In the spring of 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt made the “Great Loop Tour” of Western states by rail leaving Washington, D.C. on April 1 and returning June 5. His private train, “The Roosevelt Special,” was pulled by various coal-fueled steam locomotives for 65 days over 24 different rail lines. The longest presidential tour to date, it covered almost 14,000 miles while Roosevelt visited 147 towns in 21 states and 2 territories and gave 265 speeches to an estimated 3,000,000 people. The tour officially started and ended in Illinois where the president made 16 official stops, including Chicago, Evanston, Freeport, Lincoln and Danville.
Official Macon County Historian Mark Sorensen will discuss Roosevelt’s trip during an illustrated presentation with emphasis on his Illinois stops and special attention to his June 4 visit to Springfield and talks at the Millikin University dedication and Wabash train depot.
Mark W. Sorensen is the past president of the Illinois State Historical Society and former Gov. Oglesby Mansion board member. He has written numerous magazine, newspaper and online articles about state and local history including the biographies of all of the Decatur Staley football players and Moweaqua Coal Mine disaster victims. He was previously the assistant director of the Illinois State Archives and currently writes the “Historical Headlines” column for Illinois Heritage, the ISHS popular history magazine.
Governor Richard H. Oglesby Mansion
421 West William Street
Decatur, IL (Map)