Track Talk

January 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

tracks2In an earlier post I described the dilemmas caused by the possibility of high speed trains passing on the Third Street tracks behind the Dana-Thomas House (click here to read).  That crisis was averted when the Federal Railroad Administration ruled to route the “super trains” (110 mph) on Springfield’s Tenth Street tracks.  Now officials are planning to upgrade the Third Street tracks so that freight and passenger train speeds through Springfield can be raised from the current 25 mph to 40 mph.  Once again, damage to the House from train vibrations is a concern.

This isn’t the first time the property was endangered by a fast train. On July 9, 1910, both the Illinois State Journal and the Illinois State Register reported that two “empty” rail cars jumped the tracks at Third and Lawrence and crashed into the brick wall surrounding the Lawrence House.  The train was running at a “fair rate of speed,” and the brake beam on the first car broke, derailing them both.   The Journal further reported that the boxcars were not really empty because several hoboes spilled out of them and fled the scene immediately.

The startled travelers were undoubtedly riding the rails to Chicago which, according to the Encyclopedia Chicago History, was the Hobo Capital of the World at that time.  Those same rails frequently took Susan to Chicago, the transportation hub of the country, where she made connections to other destinations. Continuing the tradition, I boarded an Amtrak train and traveled on those tracks to the Windy City this week-end.  The Third Street tracks have a long history of making Chicago journeys easy for all kinds of people.  I will be watching with interest as the next chapter of that history unfolds.

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