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Archive of: Transportation

Randolph from On High Undated Aerial

Aerial view of Randolph railway, 1938.

entral Illinois is dotted with the tiniest of communities that owe their existence to the railroad boom of the nineteenth century. Many of these places featured a pocket-sized train station, grain elevator, livestock pens, and a small cluster of residential and commercial buildings.
One such railroad stop or “station” was Randolph, situated roughly halfway between Bloomington and Heyworth.

‘Union’ Depot, December 1979 Bloomington’s West Side

Amtrak Depot, 1979.

Opened in 1913, Union Depot was located just south of West Washington Street on the west side of the Chicago & Alton Railroad tracks. In 1979, this line was used by Amtrak for passenger service but owned by Illinois Central Gulf Railroad. Today this mainline is still used by Amtrak but the owner is Union Pacific Railroad. Union Depot’s interior is seen here in December 1979 after completion of the first phase of a $382,000 renovation project.

ISSCS Bus, School Street, Normal Late May 1958

Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's School bus, 1958.

From the end of the Civil War to the 1970s, Normal was home to a state children’s home known as the Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s School (ISSCS). These kids attended University High at what was then called Illinois State Normal University. The drop-off / pickup stop for ISSCS students was School Street, just north of North Street, near the Fell Gates and today’s ISU Planetarium.

“A City Unto Itself” Chicago & Alton RR Shops

Aerial view of Chicago & Alton Railroad shops, undated.

This undated aerial photograph, looking northwest, gives one a sense of the impressive size of the sprawling Chicago & Alton Railroad Shops on Bloomington’s west side. From the years after the Civil War to the Great Depression, the C&A was the largest employer in the Twin Cities. At this complex upwards of 2,000 or more men were involved in the maintenance and repair of steam locomotives and rolling stock.

Death on the Mother Road Rural Logan County, September 1935

Bus accident, 1935.

On Sunday, September 22, 1935, one person was killed just before 6:00 a.m. when a southbound Greyhound bus collided with a coupe on U.S. Route 66 several miles south of Lincoln.

Union Bus Station, 1956 523 N. East Street, Bloomington

Bloomington bus station, 1956.

Located at the northeast corner of East and Douglas streets on the north end of downtown, this station opened on April 1, 1939. The one-story tan brick structure, built in the Streamline Moderne-style popular at the time, included waiting rooms, ticket office, and restrooms. By 1956, the date of this photograph, the station served Greyhound Bus Lines, Illini Coach Co., Peoria Rockford Coach Line, and the local Yellow Cab Co. There was also a lunch counter restaurant to grab a bite to eat.

Bloomington Municipal Airport June 20, 1941

Aerial view of Bloomington Airport, 1941.

This aerial view of Bloomington Municipal Airport (now Central Illinois Regional Airport, or CIRA) looks northwest and shows the main hanger and East Lawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Today, this old hanger site is occupied by Image Air and the Prairie Aviation Museum.

The Shape of Things to Come Brunton’s First Delivery Truck, 1908

Brunton truck, 1908.

This 1908 scene shows Campbell Brunton behind the wheel of the very first truck owned by the family business, Brunton’s Parcel Delivery and City Express. At the time Campbell worked as a clerk for his father Frank G. Brunton.

‘Lucky Lindy’ Bails Out November 1926

Lindbergh crash, 1926.

On the evening of November 3, 1926, Charles Lindbergh jumped out of his U.S. airmail biplane somewhere in the skies far above McLean County. Flying blind and out of fuel at 13,000 feet, a 24-year-old “Lucky Lindy” parachuted into the inky darkness and blowing snow. He landed unharmed at a farm just outside of Covell, an unincorporated community southwest of Bloomington. Meanwhile, his doomed, pilotless aircraft had crashed nearby.

Twilight of the Interurban Downtown Bloomington, 1950

Downtown terminal, 1950.

This September 1950 scene shows an Illinois Terminal Railroad car trundling past the 200 block of North Madison Street in downtown Bloomington. Illinois Terminal is often misidentified as a city streetcar system. In fact it was an electrified light rail network connecting many Central Illinois communities to each other and St. Louis. Bloomington lost interurban service in February 1953.

Prairie Birds to the Rescue! Great Chicago Fire, October 8-9, 1871

Locomotive, 1871.

As the Great Chicago Fire raged out of control the night and early morning of October 8-9, 1871, Mayor Roswell B. Mason made a desperate plea over the telegraph wires for additional firefighters and equipment. This image shows the American Standard locomotive No. 97 that carried the Prairie Birds and their steamer on a flatbed railcar to Chicago.

Mother Road Turns Deadly October 28, 1949

Route 66 crash, 1949.

John M. Newman of Pittsfield, IL, was killed on October 28, 1949, when his Pacific Intermountain Express truck sideswiped an automobile parked along Route 66 south of Bloomington. The owner of the parked vehicle, 20-year-old Donald Slaughter of Bloomington, was unharmed in the tragic accident.

‘Old School’ Public Transportation Twin City Streetcars Date to 1867

Bloomington streetcars, 1867.

The week of September 2, 2015 marked 148th anniversary of the first official run of the Bloomington-Normal streetcar system. It was on September 6, 1867, that the Bloomington & Normal Horse Railway inaugurated its first line, which connected Downtown Bloomington with Uptown Normal. As implied in the system’s original name, the earliest streetcars were pulled by horses. The system was electrified in 1890.

Chenoa Airport, 1948

Here are two more photographs from the rural airport’s second annual air show, held August 29, 1948.

Photo of the Week, 107: Marjorie Wikoff: "Lady Cabbie" in 1957

Marjorie Wikoff:

Marjorie Wikoff, a licensed practical nurse, turned to cab driving in 1957 because there wasn't enough local nursing work to pay the bills. Read more...

Photo of the Week, 106: Fender Bender and Then Some, 1958

Fender Bender and Then Some, 1958

Three individuals were hurt in an automobile accident the morning of March 20, 1958.

Photo of the Week, 105: Circus Travel by 'House Car'

Circus Travel by

In April 1936, Gene Enos posed before his new aluminum "house car" trailer.

Photo of the Week, 98: New Marathon Station Opens, 1957

New Marathon Station Opens, 1957

The Twin City's third Marathon service station opened in Bloomington in 1957. The station is no longer standing; today, it is home to Franzetti's Pantry Plus convenience store.

Photo of the Week, 78: War Clouds Looming

Seen here are Bloomington area Girl Scouts training as blackout and air raid messengers. From left to right: Charlotte Ratcliffe, Isabel Gottschalk, Kay Johnston, and Gloria Sampson.

On November 16, 1941, with the likelihood of American entry into World War II increasing with each passing day, The Pantagraph ran a photo essay on the type of work women should expect come wartime on the home front.

Photo of the Week, 71: Grim Reapers Pay Respects to Fallen Comrade

About 50 members of the Grim Reapers Motorcycle Club led a funeral procession for L. Wayne Martin.

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