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Showing posts from February, 2019

Get Your Kicks On...Route 129!

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Illinois Route 129 is hardly unique among State Routes in that it is a former alignment of US Route 66, specifically the 1940 realignment, but it is an interesting both for its time as The Mother Road, and a more modern case study in deteriorating infrastructure in this country, as is used to be much more robust than its current 4-mile alignment between I-55 and IL-113 in Braidwood. For those looking to traverse Route 66, however, you'll find many more roadside attractions on the adjacent Route 53, like the  Polk-a-Dot Drive In  in Braidwood, or the  Gemini Giant  in Wilmington. Former bridge over railroad tracks at Braceville on IL-129 (Formerly US-66). Image:  Library of Congress But today's blog is on IL-129. It's a product of the Interstate System, as it  gained its number in 1960  when US-66 was rerouted onto a new freeway slightly west of the 1940 realignment, in anticipation of what would become US-66's replacement, I-55, which is what it is today. IL-

Poor's Manual of Railroads of the United States

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Before the days of the internet, the only way to get information on the railroad industry was through documents, photographs, maps and books on the railroad industry. One of the most comprehensive books on the industry came from Henry V. Poor, of what is now Standard & Poor's , or S&P. Poor began publishing a manual on railroads in 1868, which was geared toward investors at the time, and included information railroad companies and their capital, rolling stock, expenditures, and other financial information on any particular railroad in the United States. The Poor Manuals remained in annual publication until 1924. A 1909 Volume I own, in relatively bad shape, but as old and large as the book is, I'll take it! I discovered the Poor Manuals in my search for abandoned railroads , as they include a treasure trove of information on even the most obscure railroads. Many of the editions are digitized and available in eBook format for free on Google Books . Reprinted edit

Abraham Lincoln: The Railroad Lawyer

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Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, and before becoming the 16th President of the United States, was a practicing attorney near Springfield, Illinois. Although he moved to Illinois as a young adult, he was born and raised in neighboring Kentucky . Mid 19th century train . He would first become a figure in national politics when he was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1846. He vowed to only serve one term and returned to his law practice upon his term's expiration. In 1851, Lincoln represented his first railroad client; the Alton & Sangamon Railroad in a dispute over pledged shares by an investor and landowner, James Barret. Barret was unhappy that the A&S changed the planned route of the railroad, which he believed would negatively impact the value of his land, and thus backed out of financing his share of the railroad. Lincoln and the A&S won the case, which helped secure railroad charters across the country. The railroad was an early predecess

The Forgotten Industrial Railways of Plainfield

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Growing up in the next town over, I can safely say that Plainfield, IL has had (and continues to have) a much more interesting railroad history than Bolingbrook . Plainfield is the home of a Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway junction (now run by CN), and once had interurban railway service via the Aurora Plainfield and Joliet Railroad. I have discussed and photographed some history of each of these lines on my Facebook page, including the EJ&E caboose  on display off of IL-126. But today, we're going to talk about the most obscure railroads in Plainfield, the Material Services Railroad and Chicago Gravel Company, both of which helped create many of the lakes in the Plainfield area. The ice ages beginning 1.8 million years ago left many stone deposits in the land of northern Illinois. Quarrying is active even today along the DuPage and Des Plaines Rivers, and many spent quarries have been converted into Forest Preserve land. Such is the case with  Lake Renwick . Materi

The First Super Bowl

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The first Super Bowl took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum , owned by the University of Southern California . Image: Los Angeles Coliseum, 1967 . The stadium broke ground on December 21, 1921, opening two years later. Throughout its lifetime, it has been home to the USC Trojans , the NFL’s LA Rams (1946-1979; 2016-2020), LA Chargers (1960, 2018-2020), and LA Raiders (1982-1994), the XFL ’s LA Extreme (2001), the MLB’s LA Dodgers (1958-1961), and several other professional sports teams. The first Super Bowl was a meeting between the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers, and the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs, played on 1/15/1967. Tickets were $12. Originally called the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game”, Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt proposed the term “Super Bowl” to market the game similar to NCAA Bowl games. This coining wouldn’t become official until Super Bowl III in 1969. The first Super Bowl, then known as the AFC-NFC Championship Game . Water Iooss photo, SF Gate. Unfortunatel

Punxsutawney's Abandoned Railroad, the Pennsylvania Northwestern Railroad

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It’s Groundhog Day ! And of course, Punxsutawney, PA has some forgotten railroad history. The North Western Railroad of Pennsylvania was envisioned as a connection between Pittsburgh and Altoona, PA, first proposed in the 1880’s. The line never made it to either of its proposed endpoints, but was constructed between Fordham in the west, and McGees Mills in the east, and thus passing through Punxsutawney, for about 21 miles in length. The line was acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad , becoming one of the over 2,000 companies that were part of its system. Passenger service along the line ended in 1940, but freight continued up until the 1980’s along the line. Punxsutawney, PA Station . Railroad Station Database After its closure, most of the line was sold to private parties, but a 4 mile stretch was saved as the Mahoning Shadow Trail .