Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Railroad Train to Bunker Hill

A major influence on the growth of Bunker Hill was the decision to run the railroad through Bunker Hill.  In 1851, ten years before the outbreak of the Civil war, the only mode of transportation in Bunker Hill was by stage coach, wagon, or horse over poorly constructed roads.

In the winter of 1852 and the year of 1853, the first work was done on the new railroad.  The railroad was completed in 1854 and the first train came up from Alton loaded with steel rails and ties for the railroad.  They call the first train the Tiger, and described it as resembling a threshing machine engine with the smoke stack on the back of the engine.

Photo: Lee and Arthur Sutton - Mail Clerks
 The first passenger train came through Bunker Hill in August 1855, bringing the officials of the railroad company along.  The decision to run the Indianapolis and St. Louis Railroad through this city made the difference between Woodburn and Bunker Hill, as it brought growth and prosperity to Bunker Hill, while Woodburn remained much in its original condition.  The bringing in of new industry, modern improvements in housing facilities and  an easy means of transportation and travel was the cause of our city growing to be one of the largest towns in the county during the first 50 years of progress.

 One hundred and forty-five years ago trains were not only the source of travel, but of news as well.  Who arrived and departed from the local depot made news, and the local editor made it a point to be at the depot at train time.  the train time of the St. Louis, Alton, and Terre Haute Railroad was listed in the first issue of the Gazette, January 19, 1866.

From the Gazette News October 12, 1900: A goodly number of people came to town last Monday evening in response to advertising that Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York, a Republican candidate for Vice President of the United Stated, would be in Bunker Hill that evening.  the largest number present at the depot was 450 to 500.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, September 20, 2012.

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