Rockford & Interurban Railway

Arcadia Publishing
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With today's America dominated by the automobile, it is difficult to believe that until the 1920s nearly 100 percent of the US population traveled via rail. Conventional passenger-train service spread rapidly by the 1850s, but another form of rail transportation did not emerge until the turn of the 20th century: the interurban. Almost always electric, interurbans linked cities with burghs. Rockford, one of Illinois's three largest urban centers during the 20th century, enjoyed a system appropriately named the Rockford & Interurban, dating from the city's horse-drawn streetcars of the 1880s. By World War I, the Rockford & Interurban ran from downtown Rockford to Cherry Valley and Belvidere; Winnebago, Pecatonica, and Freeport; Roscoe and Rockton; and Beloit and Janesville, Wisconsin. The Rockford & Interurban enjoyed a supernova of success, rising quickly in popularity before slowly dying when the automobile became widespread in the 1920s; the Great Depression finished the job in 1936.
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About the author

Rockford native Mike Schafer is a transportation historian and photographer who has observed and documented the North American railroad scene. Machesney Park resident Brian Landis is an aficionado of northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin railroading. Both have been in search of early photographs of the R&I and, with the archives of the Chicago-based Shore Line Interurban Historical Society and local sources, present their story here.

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Additional Information

Arcadia Publishing
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Published on
Mar 23, 2015
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History / United States / State & Local / Midwest (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI)
Photography / Subjects & Themes / Regional
Transportation / Railroads / History
Transportation / Railroads / Pictorial
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