Steamboats and Railroads

Steamboats and Railroads (HM139A)

Location: Quincy, IL 62301 Adams County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 56.139', W 91° 24.957'

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Lincoln traveled to Quincy by stagecoach in 1854 after crossing the Illinois River at Naples. Lincoln's first documented visit was to support the Congressional candidacy of Archibald Williams and to attack the Kansas- Nebraska Act and its author, Stephen A. Douglas. Yet Lincoln and Douglas held similar views on the importance of transportation. As fellow legislators in the 1836-37 Illinois General Assembly, both had included Quincy in bills to promote transportation in Illinois. Both believed Quincy, the state's westernmost community, was the right place for a new railroad hub. Lincoln and Douglas traveled by train to Quincy for the 1858 debate. Illinois' miles of track had nearly doubled during that decade, and both Senate candidates traveled often by rail. Douglas used a lavish private car provided by the Illinois Central Railroad; Lincoln a common coach. The day after the Quincy debate they boarded the City of Louisiana steamboat for their final debate in Alton. Lincoln returned by train to Quincy in 1859, twice headed for Council Bluffs (Iowa), crossing the river by ferry, and once returning from Hannibal after doing legal work for the Illinois Central Railroad.

The Quincy and Chicago Depot at Front and Oak, Quincy's first train station, welcomed the candidates for the Lincoln-Douglas Debate in 1858. Douglas arrived by private train the evening before and Lincoln on the regular Burlington train from Macomb that morning. The railroad line from Chicago to Quincy, later called the CB&Q, had been completed one year earlier. The depot was replaced in 1864 by a new station at Front and Vermont. This sketch is taken from a bird's-eye-view map of Quincy, circa 1859.

Quincy owed its existence to the river. Located on the Mississippi, Quincy had ideal docking conditions for steamboats and soon became a doorway to the West. In 1835 about twenty-five steamboats arrived at the Quincy wharf. By 1841 the number grew to nearly 1,200. Thousands of bushels of corn, potatoes, wheat, oats, beans, and barrels of pork were shipped from Quincy's port. Wheat milled rose from 20,000 bushels in 1835 to 275,000 bushels in 1841. By 1853 Quincy became a port of entry and boats brought foreign goods. The coming of the railroad in 1857 gave farms better access to the river and linked Quincy to the east. The completion of the Quincy and Palmyra Railroad also in 1857 gave Quincy rail access to the west. Commerce and population grew together, and Quincy became the third largest city in Illinois during the 1850's.

HM NumberHM139A
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 5th, 2014 at 9:44pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 635343 N 4421816
Decimal Degrees39.93565000, -91.41595000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 56.139', W 91° 24.957'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 56' 8.34" N, 91° 24' 57.42" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 601-699 All American Park, Quincy IL 62301, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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