ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD
In the early 1800’s most of the State of Illinois was unsettled wilderness. Though a few towns flourished on waterways, most of the towns were isolated and the crude roads between them were hazardous to travel. It was in the 1850’s, with the coming of the railroad, that Illinois was transformed by the growth and development of agriculture and industry. As the iron rails began to link the cities and towns of Illinois with the rest of America, trade and travel began to flourish. The growth of Illinois was so rapid that only one other state ever equalized its record of expansion and development.
The Illinois Central, when it received its charger to 1851, was planned to open up the rich and fertile land in Illinois. As the tracks were begin laid in the Illinois Central Railroad sent men to the eastern cities of the United States and to Europe to tell the people about the fertile land available at low cost. As a result of this advertising campaign carried on by the Illinois Central Railroad some of the first Scandinavian settlers came to Illinois and founded the city of Odin, named for the principal god of Scandinavian mythology.
Odin was first served by Illinois Central Railroad in 1856. In the same year the original charger lines were completed. At that time the 705 mile railroad, in the State of Illinois, was the longest railroad in the world. The original plans called for lines being built from Cairo north to Freeport, west from Freeport ,to what is now East Dubuque, and from Centralia to Chicago. Since that time the Illinois Central has grown to become one of America’s major railroads with 6,500 miles of line in fourteen states. Because of its strategic position in the United States, shipments moving east or west across the country must at some point cross the lines of the Illinois Central. The railroad has 500 connections with 150 railroads in the territory it serves.
For more than 100 years the Illinois Central Railroad has been active in agricultural development. The Illinois Central maintains the largest agricultural and forestry department of any railroad in the United States. The Illinois Central started its farm development programs before there was any land grant college in existence. Beef and dairy cattle programs were started by the Illinois Central agricultural department before they were started by any other railroad. It was largely through the efforts of the Illinois Central that soybeans were introduced into central Illinois. This valuable crop has become a chief income crop and is also planted to maintain the rich soil in the area.
Every third day a new industry is located along the lines of the Illinois Central. During the past five years 115 new industries have found their homes along the Illinois Central lines in Illinois alone. Such companies as Valley Steel Products, Norge Division-Borg Warner, and Libby, McNeil and Libby have located their plant sites along the lines of the Illinois Central in central Illinois because of the excellent transportation facilities offered by the Illinois Central Railroad.
Odin, central Illinois, and the Illinois Central have a common interest and are bound together for mutual benefits. The Illinois Central depends upon Odin and central Illinois for traffic revenues which help to operate and maintain the line. The citizens of Odin look toward the Illinois Central as an important local employer and as a mover of their goods. Last year 16 citizens of Odin were employed by the Illinois Central. They earned a total of $115,472 for their services.
Together, F. K. Stanford, superintendent of the Illinois Division at Champaign, R. W. Busk, district traffic agent at Mattoon, and E. L. Harville, agent at Odin, work to maintain the high standard of transportation services which the citizens of Odin expect of the Illinois Central and which has earned for that railroad the distinctive title: "Main Line of Mid-America."