Timeline 1845-1854
In their own words
The era and the effort
Founders: Tragedy to triumph
Builders: Executing the plan.
Rock Island throws a party
Note on sources
Railroad home
Grand Excursion 2004
Quad-Cities Tourism
A taste of 1854
R.I. Lines links
Rock Island Technical Society
Matt Willett's R. I. Family Tree
Preservation of the C, RI & P
Illinois Trails
Related links
R.I. County Historical Society
Col Davenport House
Putnam Museum
Quad-Cities Online

In their own words...

"The time is here, gentlemen, when someone must open the gateway to (the) western empire..."
-- James Grant of Davenport, at a June, 1845 meeting at Col. George Davenport's home on Rock Island; as quoted by F. J. Nevins in a 70th anniversary history of the Rock Island Lines.

``The question is simply this -- shall we keep our promises and have the road, or violate them, and have no road?''
-- Rock Island Lines collector Lemuel Andrews, in an 1852 notice in the Rock Island Republican, urging stockholders to make the next payment on shares bought on margin.

``To the 22nd of February, 1854 -- the espousal day of the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Ocean. May no vandal hands ever break the connection.''
-- Toast by N.B. Buford of Rock Island, president of the day at ceremonies celebrating the arrival of the railroad.

''To Davenport, our sister city -- her liberality and promptness in ... a common enterprise prove that generosity and magnaminity know no locality. May nothing but our noble river ever divide us.''
-- Also a toast by Mr. Buford.

``To the twin cities of the Mississippi valley, Rock Island and Davenport -- (tied by) sacred friendly intercourse by which the people are now and ever shall be united.''
-- Toast by Davenport city councilman Austin Corbin, Feb. 22, 1854, at the ceremonies celebrating the arrival of the railroad in Rock Island.

``... and to the credit of the people of Rock Island, let it be recorded alcohol was not permitted to poison the union ... no substitute for either of them were provided except honest tea and coffee ...''
-- A Chicago paper's report on the Feb. 22 celebration, as carried in The Rock Island Republican March 1, 1854.

``The beautiful and substantial bridges over which we have this day passed were built by John Warner & Co., and Stone & Boomer.''
-- Henry Farnam, Feb. 22, 1854, at the ceremonies celebrating the arrival of the railroad in Rock Island.

``... to the Irish, who dig our canals and build our railroads ...''
-- Toast by J. N. Danforth Jr., editor of The Rock Island Republican, at the ceremonies celebrating the arrival of the railroad in Rock Island

``Thanks ... are hereby returned to the mayor and citizens of Rock Island for the abundant feast provided for us, (and to) those families who so generously opened their doors for our accomodation ...''
-- Letter of thanks drafted by out-of-town celebrants as they rode the train back to Chicago Feb. 23, 1854.

``We understand some of our neighbors in Davenport are not entirely suited -- but when we tell them that more Davenport people than our own citizens were invited, we think they have no just or reasonable ground of complaint.''
-- The Rock Island Republican, March 1, 1854, responding to gripes that Davenport had been slighted in the arrangements for the Feb. 22 celebration of the railroad's arrival in Rock Island.

(The Rock Island Lines) ``paid heavily for its right of way through Rock Island (County), for the people were still smarting from the effect of their failure in getting the first road for which they had bargained ...'
' -- From a 1914 `History of Rock Island County.'

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