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Local History and Genealogy Blog

The Era of Railroads

The Archives received a new donation this week. A beautiful map depicting the railroad lines in Illinois as they existed in 1892. Officially tilted “Railroad map of Illinois, 1892 prepared under the direction of and presented by, John R. Wheeler, Isaac N. Phillips, and J.C. Willis, Railroad and Warehouse Commissioners” the map was presented as part of the Illinois Railroad and Warehouse Commission’s 21st annual report in 1891.

1892 Railroad Map Legend

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At UIUC, Before There Was "Unofficial", There Was...Halloween!

This article "Officials ponder putting hex on UI Halloween" was printed in the October 15, 1989 News-Gazette. In a pumpkin shell, the article states that the celebration of Halloween on campus started about 1975 "with crowds spilling into the streets and challenging police in impromptu drunken revelry. Police responded with riot gear and dogs."

Ban on UIUC Halloween?, News Gazette, October 15, 1989

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The Old Homer Park

It is always nice to visit local parks!  Homer Park (now park of Homer Lake Forest Preserve) was a popular 14-acre destination park located on the Salt Fork River during the first half of the twentieth century. The park was popular for parties, reunions, weddings, and July 4th celebrations. 

Homer Park Bridge, 1907

 Above is the Homer Park Pedestrian Bridge/Illinois Traction System Railroad Bridge, photographed in 1907, with onlookers observing a water chute rider. 

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Autumn Shopping from 1900


Sears Catalog

Feeling nostalgic while flipping through newspaper advertisements? Sick of online shopping? Want to reconnect with times-gone-by? Then check out the Archives copy of the Sears, Roebuck and Company: Consumers Guide, Fall 1900.This 1970 reprint of the original catalog gives a firsthand glimpse into life and products from 1900.  Some of the items on sale were “Acme Horse Fattening Powder”, “Princess Hair Restorer” and an entire department dedicated to headstones

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Grain Elevators - Skyscrapers of the Prairie

Grain elevators, still dominate the rural Midwest skyline although they are not as prevalent today as they were in the late 19th – early 20th centuries.

Deers Station Grain Elevator, 1987

Invented in 1842 by Joseph Dart and Robert Dunbar in Buffalo, New York, the grain elevator quickly migrated to the Midwest and the Plains where an expanding railroad made it possible to efficiently transport grain straight from the farmland.

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