~The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific
was first chartered as the Rock Island and La Salle Railroad in 1847.
~The Rock Island “Rocket” was named after a train that first ran from London
to Liverpool in 1825.
~Sheffield, Illinois had a fifty-fifty chance of being called “Farnam”
because (according to local lore) Joseph Sheffield and Henry Farnam,
builders of the Rock Island Railroad, flipped a coin to name the town.
~Three of the boats on the Grand Excursion (the Golden Era, the
Sparhawk, and the Lady Franklin) were built at Wheeling, West
~Millard Fillmore lost his wife to pneumonia fifteen months before the Grand
Excursion (March 31, 1853) and his daughter to cholera seven weeks after the
Excursion (July 26, 1854).
~Fifty-nine journalists were on the 1854 Grand Excursion, forty-nine of them
from New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
~Excursionists saw two bridges under construction: the first bridge over the
Mississippi (1855) at St. Anthony (Minneapolis) and the first railroad
bridge over the Mississippi (1856) at Rock Island.
~During the year of the Grand Excursion, 1854: Oscar Wilde, John Phillip
Sousa, and Engelbert Humperdinck were born; Thoreau’s Walden and the
first edition of John Bartlett's Familiar Quotations were published;
and Abe Lincoln was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives.
~Stephan Hanks created the first log raft on the Upper Mississippi in 1844,
and also rode the last log raft on the river in 1914.
~After almost a century of significant steamboat traffic on the Upper
Mississippi, almost no through cargo traffic could be found on the river
between 1918 and 1925.
~The Delta Queen, a sternwheeler in use on Mississippi River today, was
fabricated in Scotland and assembled in California.
Delta Queen going under the Blackhawk Bridge at Lansing,
Note that its smokestack is lowered.
~The basic techniques used by commercial fishermen today on the Upper
Mississippi are virtually identical to those used in the nineteenth century.
~The Upper Mississippi is home to about 120 species of fish, far more than
the fifteen or fewer species in a typical Midwestern lake.
~The Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (which
extends from above Rock Island to about Winona, Minnesota) attracts as many
annual visitors as Yellowstone Park (about 3.5 million).
~Rock Island divides the Upper Mississippi into two contrasting parts; below
it is dominated by agriculture protected by levees and above it is mainly
the National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and an very few agricultural levees.
~The Burlington Railroad’s Zephyr streamlined trains were named after
Zephyrus, the god of the west wind.
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