As public land was transferred to railroad companies, the 111 miles of track in Illinois in 1850 increased to over 10,000 by 1890. Thousands of new settlers were attracted to the lands along the Illinois Central. Many towns, including Centralia, Champaign, Carbondale, and Mattoon, sprung up at railroad junctions. Chicago became the hub of a huge rail-transportation network. Railroads provided reliable, cheap transportation for Illinois agricultural and industrial products and brought many manufactured goods to Illinois from the East. Rising family incomes, due to increased markets for Illinois products, and lower transportation costs for domestic goods, made it possible for families to acquire more household goods and to have a wider selection.
© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96