Topeka, Kansas, September 18, 1886
W. B. Strong, Esq.,
In report which I mailed to you on the 16th instant, covering the line between Kansas City and Chicago I did not go into a detailed description of several routes, thinking that you would prefer to have the information sent separate from such report, amd furthermore, I did not have time to prepare it to forward to you with that report. Believing, however, that you would like something of this kind, I have, after reading Mr. Booker's report to me which I required of him (accompanying his notes) concluded to give you a copy of his report, which I think covers many points of interest, and I think his descriptions are very good and his conclusions are well drawn, especially I wish to call your attention to his opinion as to Streator route, which has been formed independent of any suggestions from me on the subject.
A. A. Robinson
Topeka, Kansas, September 18, 1886
A.A. Robinson, Esq.,
2nd V.P. & Chief Engr.,
Herewith I beg to submit a report on the various routes surveyed between Kansas City and Chicago, giving in a general way a description of the most important work encountered on each line together with a synopsis of the resources of the country passed through, both as regards quantity, quality and location of building material, as well as information gathered in respect to the business interests likely to yield local traffic to a railroad.
The general instructions were to use over the entire distance of each of the lines a maximum grade of 42.24 ft. to the mile, to be compensated on curves and 6 deg. as the maximum rate of curvature. This has been done, and the estimates are based accordingly.
Two lines were surveyed in Missouri and Iowa, which will be designated as in the accompanying preliminary estimates, viz:
Northern Route, passing via Ft. Madison, Iowa.
Southern Route, coinciding with Northern Route from Kansas City east for a distance of about 90 miles, thence deflecting more easterly to a crossing of the Mississippi River at Keokuk, Iowa.
Owing to the decided advantages presented by the Northern Route, both in respect to a lesser cost of construction and also a saving in distance over the Southern Route, I will give a description of the former only, especially as in view of their general proximity, any information regarding the country passed through by the one will apply equally well to the other.
The surveyed line leaves the eastern terminus of the Kansas City Belt Line Ry at a point 8.3 miles from the Union depot thence follows the south bank of the Missouri River for 19 miles, encountering occasional heavy work, of which a considerable percent is solid rock excavation.
The crossing of the river is made near the town of Sibley on a bridge consisting, as estimated, of five fixed spans of 300 ft. each, and one draw span of 370 ft. making the total length of the bridge 1870 ft.
From this point the line follows the valley of the river for 35.5 miles, with moderate work, consisting almost entirely of embankment, and long tangents to the crossing of McGill Creek in Trotter Township of Carroll County, here the line swings more to the north for better direction and the heavy work commences, continuing thus for 23 miles to the crossing of Grand River on the county line between Carroll and Chariton Counties, thence it is more moderate for 26 miles to the crossing of the Hannibal & St. Joseph RR. in Linn County, near the town of Bucklin. From this point to Ft. Madison the country is a very difficult one for a railroad, as numerous creeks and streams of greater or less size and lying quite close to each other must be crossed at about right angles to their general course, and with no available draws to support down to them and out, unless a considerable loss in distance and increased curvature is incurred. The result is a succession of deep cuts and high fills and a free use of curvature and maximum grade. With but few exceptions this part of the line will consist of very heavy work, in some cases even excessive.
From the examination thus far very little rock will be encountered on the line between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. But another difficulty presents itself through the Charitan River country in Linn County and Macon County in the shape of a material consisting of joint clay which hardens in dry weather, but when wet, slakes and runs like dough. The Han. & St. Jo. RR have had considerable trouble in this respect and seems not yet to have satisfactorily disposed of the difficulty. They resort to the means of protecting their track and ditches by rows of piles backed with heavy timbers and then remove the material by train as it slides down and threatens to encroach over their device for retaining walls. The result is unsightly and the relief but temporary.
According to the instructions the plan has been pursued of locating with a view of passing over or under all railroads crossed, whenever possible and even at considerble increased expense.
From Kansas City to Ft. Madison 13 railroads in all were crossed, seven at grade and the remaining six either overhead or underneath.
Owing to the general scarcity of rock, as previously mentioned, most of the bridging has been estimated as of wood, except in such few localities where good stone appeared to be available, and no allowance has been made for ballasting the track. Outside of the Missouri River bridge no iron structures of more than one span are used except at Grand River, which requires 3 spans of 150 ft. each, Fox River in Clark County, a high crossing requiring 1050 ft. of iron viaduct 70 ft high in the deepest place and the Des Moines River, still another high crossing, over which a deck bridge 900 ft in length has been estimated.
The timber along the line from point of leaving the Missouri River to the Des Moines is principally oak, with some walnut. It is found mainly along the various streams crossed, such as the Grand, Charitan, the various forks of the Fabius and the Wyconda Rivers. The aggregate quantity is considerable and the quality fair. Oak ties are being delivered at points as far as 8 to 10 miles from stumps at 40 cents and less a piece. Large quantities of them are continually being shipped away.
Coal is found along the bluffs of the Missouri River near the town of Camden and some small shafts are in operation.
No towns of any size or importance are reached between Kansas City and Ft. Madison. Camden, Lexington Junction and Hardin along the Missouri valley are small places with populations ranging from 100 to 300. They do only a small business as shipping points for the surrounding country. Kahoka in Clark County is somewhat larger and more thriving; it is surrounded by an excellent farming country and gives quite a little business to the Miss. Ia. & Neb. RR. which passes through it. Ft. Madison with a population of from 7,000 to 8,000 possessed quite a number and variety of manufacturing interests, large lumber yards, agricultural implement works and an extensive chair manufacturing works, which latter ships all the goods to Texas. The Iowa State Penitentiary is also located here. It is claimed that a daily shipment of from 30 to 35 cars originates at this point.
Although Keokuk, which is passed through on the Southern Route, 11 miles farther down the river, claims a population of 12,000, it does not appear to do a greater shipping business than Ft. Madison, while it is better provided with railroad facilities. The two places may be said to be of equal importance in that respect.
In general, the feeling of both farmers and inhabitants of towns along the line is very favorable to the enterprise, as they realize the importance and value of being located on a through line btween such terminal points in Kansas City and Chicago.
Stock raising is already an extensive industry along the entire line, and would be still further increased by better shipping facilities, while large portions of the land are in an excellent state of cultivation. Improved farms are worth from $25.00 to $40.00 per acre, except as they lie nearer the larger towns when their value is considerably increased in proportion to their proximity to the business centers.
LINES IN ILLINOIS
In Illinois five different routes were examined by Preliminary lines which will be designated and dealt with in the following order, according to which they have been treated to in the accompanying estimates:
Northern Route, from Ft. Madison, via Galesburg and North Aurora to a connection with the Wisconsin Central RR near Chicago.
Southern Route, from Keokuk, via Henry and Ottawa to the same connection with the Wisconsin Central RR. As the Missouri portion of this route was not especially considered, only those parts of the line in Illinois will be treated which form links in the routes designated below:
Ft. Madison and Henry Route coincident with Northern Route from Kansas City east to a point about 25.5 miles east of Ft. Madison thence deflects to a due east and west course and joins the Southern Route near the crossing of Big Nigger Creek in Berwick Township of Warren County, thence over the Southern Route, via Henry and Ottawa to the connection with the Wisconsin Central RR at Chicago; I neglected to mention above that this connection with the W. C. RR is made on both Northern and Southern Routes at a point 8.8 miles west of their proposed depot at Harrison Street.
Peoria Route coincident with Southern Route from Kansas City to a point 10 miles east of Keokuk whence it deflects more easterly to a connection with the Toledo, Peoria & Western RR at Peoria.
Streator Route coincident with Southern Route from Kansas City to Henry, Illinois, whence it deflects in a more easterly direction to a connection with the Chicago & St. Louis R'y at Streator in La Salle County, Illinois. An estimate has also been made of this route as coincident with the Ft. Madison and Henry line from Kansas City to Henry and thence to Streator.
Northern Route in Illinois
The Mississippi River is crossed at Ft. Madison on a bridge consisting, as estimated, of six fixed spans of 258 ft. each and one draw span of 100 ft. over each side channel. Total length of bridge 3,358 ft.
From the crossing the line follows up the valley of the river with moderate work, light grades and long tangents for a distance of 16.5 miles to an overhead crossing of the Carthage branch of the CB&Q RR at Iowa Junction.
Leaving the Mississippi River valley at this point a supported grade of 42.24 ft. to the mile is used for 2 miles, which takes it with some heavy work up and on to the site of the table land between Ellison and Henry Creeks.
From this point, with the exception of the crossing of Ellison Creek near the eastern line of Henderson County, which requires 300 lineal feet of iron viaduct 50 ft. in length, on through the counties of Warren and Knox the work continues very moderate, the grades generally light and the alignment good.
In Henry County the crossings of Edwards River and Round Grove and Mud Creeks occasion heavy work and a free use of the maximum grade for a distance of 12 miles.
Through Bureau County, especially in the vicinity of the town of Mineral a number of swamps are crossed, which, however are generally small in extent. Only moderate work is met with throughout this county, although occasional stretches of maximum grade have been resorted to in order to preserve the general direction without loss of distance and increase of curvature, such as would be incurred by swinging around the head of some of the draws crossed.
Throughout Lee and DeKalb Counties to the crossing of the Fox River in Kane County the profile indicates light work with only one or two exceptions for short distances, while the alignment abounds in long tangents and the maximum grade is used in but few places.
The crossing of Fox River near the town of North Aurora entails the most expensive piece of construction between the east end of the Mississippi River bridge at Ft. Madison and the terminus at Chicago.
The river is deep cut below the surface of the surrounding country and by reason of the lack of draws or creeks of adequate length for a support and which lead into and out of the river in good direction, a high crossing is rendered necessary in any case but it becomes all the more unavoidable from the necessity of crossing the two railroads which pass along the banks of the stream, the Turner branch of the CB&Q on the east and the Aurora branch of the C&NW on the west side. To cross them both at grade would be out of the question, owing to their difference in elevation and moreover very objectionable, consequently the bridge was kept sufficiently high and of adequate length to cross both the river and the two roads, the latter overhead, and consists as estimated of 4 deck spans of 150 ft. each, 1 of 80 ft. and 589 ft. of iron viaduct of an extreme height of 50 ft., making the total length of bridge 1,269 ft. The stream is cut into the limestone which underlies this section of the country, and no serious difficulty will be experienced in the matter of footings.
From this crossing east 1-1/2 miles of maximum grade and moderately heavy work is required to ascend to the prairie beyond, whence moderate work with a somewhat free use of the maximum grade is met with through DuPage County, where the various branches of the DuPage River are crossed.
Through Cook County to the connection with the W.C. R'y in section 17 of Cicero Township the work is very light with a large percentage of level grade and long tangents.
In all, 16 railroads were crossed by the survey between Ft. Madison and the connection with the Wisconsin Central. Of these 8 were passed at grade and the remainder were crossed overhead. It is possible that a careful location may eliminate two more of the objectionable grade crossings while some of the heavy work on the independent ones may be reduced.
In general terms the country through which the survey passes is very fine agricultural land in a high state of cultivation. There are not more than four or five miles of timbered land in the entire distance. For a few miles in the north part of Bureau County, there is a range of sand hills where the soil is not as productive as in other places, while a few of the gravel hills in Kane County are covered with only a few inches of soil.
There are some swamps near Mineral, as previously mentioned, and a few smaller ones elsewhere but they only need draining to be made available for agricultural purposes. In the vicinity of and along Green River in the northwestern portion of Bureau and through Lee Counties these swamps are found in great abundance and are of much larger extent.
Land along the Mississippi Valley is worth from $35.00 to $50.00 per acre in farms but increases rapidly in value on the up-lands where it ranges all the way from $55.00 to $200.00 per acre, the latter price prevailing through Cook County and $100.00 to $150.00 being asked in the vicinity of such towns as Galesburg.
Galesburg is by far the most important town passed on the survey. With a population of 12,000 and a variety of business and manufacturing interests it becomes a desirable point for any railroad to reach. At present all the roads entering there are controlled by the CB&Q RR who have made it a division point, where they disburse from $60,000.00 to $70,000.00 each month in payrolls. The inhabitants are anxious for a competing line and if properly handled could be made to do considerable toward furthering the enterprise in the shape of donating right of way and station grounds through the town and in the vicinity.
The towns in the Mississippi Valley, such as Pontoosue, Dallas and Lomax, containing populations from 200 to 800, are of no particular importance.
Ellison, Larchland and Phelps, lying south-east of Galesburg are small places each and serve as trading points for the surrounding country.
North and east of Galesburg we pass through or near such towns as Bishop Hill, Mineral, Ohio, Sublette and Paw Paw, ranging in population from 250 to 800 and nearly all of them thriving and busy places, some even quite enterprising. Outside of their country trade the only business usually represented is that of the manufacture of tiles.
On Fox River the line passes near the Aurora Smelting and Refining works which are reported by their employes as receiving daily 13 to 14 cars of bullion (lead and silver) on which freight of $100.00 per car is paid. Besides this, coal, limestone and other materials are received in considerable quantities. It is claimed that their freight bills amount to about $700,000.00 per year, while they propose to enlarge their works so as to reduce the bullion from the ore direct which would entail about 3 times that of their present amount of freight.
In DeKalb, Kane and DuPage Counties great attention is paid to the production of grain, and improved stock. Cows are kept in large numbers and the products of the dairy form a large part of the income of many farmers. Every neighborhood has its cheese factory or creamery. In the vicinity of the railroads a considerable quantity of milk is shipped to Chicago and any new railroads constructed would open up the same business in other communities.
In Cook County considerable attention is paid to horticulture, the products of the garden finding ready market in Chicago and her many suburbs.
Generally speaking the farmers and inhabitants of towns along the line are favorably inclined to any enterprise which will furnish them competition in railroad rates. Yet, here as in fact on all the routes, those owners through whose property the road runs, are hardly as appreciative of the benefits to be derived from a new railroad as their neighbors immediately adjacent to and outside of the right of way.
Bituminous coal in large quantities underlies the country along the line from Ontario Township in Kane County to Mineral in Bureau County. It is being worked for local use in several places and is said to be from 36" to 48" in thickness. Good stone for bridge and culvert masonry may be found near Niota in Hancock County, and some of fair quality about 1-1/2 miles south of the line at a point at a point about 23-1/2 miles east of Ft. Madison. Within 500 ft. of the crossing of Ellison Creek in Henderson County some more stone of questionable quality, however, may be found, after which none may be had unless by train from Gladstone on the CB&Q RR in Henderson County, until Fox River is reached in Kane County.
Along this stream there is an abundance of limestone suitable for heavy work, bridge and box culvert masonry. There appears to be some questions as to its durability, although it is extensively used by the railroads in this vicinity and for local building purposes.
Again along Salt Creek and in a few other localities in Kane County stone may be had in lesser quantity.
At Niota besides the excellent quarry mentioned there is said to exist an extensive bed of excellent gravel suitable for ballast. As yet it has not been worked, being away from any railroad and on the opposite side of the Mississippi from Ft. Madison, so that no reliable data exist as to the quantity available.
From this point to the gravel hills in DeKalb County no suitable ballast material has been found along the line. Through the western portion of the latter county, soon after crossing the branch of the C&NW R'y, deposits of clear washed gravel are encountered and continue in great abundance to the Fox River in Kane County. From this point to the Des Plaines River in Cook County, gravel is found in some localities, but is not so easily obtained, generally being covered with several feet of soil.
Ft. Madison & Henry Route in Illinois
This line, as before stated, leaves the Northern Route at a point about 23-1/2 miles east of Ft. Madison, thence follows an almost due east course for 20 miles, with moderate work and easy grades to a junction with the Southern Route near the crossing of Big Nigger Creek in Berwick Township of Warren County. The crossings of Ellison and Big Nigger Creeks are the only pieces of heavy work encountered. From this latter junction east, for a distance of 12 miles to Brush Creek in Indiana Township of Knox County, the work is moderate but the curvature is considerable, occasioned by making use of draws and creeks leading in the right direction.
Thence the work becomes heavy, occasionally very heavy, for 12-1/2 miles across Brush, Pig, Hau and Red Chalk Creeks to Spoon River in Chestnut Township of Knox County and a great deal of curvature, together with a free use of the maximum grade is entailed.
At the end of the following 5 miles, of more moderate work and a considerable use of the maximum grade, the uplands are reached near the town of Eugene in the Township of Truro.
Thence for a distance of 32 miles to the divide between Senachwine Creek and the Illinois River, with the exception of 2 miles near Princeville in Peoria County, the work is generally very light and but little curvature is used.
The descent to the Illinois River occasions very heavy work for six miles and a high crossing of Coal Hollow, which latter requires 690 ft. of iron viaduct 90 ft. high in the deepest place.
The following four miles to the town of Henry the work becomes more moderate.
The crossing of the Illinois River at this point is expensive by reason of the high bluff on the west side, and Saw Mill Lake on the east. It consists as estimated of two fixed spans of 200 ft. each and one draw span of 360 ft. and in addition 2,070 ft. of iron viaduct of an average height of 30 ft. Total length of bridge 2,830 ft.
After leaving the Illinois River the line follows up Clear Creek for nine miles with occasional heavy work and a considerable amount of maximum grade, to the uplands near Palatine on the county line between Putnam and La Salle Counties.
Thence more moderate work is encountered until in the vicinity of Vermillion River, where it becomes heavy and finally culminates in the exceedingly high crossing of this stream, which is made over iron viaduct 960 ft. in length and 120 ft. high in the deepest place and in addition a 200 ft. deck truss across the stream proper. Total length of bridge 1,160 ft.
The following 8-1/2 miles are somewhat heavy when another high crossing is reached, this time over Covel Creek. It requires 960 ft. of iron viaduct 135 ft. high in the deepest place. One and one half miles beyond Covel Creek begins the descent to a second crossing of the Illinois River near Ottawa, occasioning three miles of supported grade and very heavy work.
The bridge over the Illinois at Ottawa as estimated, consists of two spans of 200 ft. each and three of 150 ft. each. Total length of bridge 850 ft. The Illinois and Michigan Canal is also crossed here and requires a draw span of 150 ft.
After leaving the Illinois River the line supports up on to the table land in a distance of 6-1/2 miles of moderate work with occasional heavier stretches.
This same character of work, only with no curvature, tha alignment being entirely tangent and lighter grades, continues for 13 miles to the town of Lisbon in Kendall County.
Thence the next 25 miles show generally light work, little curvature and easy grades, the line passing near Plattville in Kendall County, and through Plainfield in Will County.
On the following 12 miles to Hinsdale in DuPage County, a free use of the maximum grade is resorted to, and heavier work encountered.
At Hinsdale an iron viaduct 380 ft. in length with an 80 ft. girder is required to cross over Railroad St., Maple Ave., and the CB&Q RR, 2000 ft. beyond is encountered an embankment, 3000 ft. long and 33 ft. high in the deepest place.
The following 7-1/2 miles to the connection with the W.C. R'y consists of very light work, easy grades and little curvature. Over that portion of this route above described, only preliminary lines have been run, with the exception of that part lying between the crossing of Spoon River and the town of Henry. In consequence the subsequent location may be relied on to lessen the work to a greater or lesser degree, while some saving in distance may possibly be effected. On the 7 miles immediately east of the crossing of the Illinois River at Ottawa 3 raises of grade have been used, as the tangent on the ground lies over the highest portion of the ridge. Lower ground can be found both to the north and south to make avail of which will require but a slight increase in distance and will give work as indicated on present profile with its breaks in grade line.
An attempt will be made to avoid the high crossing of Covel Creek by supporting down down a draw to a crossing of the Illinois River below the mouth of the river above mentioned. Thence the proposed line would pass through Ottawa where it was learned that the city would donate any unoccupied street to a strong corporation and crossing Fox River, support up and along the bluffs and avoiding the high point previously mentioned, run to a connection with the present line near Lisbon.
Considerable of the heavy work shown on present line between Plainfield and Chicago can be avoided by the use of a little additional curvature, while a cheaper over-crossing of the CB&Q RR can be obtained at Stough, about one mile west of Hinsdale.
From the point of leaving the Northern Route to the W.C. connection at Chicago 12 railroads were crossed of which six were estimated as at grade and the remaining six as being passed either overhead or underneath.
The line runs for nearly the entire distance through a rich and highly cultivated farming country. Land being held at from $60.00 to $70.00 per acre for the best farms and from $25.00 to $30.00 per acre for the unbroken portions. These latter will be found mainly along the larger streams which are generally deep cut below the surface of the surrounding country. The above prices are increased in the proximity of towns and as on the Northern Route, rise as high as $200.00 per acre in Cook County.
Between the Mississippi River and the Illinois at Ottawa a large amount of fine stock is raised which has to be driven for considerable distances to the nearest present shipping points.
The towns passed through or near to, such as Roseville in Warren County, Princeville and Monica in Peoria County, and Lawn Ridge, Marshall County, are thriving places with populations of from 100 to 1000.
Henry on the Illinois River is an enterprising town of 2500 inhabitants and possesses quite important wagon roads, works, windmill manufacturing, flour mills etc. while it contains a number of stores which would do credit to any place. A wide scope of rich farming country is tributary to it and combines to make it quite an important business point.
Between the two crossings of the Illinois River the line passes near the towns of Palatine, Lowell, and Tonica, which range in population from 200 to 500.
The raising of thorough bred stock is an important industry through this section and a great deal is shipped, notwithstanding the disadvantage of being from 10 to 15 miles from any railroad.
Along the Vermillion River are to be found out-crops of a fair quality of coal. The beds of the so-called Streator coal probably extend as far north as the Illinois River, but whether the quality is as good as it is farther south is a matter of speculation, as it is not mined to any great extent in the northern localities owing to a lack of shipping facilities.
The town of Ottawa with a population of about 8,000 to 10,000 and its extensive tile and glass works is the most important town reached on this route east of Ft. Madison. It already, however, has two railroads to Chicago and hence but little of its business could be expected for this line unless it can be run nearer to town, as may be found possible on the proposed change from Covel Creek, which was mentioned elsewhere.
From Ottawa to Chicago the survey bisects the wide strip of country lying between the CB&Q on the northwest and the CRI&P on the southeast, which is unprovided with any railroad leading direct to Chicago. The towns of Lisbon, Plattville and Plainfield range in population from 200 to 1000. They are thriving little places and all anxious for a road to the "Metropolis".
In general it may be said of this Route that it will undoubtedly develop an extensive local traffic, as it passes through an exceptionally fine country as a rule, while it does not labor under the disadvantage, as on the Northern Route, of having to parallel a rival road only a comparatively short distance away.
Timber for construction purposes is very scarce along this line and nowhere in sufficient quantity to deserve special mention.
A fair quality of stone can be had on Spoon River; at the crossing of Senachwine Creek in Marshall County there are large deposits of a fine quality of limestone which extend from the line down stream for over a quarter of a mile. The ledges are from 6" to 18" thick, and may be easily quarried.
Rock is abundant on the Vermillion River, but judging by the appearance of the exposed ledges, is not of very good quality.
About 1-1/2 miles from Plainfield exists a quarry which will furnish a good but not superior quality of limestone. The country in this vicinity is said to be underlaid with a vast bed of limestone, but considerable stripping is required to reach it.
Along the line immediately east of Spoon River there are numerous deposits of gravel of excellent quality and suitable for ballast.
On the bottoms of Crow Creek in the vicinity of Henry and again at the west end of the Illinois River crossing, a mile or two beyond, an abundance of gravel is also found.
Again near Plainfield large beds of the same material are encountered, but here it would be difficult to reach owing to the level surface of the country and the necessity of stripping off about 3 ft. of top soil.
Some fine gravel pits are found near the line at La Grange on the CB&Q RR.
A number of circumstances conspire to make it of little use to give any particular description of this Route. Its many disadvantages outweigh any probability of the favorable consideration of such line in case construction were determined upon.
1st. The Southern Route, via Keokuk would have to be used through Missouri and Iowa.
2nd. It traverses in Illinois a country less fertile and rich than that along any of the more northern routes, while it runs in many places and for long distances parallel to the TP&W RR. In short it lies in the territory tributary to this railroad for nearly its entire length.
3rd. It involves the longest distance between the terminal points of Chicago and Kansas City.
Only that portion of this Route which lies between the point of leaving the Southern Route near Henry and the connection with the C & St. L at Streator requires description, as the remainder consists of portions of lines previously considered.
The crossing of the Illinois River is made on the southern limits of Henry and proves a better location for a bridge than the one above on the Southern Route. Yet here also a lake is found on the east side of the river, but it is neither as deep as Saw Mill Lake nor of such a width; in consequence a wooden trestle has been estimated across it.
The iron portion of the bridge consists of two fixed spans of 170 ft. each and one draw span of 360 ft.
From this crossing the line follows up Sandy Creek for a distance of seven miles, with generally moderate work and an occasional use of the maximum grade, together with considerable curvature.
The following 3-1/3 miles to the uplands are heavy and abound in the use of maximum grades with a large amount of curvature.
A few additional curves are used on the next two miles, thence practically a 16 mile tangent was run to the crossing of the Vermillion River near Streator. Over this entire distance generally light work prevails, while the undulating grade was caused in great part by the desirability of avoiding long shallow cuts which the use of continuous level stretches of road would entail.
The crossing of the Vermillion River is much less formidable than on the Southern Route, nearer its mouth. It requires one deck truss of 200 ft. span and 870 ft. of wooden trestle approach.
Between Henry and Streator two railroads are crossed, both of which are estimated as being passed over.
The country along and adjacent to the line is the finest in Illinois. It is, with the exception of the bluffs of the Illinois River, all highly cultivated and very productive. Large shipments of stock and grain would be commanded by the road, and in addition, there is another factor of business in the shape of the coal which exists abundantly at a depth of from 250 to 300 ft. It is hardly necessary to speak of the quality of the so-called Streator coal in this section as its well-known reputation places it at the head of any found elsewhere throughout the state.
Land is worth all the way from $20.00 to $150.00 per acre, the price of from $75.00 to $95.00 per acre generally prevailing on the uplands while in the vicinity of Streator the value rapidly rises.
The towns through or near to which the line passes are small and of no special importance, with the exception of Magnolia in Putnam County, a rich little place with a population of 500, which ships a good deal of grain and stock. The line passes one mile to the south of it.
Streator with a population of 10,000 is a flourishing town, in which the evidences of many buildings in process of erection promise greatly for its future as well as present prosperity.
Building material is scarce along this portion of the line. Of timber and stone there appears to be none, while gravel for ballast is found only along the Illinois River near Henry with possibly some near the mouth of Sandy Creek.
In the accompanying estimates I have endeavored to provide for every contingency and believe that they will generally be found ample as to quantity and price. Yet I wish to draw your attention to a few points concerning them in which they may prove insufficiently provided for or where certain items have been purposely omitted.
1. The question of adjustment of grades along the line in the Missouri valley with reference to safety from high water is a very important one. In locating this portion of the line all information available regarding high water marks was procured from the inhabitants of that section, as indeed, is done everywhere and the grade line as laid is accordingly safe.
There are, however, well-authenticated records of two high water floods, the one of 1844 and that of 1881. The grade along the south bank of the river to Sibley is sufficiently high everywhere to provide for the latter, but it is probably too low in places along the line in the valley east and north of the crossing. At a rough estimate an addition of $40,000.00 to the cost of the latter portion would be needed to place its grade line to a safe height in the event of a flood like that of 1881.
If, however, the high water mark of 1844 is used as a standard then to the line long the south bank should be added the sum of $30,000.00 while that portion east of the crossing would have to be thrown into the bluffs at the probable expense of from 3 to 5 miles additional distance.
2. No provisions were made on the Southern Route for the use of the bridge across the Mississippi River at Keokuk. In case this structure is purchased, as would be the best plan, the estimates over this route should be increased by $646,475.00, the amount of estimated cost of bridge at Ft. Madison.
5. No estimate has been made for the use of the Belt Line R'y at Kansas City, the entranse into Chicago over the W C R'y, the purchase or use of either the section of the T P & W between Peoria and Streator Junction or the C & St. L R'y, nor for the terminal yards at Chicago.
An examination of the estimates, together with a consideration
of the resources of the country along the different routes surveyed,
taken in connection with the existing railroad facilities would
lead to the following conclusions in instituting a comparison
between the various lines in Illinois.
1. The Northern Route in Illinois evidently proves cheaper in point of construction and shorter in the matter of distance than the lines farther to the south and which have been estimated through to Chicago, but unfortunately this Route virtually parallels the CB&Q RR for the greater part of the distance.
2. On the other hand the Routes farther to the south have the advantage over the Northern one of passing through a country less well provided for with railroad facilities and generally more productive. In addition they tap that portion of the state which contains the fields of coal having the highest reputation in point of excellence.
A line which would combine those portions of the surveyed routes which are cheapest to construct, shortest in mileage and withal offer the best inducements in the matter of local traffic, is evidently the one deserving the most consideration.
In my judgment this Route would be as follows - Using the most advantageous line through Missouri viz: From Kansas City to Ft. Madison over the Northern Route, thence to Henry, Illinois over the Ft. Madison and Henry Route, thence to a connection with the C & St. L R'y at Streator, this latter railway being used on through to Chicago.
In the event construction is decided upon, I would most earnestly recommend that time be taken before beginning the work, to secure the right of way, especially at all important points and through the small towns.A little time judiciously spent in working up this matter will make a great reduction in expense, which in any event will be large owing to the high value of the land passed through.
(Signed) B. F. Booker
Top ka, Kansas,