Railroads and the Founding of Mendota
The marker is located in Mendota, and is mounted on a large boulder near the intersection of 8th Street and Main Street near the Burlington-Northern Railroad and the Amtrak Station.
The Mendota Museum and Historical Society and the Illinois State Historical Society
In 1853 two railroads met near this spot and the community of Mendota was born. Mendota is an Indian word said to mean "crossing of the trails." The Chicago & Aurora Railroad planned to expand southwest from Aurora to meet the Illinois Central Railroad. Meanwhile, the IC was building northward up the middle of the state. Its charter called for its main line to proceed northward from Cairo to the western end of the Illinois & Michigan Canal at LaSalle. From there it was to turn northwest toward the Galena mining district. During a chance meeting of several railroad officers in early 1852 in Boston, the lines agreed to have the C&A and the Central Military Tract Railroad, which would connect Mendota and Galesburg, meet the Illinois Central at the point closest to Aurora. In June of that year, the Illinois legislature authorized extension of the C&A "to a point not less than 15 miles north" of the canal. Thus the curve of the IC toward Galena was moved to a point just north of this marker. In 1856 the C&A and the Central Military Tract Railroads merged and became the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. That line, through recent mergers, has become the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. The Illinois Central, meanwhile, abandoned its line through Mendota in 1985.
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