Details of the Development
of the
Chicago-Rock Island Railroad

On March 1, 1854, the Rock Island Advertiser reprinted an article from the Chicago Democratic Press.

Chicago and Rock Island Railroad--Its Commencement, Progress and Completion

On Wednesday last, the 22nd inst., that event looked forward to for years with so much interest by our citizens--the connection of the Mississippi with Lake Michigan, by a continuous line of Railroad--was consummated. The honor of arriving first at this important goal belongs to the Chicago and Rock Island road--an honor, by the way well worthy the herculean efforts which have been made to achieve it. In February, 1851, the legislature chartered the company--in October of the same yar the conract for its construction and equipment was taken--in April, 1852, the first estimate for work upon it was paid--and in Feb. 1854--three years from its charter, and twenty-two months after ground had been broken upon it--the work is completed and cars running daily its entire length--one hundred and eighty-one miles! This is certainly a proud monument to all the parties who have been instrumental in pushing the work forward to completion, and especially so to those sagacious and energetic men who have had it in special charge--Messrs. Sheffield and Farnam. In view of an event fraught with so much interest to our city as the completion of this road, we have thought a brief history of it might not prove uninteresting to many of our readers.

In October 1851 the company were so fortunate as to close a highly favorable contract with Messrs. Sheffield and Farnam for the construction and equipment of the entire road. By the terms of the contract the road was to be completed, equipped and placed into the hands of the company by the last day of January, 1856, for which the contractors were to receive the suum of $3,987.683, as follows:

$500,000 in cash
$1,487,683 in capital stock
$2,000,000 in mortgage and convertible bonds
bearing seven percent interest upon such bonds as they might sell until the delivery of the road to the company. Subsequently, and after a portion of the road had been in operation, it was found that the rolling stock provided for in the contract would not be sufficient to accommodate the business of the road. Another contract was therefore entered into with the same firm to supply the deficiency, and also to fence the road, which, together with right of way and interest on stock up to the time of completion and delivery of road, swells its actual cost to about $4,750,000. Immediately upon closing the contract for building the road, Messrs. S. and F. purchased all the rails necessary for its completion, having conditionally negotiated for the same prior to undertaking the work. This was a most fortunate stroke on the part of those gentlemen, as subsequently the rate of iron advanced to a price almost double that which they paid. It is now conceded by those familiar with the subject that at the present rates of iron and wages, the road could not be constructed and equipped for a sum less than one million dollars advance upon the contract price. The iron used in the construction of this road is the T Rail, weighing 59 pounds to the yard. The following is a list of the Sub-Contractors, all of whom have manifested a commendable energy in prosecuting to completion their respective undertakings:

Gardener & Goss...14 miles
Joel A. Matteson...35 miles
Jeremiah Crotty...25 miles
Warner & Sherwin...37 miles
Whitman & Boyle...17 miles
George Armour...16 miles
Michael Killela...8 miles
Clark & Mann...2 miles
A. T. Groendycke...10 miles
B. F. Carmichael...13 miles
Horace Holmes...4 miles

Gardener & Goss...184 miles

J. Warner & Co.
Stone & Boomer

The remainder of the article is incomplete, but it does list the distance from Chicago to various cities along the route:

Joliet...40 miles
Morris...61 miles
Ottawa...83 miles
La Salle...98 miles
Peru...99 miles
Tiskillwa...122 miles
Sheffield...136 miles
Geneseo...158 miles
Rock Island...181 miles