Illinois Central Railroad, The
The marker is located in Mason, on the Northeast edge of town, on IL 37.
Division of Highways and The Illinois State Historical Society
On September 27, 1856, near this site, workmen drove the spike which completed the 705 miles of the Illinois Central Railroad's charter lines and the first federal land grant railroad in the United States. In 1850 Congress had granted the alternate sections of public land within six miles on either side of the railroad between specific sites to the State of Illinois. The following year the state issued a charter to the Illinois Central which outlined the route from the southern end of the Illinois and Michigan Canal (LaSalle) to Cairo with branches to Chicago and, through Galena, to the banks of the Mississippi River. As construction advanced the Illinois Central received about 2,595,000 acres. The Illinois Central developed the surrounding territory to assure an increased business. They conducted an intensive publicity campaign by sending pamphlets and agents to the eastern states, Canada, England, Germany, Norway and Sweden to encourage immigration to Illinois. The company sold its fertile prairie land on liberal credit terms and settlers moved to the previously undeveloped region along the Centralia Chicago branch. In later years, the Illinois Central encouraged the development of a variety of crops such as sorghum, sugar beets, cotton, fruits, vegetables and soybeans; the improvement of livestock; the use of farm machinery; and the development of industry and coal mining. For sixteen years the Illinois Central was exclusively an Illinois railroad; then it began to expand into other states.
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