Peoria and Rock Island Railroad || Rock Island Trail

Railroad: Peoria and Rock Island Railroad
Location: Princeville, Illinois
Date: c. 1900
Credit: J.F. Kegebein, Collection at the Princeville Heritage Museum, #101.2017.125

A group of men pose in front of the Rock Island Railroad station in Princeville, Illinois, in the early twentieth century.

This line was built between Peoria and Rock Island, Illinois, in the late 1860s post-Civil War railroad boom. It later became a branch of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, known as the “Rock Island.” As cars and trucks cut into local rail service, the Rock Island had abandoned part of this line by 1960. Passenger service ended in 1967, and by 1975 the railroad was bankrupt. The Interstate Commerce Commission ordered the railroad to liquidate in 1980 after determining it could not be successfully reorganized.

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Trail: Rock Island Trail
Trail length: 38.2 miles
Location: Princeville, Illinois
Date: July 23, 2021
Credit: Mike Matejka, courtesy of the photographer

A trio of grinning girls bike the Rock Island Trail in downtown Princeville. The former rail corridor is now occupied by Town Street and the depot has been replaced with a volunteer fire department. The Rock Island Trail opened 26 miles in 1989 and spans 38 miles in 2023 with plans to expand further.

Railroads were often envisioned and financed by entrepreneurial men and built by the labor of immigrants and working-class men. Rail-trails extend their legacies, often through the efforts of broad and diverse communities. Like the trains that went before them, trails can be enjoyed by a wide range of citizens—big and small.

Exhibited by:

CRP&A

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