Looking back at railroads — a bit of Rockford’s history
By Brian Landis
Rockford’s Illinois Central Railroad depot was built in the 1880s and torn down in 1958 to make room for a new modern depot.
As for trying to find a depot in Rockford today, not too many remain out of the local train stations. Only one stands today on Seventh Street, the old CNW Railway depot. There were eight train depots in Rockford at one time.
The Illinois Centaral Railroad ran three passenger trains from Chicago to Iowa; The Land O’ Corn, a Streamliner, from Chicago to Sioux City; the Hawkeye, from Chicago to Dubuque and back; and the Blackhawk, from Chicago to Dubuque and back. The Blackhawk was the last passenger train to run. It was an Amtrak train.
Rockford Area Railroads by Michael Schafer and Brian Landis states: “Rockford got its Valentine’s Day present on Feb. 14, 1974, when scheduled rail service resumed over the Illinois Central Gulf’s former route between Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa. On that day, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Amtrak launched the Blackhawk, running on a schedule not unlike that of the late lamented Illinois Central Land O’ Corn.”
Plans are to bring back trains to Rockford and to build a new depot on South Main Street. The old Illinois Central depot stood at 805 S. Main St. next to the IC freight house. The freight house caught on fire several years ago and was torn down in 2002. The depot was torn down in April 2011.
From the Dec. 12-18, 2012, issue
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