is the Schuyler County Courthouse in Rushville.  The clock tower states that the courthouse was built in 1881.  For some reason though, even though the courthouse is about 135 years old, this striking building isn’t listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  I’m guessing that too many structural modifications have been made over the years.

Factoid:

·       Edward W. Scripps, newspaper publisher and founder of The E. W. Scripps Company, was born on a farm in Rushville.  Ellen Browning Scripps, Edward’s half-sister also lived there.  Ellen went on to found or to be inextricably involved in the development of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Scripps College in Claremont, California.  She financed the Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve and she was an early contributor to the San Diego Zoo.  Ellen helped to found the Scripps Memorial Hospital and funded the Scripps Research Clinic which eventually became The Scripps Research Institute.  After her death her home was transformed into the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla California.  Some small town girl!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a short trip through local Illinois history!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Friday, July 15, 2016

A Few Sights and a Little History – Christian County Illinois

These postings are a little out of order since my last post involved our dinner in Springfield Illinois… In any case, as we neared our overnight stop in Springfield, via US Hwy. 51 and IL Hwy. 49, we passed through a couple of towns in Christian County. 

There is almost always something historical and/or interesting to look at…


We rolled on into Pana Illinois and then we sought out the former combination railroad depot that was built in 1927.  It was shared by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad as well as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  For a while the old depot was being used as a business but it looks abandoned now.

Pana was a major railroad hub beginning in the 1850s with 4 tracks for 4 railroads that involved a rare double crossing.  The other 2 railroads that passed through Pana were the Indianapolis and St. Louis and the Illinois Central Railroads. 

Back in the boom days of railroading, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad operated a divisional maintenance headquarters in Pana.  That facility included a machine shop with a power plant, 16-stall roundhouse, transfer table, a 2-story car shop, turntable, blacksmith shop, and offices.


This is the Louis Jehle house at 511 East 5th Street in Pana.  This impressive classic Queen Anne Style home was built for Mr. Jehle, a local businessman,  in 1895.  As of 1995 when it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home only had 4 owners including the current resident.

Factoids:

·       At one time, Pana came to be known as the City of Roses.  Many major florists and growers set up operations here.  There were 109 greenhouses in Pana!

·       The township of Pana was originally named “Stone Coal District”. 

·       The Pana riot, or Pana massacre, occurred on April 10, 1899, resulting in the deaths of 7 people.  The riot occurred after coal mine owners brought in black ‘scabs’/replacements in order to break an ongoing strike by union miners.  It’s an ugly story!  Check it out at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pana_riot.


Laurie and I had driven through Taylorville Illinois on many occasions back in the late 1970’s and as late as 1980.  But we’d never stopped to look around at all… Those trips were really weekend visits to check out my Loss Prevention operations at several Illinois and Iowa Venture Stores.

In any case, this time we actually took a few moments to look around for some historic places.  This is the Christian County Historical Society’s “Settlement” on the edge of Taylorville.  Unfortunately the settlement was closed that day and I ended up taking photos through the fence.

The first building on the left is the original Christian County Courthouse.  There also is a school, a railroad depot, a 1820s log cabin and at least 3 other historical structures in this open air museum.  The Historical Society’s website is http://cchistoricalsociety.blogspot.com/2010/10/wide-world-of-trains.html and they are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Christian-County-Illinois-Historical-Society-and-Museum-137053123008672/


Of course I was searching for the railroad depot!  This little combination depot was moved to the museum from Owaneco Illinois, a small village in Christian County.  Owaneco’s population peaked in 1940 at 366 residents but they did have a depot!  I couldn’t find any information on this little Baltimore and Ohio combination depot, but I noted that the Historical Society is in the midst of researching the history of this facility.


This is the former Chicago and Illinois Midland Railroad depot in Taylorville.  This railroad never had more than 100 miles or so of track, it never served Chicago and it’s still a shortline railroad...  In 1996 this railroad became part of the Genesee and Wyoming family of shortlines and its name was changed to the Illinois and Midland Railroad.  The ca. 1925 depot is now being used as offices for that the railroad. 

As for the name of the Chicago and Illinois Midland Railroad, the railroad has roots dating back to the Pawnee Railroad of 1888 which connected Pawnee Illinois with the Illinois Central Railroad some 15 miles to the west. In 1905 the Pawnee was purchased by coal-related interests for the express purpose of moving coal from central Illinois coalfields to their coal-fired power plants located near Chicago.  The 2 companies were the Chicago Edison Company and Illinois Midland Coal Company.  Hence the name Chicago and Midland Railroad reflecting its ownership by these two companies.
  

This is the Christian County Courthouse.  The stone Romanesque Revival style courthouse, which was constructed in 1902, forms the centerpiece of the roughly 14 block Taylorville Courthouse Historic District.  The courthouse cost $100,533 to build, or roughly $6,000,000 in today’s dollars.

The county was organized in 1839 from parts of Macon, Montgomery, Sangamon and Shelby Counties.  It was first named Dane County, in honor of Nathan Dane, one of the framers of the Ordinance of 1787.  However, since the majority of early settlers came from Christian County Kentucky, this name was finally adopted.

FYI…The Ordinance of 1787 was an act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States that created the Northwest Territory, the first organized territory of the United States, from lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains.

Factoids:

·       Edward Mills Purcell was born in Taylorville.  He discovered nuclear magnetic resonance (MRI) and won the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physics.

·       Yvonne Craig, the actress who appeared in the Batman television series as Batgirl, was born in Taylorville.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave