The Iron Road in the Prairie State

The Iron Road in the Prairie State

The Story of Illinois Railroading
Cordery, Simon
Distribution: World
Publication date: 01/20/2016
Format: Hardback 66 b&w illus., 8 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-01906-6
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In 1836, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas agreed on one thing: Illinois needed railroads. Over the next fifty years, the state became the nation’s railroad hub, with Chicago at its center. Speculators, greed, growth, and regulation followed as the railroad industry consumed unprecedented amounts of capital and labor. A nationwide market resulted, and the Windy City became the site of opportunities and challenges that remain to this day. In this first-of-its-kind history, full of entertaining anecdotes and colorful characters, Simon Cordery describes the explosive growth of Illinois railroads and its impact on America. Cordery shows how railroading in Illinois influenced railroad financing, the creation of a national economy, and government regulation of business. Cordery's masterful chronicle of rail development in Illinois from 1837 to 2010 reveals how the state’s expanding railroads became the foundation of the nation’s rail network.

Author Bio

Simon Cordery researches, writes, and rides on railroads on both sides of the Atlantic. He is Chair of the History Department at Iowa StateUniversity andheads the Inductions Committee of the National Railroad Hall of Fame. Amember of the Lexington Group in Transportation History,he has published twootherbooks and numerous articles.


This remarkable and insightful book offers for the first time a rich narrative about Illinois history through the lens of emerging railroads from their muddy beginnings to the present day. Simon Cordery has succeeded in capturing a unique national understanding of the industry's history by focusing on how railroads and the state of Illinois evolved simultaneously in separate yet interdependent ways.The Iron Road in the Prairie State is an informative and beautifully written overview of railroading in Illinois, the hub of the national transportation network. Through the birth, growth, decline, and resurgence of the railroads, Simon Cordery has admirably set local developments in the broader context of national changes in business, labor, and regulatory patterns.

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
1. Preliminaries
2. Development Delayed
3. Optimism Revived
4. Cultivating the Prairie
5. Financing Railroads
6. Civil War, Fire, and Expansion
7. Illinois Railroad Labor
8. A Kaleidoscope of Regulations
9. Panic and Innovation
10. Bridge Building and "Over-Building"
11. Excursions and Interurbans
12. Coal and Competition
13. Progressive Regulation
14. World War I and the 1920s
15. Depression, Dieselization, and War
16. Post-War Challenges
17. National Solutions?
18. Salvation

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