Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 7COMMUNICATION FROM THE CITY COUNCIL OF GALENA RELATING TO A RAILROAD
May 16, 1843
Galena, situated in the northwest corner of Illinois, had been an important lead mining center since 1818. It was in the interest of both that city and Chicago to have a connecting railroad to facilitate commerce. The Galena and Chicago Railroad Company was chartered in 1836, and in the following year a preliminary study was completed and construction began under the direction of E. K. Hubbard. In 1839, Hubbard's death and the economic depression triggered by the Panic of 1837 stopped the project. In 1846, a new group of investors purchased the company and by 1848, ten miles of track had been laid. That year the citizens of Chicago saw "The Pioneer," the city's first railroad engine. By 1853, the line had reached Freeport. In late 1864, the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company absorbed the line. The old Galena and Chicago had become part of the mammoth line which transported the bulk of the nation's wheat harvest to Chicago.
Points to Consider
Where is Galena?
Why were the two cities important to each other in 1843?
How would farmers in northwest Illinois benefit from such a railroad?
Why would railroad construction be delayed in 1843?