Friday, February 5, 2016

February 5, 1998 -- Canadian National Announces Intent to Purchase I. C.

February 5, 1998 -- The Canadian National Railroad Co. announces that it is in negotiations to acquire the Illinois Central Railroad, the "Main Line of Mid-America," a railroad that began in 1849 when Senator Stephen Douglas secured a federal land grant for the start-up, the first such grant ever awarded to a railroad. Douglas was also instrumental in a deal that allowed the I. C. to purchase a 200-foot right of way through the South Side for $21, 310. Later, the line built a trestle in the lake opposite the center of the city that carried trains to a freight yard on the river. The fill that was over the years placed between that trestle and the edge of the city is now Grant Park. Mark Twain worked as a steamboat pilot on an Illinois Central boat that connected the railroad to the south. A young engineer named John Luther "Casey" Jones began his career operating trains that carried passengers form the Loop to the 1893 fair in Hyde Park. With Canadian National's announcement a love-hate relationship between Chicago and the Illinois Central that had lasted for close to 150 years was nearly at an end.

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