Railroad History of Cropsy, Illinois

The center of the old town of Cropsey was, and is yet, about fourteen miles from the nearest railroad station, being about equidistant from Saybrook, on the south, and Fairbury, on the north. This of itself was enough. during the era of railroad-building and bond-voting, to make it of interest to railroad-builders and popular with voters to go into the bonding business. Several propositions were made and votes taken in this direction. None of these propositions were received favorably until the Decatur State-Line Railroad took form. This road was to run from Decatur, where it well connect with the Decatur & East St. Louis road, of which it was to be an extension. direct to Chicago, passing through Chatsworth. The road would have been, had it been built, an almost air-line route from St. Louis to Chicago-several miles shorter than the shortest line between those two cities. The Boodys, of the Toledo, Wabash & Western Railroad, which controlled the Decatur & East St. Louis line, were very anxious to build it, for it would give them a Chicago connection which they had been, and still have been, unable to get. The proposition really seemed the most feasible of the many railroad propositions then in existence. They were in business relations with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad, and were really dependent on that company for the money to build it. When the citizens of Cropsey were shown the magnificent future which such railroad facilities would give them, it is not to be wondered at that they were ready to get all the wealth which this would bring them, and all for just a single vote. It looked like a “big thing,” and there could be no doubt that the road would be built.

A special town meeting was held October 25, 1569, to vote for or against a proposition to donate $60,000 of bonds. This was the third meeting which had been held on the matter-the first two resulting adversely to town aid. At this meeting, the proposition was carried by the almost unanimous vote of 44 to 5. A proposition was also carried to donate $5,000 per mile and right of way to the same road. As the town was about eleven miles in length, from the northeast to the southwest corners-the direction the road would take-it was considered equivalent to the other proposition.

January 10, 1870, by a vote of 46 to 31; it was voted to give $15,000 to the D. & St. L. R. R., provided its line touched the town and a station was placed there. The road had the option, of course, of these different proposals. The destruction of millions of dollars of the Rock Island company’s property, by the Chicago fire, followed before it had recovered from the loss by the ” Granger excitement,” and general depression of railroad interests alone saved the township from being as heavily in debt as any other in McLean County.

A railroad is now contemplated, called the Clinton, Bloomington & Northeastern, which is proposed as an extension to the Chatsworth Branch of the Illinois Central. It is projected by the farmers owning land along the line, and is energetically pressed by Mr. D. B. Stuart, a large land-owner in Cropsey and Anchor, H. L. Terpenning and J. T. Tanner, the Supervisors, and other energetic men. The scheme seems a feasible cue, and the road is likely to be built without running the town in debt.


Le Baron, William., Jr. & Co. The History of McLean County, Illinois: portraits of early settlers and prominent men. Chicago. W. Le Baron, Jr., 1879.

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