Rock Island and Rock Island Arsenal
Arsenal Memorial Park
Officer's Wives Club of 1967 and The Illinois State Historical Society
Rock Island, surrounded by the waters of the Mississippi, played a significant part in the opening of the west. The Indians in the area early recognized the strategic advantage of the island and held ceremonial gatherings here. Nearby, at Campbell and Credit Islands, were fought the westernmost campaigns of the War of 1812. Fort Armstrong, at the lower end of Rock Island, was garrisoned from 1816 to 1836, and the Black Hawk War ended here in 1832. Among the troops that served in this vicinity were future presidents Zachary Taylor and Abraham Lincoln. The Island was the home of Indian trader George Davenport. The support of a terminal of the first bridge to cross the Mississippi River rested on the Island. Two weeks after the bridge was opened in 1856, the steamer 'Effie Afton' rammed a pier, setting it afire, and the drawspan was destroyed. Abraham Lincoln represented the railroad interests in the lawsuit that followed. A prison for captured Confederate soldiers was maintained on the Island from 1863 to 1865. Rock Island Arsenal was established here in 1862 as one of three in the Midwest. It has served the nation through all wars and conflicts since 1898. Today, besides being the location of the arsenal, the Island is the site of headquarters, US Army Weapons Command, plus the Arsenal's John M. Browning Museum and several other Federal agencies. It is also the site of one of the world's time capsules.
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