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Art. III. — Commercial and Industrial Cities of the United States.



Among the "magic cities" of the West, which spring up upon the prairies with such wonderful vigor of growth as to excite the surprise of the observant world, Peoria, Illinois, is a favorable example. Although the city took root fairly about fifteen years since, its site was one of the earliest trodden by the whites west of the mountains. The pioneer in that region, as almost everywhere else in that age, was a French Jesuit, Father Marquette, who visited it in 1673. Six years later, the Chevalier La Salle, from Rouen, in Normandy, seeking fame and fortune in those wilds erected near the site of the present city his fort of Creve Corur, expressive of his chagrin at the loss of the richly laden vessel in which he had crossed the lakes on his return homeward. This fort continued for some time the halting place for French expeditions between Canada and the Mexican Gulf. Twenty-six years later, Dr. Daniel Coxe, physician to Charles II., visited the country, and published his account of it, under the title of "A description of the English Province of Carolina." More than one hundred years, after the visit of La Salle, another Frenchman, M. Hypolite Maillet moved, in 1779, with a small colony to the


vicinity, and commenced the settlement of La Ville de Maillet. This was the foundation of the famous "French claims" controversy. The original French settlement was about a mile north of the town, but owing to the unhealthfulness of that locality it was gradually deserted for a settlement below what is now Liberty-street. In 1781, or about that time, the inhabitants of the settlement became alarmed and abandoned it. At the end of some two years, however, they returned, and resided peacefully until the commencement of the war between this country and Great Britain in 1812. Ninion Edwards was then governor of the Territory of Illinois.

In the fall of 1813, an expedition was planned against the Indians of the territory, who were giving unmistakable signs of hostilities. The result of the expedition was the expulsion of the French from the Peoria country, and the erection of Fort Clark at the spot which is now the junction of Liberty and Water streets.

The present settlement of Peoria was commenced by seven settlers from Shoal Creek, about forty miles east of St. Louis. The names of the party were Abner Eads, Seth and Josiah Fulton, Virginians; S. Dougherty, J. Davis, and T. Russell, Kentuckians; and J. Hersey, a New Yorker. They arrived in Peoria on the 19th of April, 1819, and pitched their tent by the pickets of Fort Clark till they could cover and fit up two old log huts that were still remaining. One of these huts stood on the present site of the Illinois Brewery on Bridge-street. In June, this company was reinforced by a small party from St. Louis, who came to the lake for the purpose of fishing. The following winter two additional families came in — one from Ohio and another from New York. In 1822, John Hamlin, Esq., was appointed Indian Agent, and became the first exporter of pork and provisions in boats to Chicago.

Peoria County was organized in 1825. The territory embraced in its limits comprises between 30 and 40 of the present counties of the State, It extended to the Mississippi on the west, Indiana on the east, and Wisconsin on the north, taking in Galena, Chicago, and other places then unborn, Chicago then contained only a fort and agency house of the American Fur Company.

The first county election was held on March 25th, 1825; the whole timber of votes cast being 66. Nathan Dillon, Joseph Smith, and Wm. Holland were chosen County Commissioners; Norman Hyde, Clerk; Samuel Fulton, Sheriff; and Aaron Hawley, Treasurer. At this meeting it was ordered that a court-house and clerk's office be built. The court-house was built of hewn logs, 14 by 16 feet, with a cellar beneath, which was used sometimes as a jail and sometimes as a stable. The court-room was occupied as a place of worship on Sundays, and during the sessions of court at night as a lodging room for those attending, there not being accommodation at the solitary hotel of the town. This court-house stood till 1843, when it was pulled down to give place to Orin Hamlin's steam flooring mill, now better known as the "Old Red Mill."

Peoria was laid off as a town and named in 1826, but owing to a difficulty about the title, its incorporation was retarded for some eight or nine years. In 1835, the qualified voters accepted the corporation. In 1832, a great panic was created among the surrounding settlers by the ravages of Black Hawk in Northern Illinois. The settlers between the Rock and Illinois rivers fled in dismay. Peoria then contained some fifteen


or twenty hamlets, with only two frame houses. The inhabitants, however, to the number of some twenty-five, formed themselves into a company, which they called the Peoria Guards, and resolved to defend the place. The old fort was rebuilt, the ferry seized, and none of the fugitive whites, save the women and children, were allowed to pass. Quite a formidable force was thus collected, which Black Hawk did not molest. Many of the fugitives remained and became citizens of Peoria. The Black Hawk troubles were closed in September of 1832 by treaty.

In 1833, the entire town consisted of seven frame houses; the remainder were log tenements, and few at that. There was but one building (a barn) west of Washington-street. Lots on Washington-street sold for forty dollars. The court was held in the old log-house before mentioned; the grand jury deliberated in the pleasant shade of a locust tree now standing on Liberty-street; and the petit jury retired to partially-filled cellar of the old French settlers, or a potato hole, to make up their verdicts. Such was Peoria only twenty-six years ago.

The first census of Peoria county was taken in 1825. The population amounted in all to 1,236, of which 611 were males and 625 females. In 1826, we find John Hamlin, Esq., as one of the County Commissioners. In 1830, the county was reduced to its present limits, and showed a population of 1,792.

In 1834, the first newspaper enterprise was started, a weekly paper called The Illinois Champion, published by Abraham L. Buxton and Henry Wolford. The first number was issued March 19th.

The first steamboat that arrived at Peoria was the Liberty, in December, 1820. The second boat was the Triton, in the spring of 1830, which was chartered by John Hamlin to take a stock of goods up from St. Louis. In 1833, there were four steamboats plying the river, and in 1834, there were seven. The first boat built in Peoria was completed by Capt. Wm. S. Moss, in 1848.

In 1833, a contract was entered into between the County Commissioners and Stephen Stillman, who by himself, his heirs, executors, assigns, or associates, was to have the exclusive privilege to bring water to the public square. It was to be brought in lead, wood, or other pipes by the 1st of June, 1834, which was done by the use of bored logs. The water was taken from "Stillman's Spring," on Rose Hill.

Peoria was incorporated as a city in 1844. In then contained, according to a census taken by the late S. W. Drown, a population of 1,610, divided according to ages as follows: — Under 10, 486; between ten and twenty, 319; between twenty and fifty, 718; over fifty, 86. During that year the increase of population was 315. The first election under the city charter was held on the 28th of April, 1845. In 1844, S. W. Drown published the first volume of his Peoria Directory. The first canal-boat that visited Peoria was the Gen. Shields, which arrived the 24th of May, 1848. She was built in Rochester, New York, and came by the way of Buffalo, Ohio and Erie Canal, and thence by the Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois rivers. The owner of the boat had his family with him to locate on the western prairies. The Michigan and Illinois Canal was opened two days afterward, and was the cause of great rejoicing in Peoria. The price of lumber fell one-half.

Among the most interesting features of a growing town is the progress of its manufactures, which always spring up and follow the local wants,


developing the best local resources for supplying those wants. In 1830, John Hamlin and John Sharp erected the first flouring mill in that section of the State. It was located on the Kickapoo, about three miles west of the city. The mill contained two run of stones, and manufactured about fifty barrels of flour per day, or twenty-four hours. Considerable of this flour was transported by flat-boats, in 1832-3, to New Orleans, where it brought from $1 37˝ to $1 50 per barrel. In 1850, there were four mills within the city limits, and the amount of flour exported (saying nothing of the home consumption) was put down at 33,753 barrels which, at $4 50 per barrel, was valued at $151,877 50. In 1855, the census value of the flour manufactured was $650,000.

There are now six flouring mills in operation. One of them, the Peoria City Flouring Mills, owned by a stock company, was put in operation in November, 1858. It has a capacity for making 2,500 barrels of flour per week, and has been so erected that with a very small outlay its capacity can be doubled. It is equipped with two run of Rand's patent stones, which will grind from fifty to sixty bushels of wheat each per hour. Owing to a failure of crops last season this mill has not yet been put in full operation. The Fayette Mills, on North Fayette-street, are owned by W. Moore, contain three run of stones, and are capable of manufacturing one hundred and fifty barrels of flour per day. The Farmers' Mill is situated on Adams-street, and has about the same capacity. Then there is the "Old Red Mill," operated by McClanahan & Co., and the mills of Moss, Bradley & Co. and Richard Gregg, running in connection with their distillery business, at the south part of the city.

The wheat crop being cut off last year, the operation of these mills has been greatly curtailed. The amount of wheat ground last year (independent of the Peoria City Mills, which has been in operation less than six months,) we find, by the statement of the proprietors, to have been a round numbers 490,000 bushels, which, at five bushels to the barrel, produced 98,000 barrels of flour. With a good crop the present autumn, these figures, swelled by the manufacture of the Peoria City Mills, will nearly doubled for 1859.

The importance of Peoria as a place for the manufacture of agricultual implements, cannot be over-estimated. She has an easy water communication with St. Louis and Chicago, and the numerous railroads centering there tap the surrounding country in all directions. Then, she furnishes all the requisite fuel for manufactures (a most important item elsewhere) in inexhaustible quantities, and at prices almost insignificant. These advantages have been appreciated and availed of in the establishment of many manufactories.

Prominent among these manufactories is that of the plow. This was commenced in the spring of 1843. At that time but one forge was operated, and less than two hundred plows were turned out during the year. The excellency of these plows soon gave them a reputation, and the proprietors went on annually increasing the capacity of their establishment, until they are able to turn out ten thousand plows per year. The establishment furnishes employment to fifty men.

Two years ago was commenced the manufacture of wheat drills in Peoria. The establishment employs in good times fifty to sixty men, and annually manufactures one thousand drills, valued at $80,000. Corn-shellers, horse-powers, &c., were manufactured last year to the


value of $9,000. The sales last year of threshing machines, reapers and mowers, corn mills, and other implements, amounted to the value of $69,000.

There are two steam planing mills in the city, both of them doing a fair business, and are capable of planing five million feet of lumber each yearly. In addition to the planers, there is a siding saw, capable of turning out twenty thousand feet of siding per day, and ripping and scroll saw for various work, earning, with two men to tend them, from $20 to $25 per day.

There are four establishments for the manufacture of sash, doors, and blinds; the value of the sash, doors, and blinds manufactured last year amounted to $29,871.

There are four foundries, machine, and boiler shops at present in Peoria, one with a capacity to employ from thirty-five to forty men, and turn out work to the value of $75,000 to $80,000 annually. Every variety of castings is made, and of sizes varying from one pound to one-and-one-half tons. The machine-shop department is driven by an engine of 20 horse power. The City Foundry machinery is driven by a 16 horse power, and the establishment is capable of furnishing employment to fifty men, and turning out from $60,000 to $75,000 worth of work annually. Fort Clark Foundry and Machine Shop is driven by an engine of 20 horse power. It was built five years ago last spring, and can give employment to some fifty men, and turn out work to the value of from $50,000 to $75,000. All of these establishments furnish anything in the way of iron castings or machinery, from the smallest article to a complete steam-engine of the largest size. The Peoria Boiler and Sheet Iron Works is capable of turning out a boiler a day. A machine shop, containing two lathes and a turning machine, is connected with the works, the whole being driven by steam.

The carriage-making establishments of Peoria are as fine and complete as can be found in the West. The value of the manufactures turned out last year, which were small on account of the exceedingly small demand for wagons from the surrounding country, amounted to 853,775. The attention of the people of Illinois is attracted to the carriage establishments of Peoria, which are very creditable to the State. Any style of carriage can be duplicated, and at a price full as low as it will cost to bring it from the East, and the work will be warranted.

There are four establishments in the city engaged, in connection with other business, in the manufacture of fanning mills. The number manufactured last year was 1,050, valued at $31,500.

The furniture manufactured in Peoria will rank with any in the country. It is well made, of excellent finish, solid, and durable. The sales are about $60,000 per annum for three firms.

There are two brass foundries in the city. One is an establishment capable of turning out $10,000 worth of work per year; the second establishment has been just erected, and gives employment to two men.

An establishment for the manufacture of iron safes, bank vaults, door locks, iron railing, balconies, &c, gives employment to half a dozen men.

A lightning-rod manufactory used last year 100 tons of iron and two tons of copper, making 5,000 lightning-rods, valued at $34,000, and gives employment to about twenty men. It is driven by horse power.

The Peoria Starch Manufacturing Company carry on their operations


to the following extent: — Corn used, 40,000 bushels; starch manufactured, 20,000 boxes; value, $80,000.

There are three establishments in Peoria for marble work, such as gravestones, monuments, mantels and counter tops, &c. The marble is obtained from Vermont, and rivals in quality and beauty the best of imported marble. The value of last year's manufactures, as taken from the books of the manufacturers, amounts to $36,400.

There are two stone-cutting establishments, giving employment to 17 men, and turned out work last year to the value of $16,000. They are doing a very much larger business so far this year than they did the last. The stone worked up in these yards is brought from Joliet.

There are seven saddle and harness shops in the city, the aggregate of whose manufactures last year exceeded $30,000.

In giving a statement of the distilleries, we included the operations of the cooper shops connected with them. There are eight cooper shops in addition to these. The number of pieces manufactured in the city last year, as returned to us, was 104,340. This is exclusive of small articles, such as kegs, tubs, firkins, &c, valued at some $5,000. Value of manufactures not less than $40,000.

Boat-building is, in good times, an important branch of manufacture. There have been years during which over $50,000 worth of work has been turned out. The commercial revulsion and short crops for two years past, however, have cut off the manufacture of new boats for the present. The value of the work done last year was in the neighborhood of $14,000. There are at present three yards. One is engaged in building the new steam ferry-boat that is to ply across the lake. The boat is to be one hundred feet in length and forty-two in width over deck, and double hull with eight feet opening in the middle. It will have ample cabin accommodations for passengers and deck arrangements for the accommodation of fifteen or twenty teams at a crossing. The cost of the boat when finished, exclusive of engine, will be between $6,000 and $7,000. The boat will be driven by two engines of about 75 horse power, which will cost, when set up, about $3,000. In addition to this, there are building four ice-boats, to be used to convey ice to St. Louis.

The distilleries of Peoria form its heaviest manufacturing interest, about two-thirds of a million of dollars in stock and buildings being invested in it. There are six in operation at present, exclusive of the alcohol works, all located on the river bank in the south part of the city. From a detailed statement of the business of Messrs. Moss, Bradley & Co., who have $144,000 invested in the manufacture, the following facts relative to a single establishment are derived. The statement is made up for the year ending April 30, 1859: —

  Bushels. Cost.   Barrels.
Corn purchased 243,266 $117,057 60 Highwines manufactured 17,561
Wheat 30,724 25,987 90 Flour 2,000
Rye 11,574 8,217 79 Hogs purchased and fed No. 3,636
Barley 3,882 2,473 16 Cattle 43
Oats 1,437 622 97 Men employed in distillery 38
Barley malt 3,740 4,321 98    
Middlings lbs. 815,984 9,787 32    
Coal & charcoal 102,220 7,322 94    

A cooper shop connected with the distillery employs 33 men, using up


last year stock (staves, beading, and hoop-poles) to the amount of $13,353 39, and manufacturing the following number of barrels: —

Whisky barrels. 15,898 Flour barrels 235
Pork barrels 2,641 Lard tierces 224
Alcohol barrels. 2,461 Kegs 31
Pieces in all 21,490

The statements of the other distilleries are not so full and minute, but from the facts we have gathered, taken personally at each establishment, we are enabled to give the following figures as the distilling business (with the exception mentioned below) of Peoria the past year: —

Corn used bushels 1,304,482
Wheat, (mostly made into flour,) 181,724
Other grains 126,433
Coal used 754,620
Whisky barrels 108,368
Hogs fattened No. 33,436

Richard Gregg has a cooper shop connected with his establishment, in which was manufactured last year 30,000 whisky, 6,000 flour, and 4,000 pork barrels.

Another distillery for the manufacture of first qualities of rye, Bourbon, and malt whisky, rum, gin, &c, has been in operation only five months. The following is a statement of its operations for the five months it has been in operation: —

Chinese sugar-cane molasses (soured) consumed bbls 118
Rye highwines 200
Corn highwines 265
Malt highwines 25
Alcohol 20
Coal and charcoal bush 5,645
Copper distilled rye whisky, at proof, manufactured bbls 250
Copper distilled Bourbon whisky, at proof 330
Copper distilled malt whisky, at proof 30
Copper distilled rum, at proof 30
Copper distilled gin, at proof pipes 5

There are two alcohol distilleries in the city. In addition to the alcohol, both establishments manufacture pure spirits, camphene, and burning fluid. The last year's operations of one amounted to 7,500 barrels of alcohol. The other has a building 100 by 35 feet, containing a steam-engine of ten horse-power, and capable of using 80 barrels of whisky per day, which will produce 48 barrels of alcohol; at present manufacturing and shipping about 150 barrels per week.

The ale and beer manufacture is a very important one in Peoria, and is rapidly increasing. In 1855, according to the census returns, the value of the ale and beer manufactured was $24,900; it is now upwards or $81,000. One brewery presents us with the following statement of its operations for the last year: —

Malt consumed bush. 4,923 Coal consumed bush. 4,320
Hops lbs. 7,032 Ale manufactured bbls. 1,371

Total ale and lager beer manufactured last year, 11,671 barrels; value, at $7 per barrel, $81,697.

There are at the present time ten individuals and firms residing in the city who are engaged in the manufacture of bricks, but, with one exception,


we believe all the brick-yards are outside of the city limits. The following is a statement of the brick manufacture of Peoria at the present time, as we have obtained it from those engaged: —

Number of bricks manufactured 11,400,000
Number of hands employed 123
Value of manufactures $57,000
Value of those manufactured in 1855, as given in the census 20,750

There are a great number of other smaller manufactures in Peoria, which are too numerous to give the details, but which are not the less important to the social welfare of that thriving place.

The Peoria County fair grounds comprise 22˝ acres of land, tastefully laid out and conveniently arranged for the accommodation of exhibitors and spectators. The avenues and pathways which intersect the grounds are numerous, and are disposed in the best approved style. The buildings are spacious and appropriate, and adequate to any demand. Contiguous to the twenty-two-and-a-half acres enclosed within the fair grounds proper are forty acres of land which can be used for the purposes of a fair, on extraordinary occasions.

The state of the schools at the present time may be briefly summed up as follows: — Five school houses owned by the city, capable of seating, with the room leased for the sixth school in the basement of the United Presbyterian Church, 1,272 pupils. The houses are all fine structures, well arranged and commodious, well lighted and ventilated, and furnished with all the modern improvements in seats and desks.

Peoria has twenty-three churches, representing twelve different denominations. These churches, with perhaps one or two exceptions, possess commodious and comfortable houses of worship, many of them fine and costly structures. There are twenty Sunday-schools connected with them, with libraries containing a total of 9,800 volumes.

There are two library associations in the city. The Peoria City Library was organized in January, 1857, and was the consolidation of two former library associations. It numbers 350 members, and contains some 3,500 carefully selected volumes, to which additions are made yearly. The German Library Association was organized in August, 1857, numbers 100 members, and contains 500 volumes.

Peoria is possessed, for a city of her size, of a very efficient fire department, numbering three engines, a hook and ladder apparatus, and 141 firemen.

The city is possessed of an effective police force, both day and night, and crimes are of rare occurrence.

There are five military companies in the city, two American, two German, and one Irish, and all in a good state of discipline and a prosperous condition.

Independent of her manufactures, Peoria has a very large trade in grain, pork, lumber, coal, West India and other goods. We have no means of getting at the annual grain business of past years, but the imports and exports for the years 1850-2-5-6, will give the reader some idea of its magnitude and growth: —

  1850. 1853. 1855. 1856.
Corn 628,729 1,080,064 1,356,568 2,569,780
Wheat 151,466 430,460 594,533 320,199
Oats 265,867 251,524 318,161 385,595
Barley 6,331 18,790 20,587 50,662


It must be recollected that those were years of abundant crops, while the past two have been years of scarcity. Little or no grain came into market last year, save of last year's growth; and our returns give the amount of corn exported at 710,890 bushels; used in the distilleries 1,304,482 bushels; starch factory, 40,000. This does not include the amount ground into meal and feed at our several feed mills, or otherwise consumed in the city, which will swell the amount to a million and a quarter of bushels, or very nearly the figures of 1856. The amount of wheat exported last year was 127,623 bushels; manufactured into flour &c, 554,724 bushels; total, 682,347 bushels. The oat crop last year was almost entirely cut off. The amount exported, saying nothing of the home consumption, was 16,244 bushels. There was no barley or rye exported of any consequence, it being used in our various distilleries and breweries.

The pork packing business is very important, and has been pretty steadily on the increase. We give the number of hogs packed for the following years: —

1850 26,796 1856 44 789
1853 23,725 1857 35,322

The number of hogs packed last year was 53,550, or 18,245 more than the previous year. The following is a statement of the different houses engaged in packing, and the number packed by each: —

Tyng & Brotherson 21,000 G. Trant 2,200
Reynolds & Co 17,150 Kellogg & Nowland, for Adams & Co., St. Louis 5,000
Grier & McClure 8,200    
Total   53,550

Most of the slaughtering was done by Reynolds & Co., who killed 28,512 hogs, and Kellogg & Nowland, who killed some over 10,000. Their slaughter-houses are located on the river bank, in the neighborhood of the distilleries. The above statement does not include the retail butchering business of the city.

There are at present sixteen individuals and firms in the lumber trade. Several new ones have entered the business the past year. Although the trade was greatly curtailed by the absence of any country demand, we find the sales to have been larger than any previously reported year. The following is a statement of the sales in 1853-5-6-8: —

  Lumber, feet. Shingles, pieces. Lath, pieces.
1853 6,256,683 3,602,000 1,107,600
1855 9,715,284 6,815,500 3,102,800
1866 13,960,140    
1858 14,768,000 9,284,339 3,411,200

The books of the census taker and the assessor are the best criterions by which to judge of the progress of a city. The assessor, however, seldom comes up to the real valuation. Below we give a table of the population and valuation of Peoria for each year since 1844: —

  Population. Valuation.   Population. Valuation.
1844 1,610 $319,952 1852 7,316 1,797,930
1845 1,934 323,022 1853 8,285 2,315,660
1846 2,392 655,711 1854 10,l55 2,212,262
1847 3,014 719,837 1855 11,923 2,857,980
1848 4,079 854,536 1856 14,500 4,458,530
1849 4,601 1,154,029 1857 17,482 4,718,965
1850 5,890 1,540,281 1858 21,103 4,739,910
1851 6,202 1,751,662      


It cannot be denied that the late financial revulsion of our country, and the short crops of this section for two years past, have had their effect on the business interests of Peoria; but, we can say with truth, that she has suffered as little as any place of her size in the Union, if not less. There is no place where less property is owned by foreign capitalists; and no place where the local property holders are so free from embarrassment from foreign creditors. During the whole of the hard times, not a half dozen failures occurred, small and great. The operations of trade and manufactures suffered curtailment, but it was only a temporary infliction. Already, with true elastic force, both trade and manufactures are springing back to their former prosperous condition, while all the signs of the times indicate that a greater impetus will be given to the progress of the city than ever before.

There are now in process of erection 120 substantial buildings, of which the aggregate cost will reach over $270,000. This is a greater number than was ever before erected at one time, and affords great evidence of the progressive nature of the business of the place.

The Illinois River was formerly the great channel of communication between Peoria and other places. All imports and exports found by it their inlet and outlet. Everything, even to lumber, was shipped to Peoria from St. Louis, Pittsburg, and other points on the great rivers. The first exports from Peoria, we have already stated, were by John Hamlin, Esq., in 1826. The first steamboat arrived at Peoria in December, 1829. Ten years afterwards forty-four different boats arrived. In 1848, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, connecting the Illinois River with Lake Michigan, was opened, and had the effect to reduce the price of lumber in Peoria one-half. The price of other commodities was affected, but not to such a degree. In 1850, fifty-nine different boats visited Peoria, making 1,286 arrivals. Six of these were regular packet boats, plying between St. Louis and La Salle; twenty-seven were tow-boats.

Since the opening of the various railroads leading out of the city, the importance of the Illinois River as a channel of communication has some-what diminished. Still the river business is very heavy. A daily line of steam packets ply between Peoria, St. Louis, and La Salle; and the trim steamer Delta makes two trips a day between that city and Pekin, ten miles below. There are, besides these, several boats running between there and Pittsburg and other cities, and scarcely a day goes by without the arrival and departure of some laboring steamer, with a fleet of canal-boats in tow. The amount of Peoria freight received and forwarded by the river last year by steamers was 60,000 tons. This was exclusive of the merchandise shipped by canal-boats, of which there are no reliable statistics, although it was heavy. The distance by river between Peoria and St. Louis is two hundred and forty miles.

There are at present three railroads leading from the city, with two additional roads in process of construction.

The Peoria and Bureau Valley Railroad runs from Peoria to Bureau Junction, where it connects with the Chicago and Rock Island Road. It is forty-seven miles in length. The company was organized in June, 1853, and the road was completed in November, 1854. It is operated by the Chicago and Rook Island Company, who pay an annual rent of $125,000. The distance between Peoria and Chicago by this and the Rock Island Road is 160 miles; between Peoria and Davenport, Iowa, 115 miles.


The Peoria, Oquawka, and Burlington Railroad extends from Peoria to Burlington, Iowa, a distance of 95 miles. The company was organized in June, 1851, and the road completed in January, 1857. The road is operated by Moss, Harding & Co., lessees. The amount of freight received and shipped at the Peoria station of this road last year was 28,000 tons.

The Peoria and Oquawka (Eastern Extension) Railroad is now, completed to Gilman, on the Chicago Branch of the Illinois Central Railroad 86 miles, and is in process of construction to Logansport, Indiana, 87 miles further, where it will connect with the Toledo, Wabash, and Western Railroad direct to Toledo, and thence east by the Lake Shore and other routes; also at Logansport with the Cincinnati and Chicago Road to Cincinnati, and Central Ohio, &c.; and at Fort Wayne with the Pittsburg and Fort-Wayne Road to Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and New York. A connection will also be made at Middleport, Iroquois County, Illinois, with the Lafayette and Indianapolis Road, (to be extended from Lafayette to Middleport,) whereby the distance to Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati will be still further shortened.

The Illinois River Railroad, which is in process of construction, is to extend from Peoria to Jacksonville, 86 miles, where it will connect with the Jacksonville, Alton, and St. Louis Railroad, thus forming, with the Bureau Valley and the Chicago and Rock Island roads, another continuous line from Chicago to St. Louis.

Peoria is immediately surrounded by immense and inexhaustible mines of bituminous coal. It crops out of the bluffs on nearly every hand, and is mined and brought to the city and exposed for sale in wagons, the same as wood and hay. An idea of its extreme cheapness may be gained when we say that the average price of this coal, delivered at people's doors, is about eight cents per bushel, or $2 per ton. Let one consider the cost of mining, the expense of a team of two horses and wagon, with man, to bring it into the city, taking a half-day and sometimes more, before a sale is effected, and we think that he will agree with us that there is not a very large margin for profits, and that it cannot well be afforded cheaper. Large consumers, however, such as distillers and manufacturers, pay 7˝ cents per bushel, delivered. A heavy business has sprung up within a couple of years, or since the opening of railroads east and west, in the way of exportation of coal. It is shipped to all points of Central Illinois, and westward toward Galesburg and Burlington. The coal so exported last year, as we learn from those engaged in it, amounted to 570,000 bushels. The following is the nearest approximation to the actual amount of the coal business of Peoria that we can arrive at: —

Consumed in manufactures, not weighed by city bush. 1,040,358
Weighed by city 380,695
Exported 570,000
Total 1,991,053
Value, at eight cents per bushel $159,284,24

An association was organized for the purpose of throwing a toll bridge across the Illinois River at Peoria in 1847. The bridge was commenced the year following, and completed in November, 1849, at a cost of about $33,000. In 1856, the bridge was repaired at a cost of $10,000. It is one of Howe's patent truss bridges, with five stone piers and one abutment,


and a swing 292 feet in length for the passage of steamboats. Including the trestle-work over the flat on the Tazewell County side, the bridge is 2,600 feet in length.

There is also a railroad bridge over the Illinois, built by the Eastern Extension. The length, including trestle-work, is nearly 4,000 feet, as follows: — truss bridge, 300 feet; swing, 292 feet; trestle-work, 3,300 feet. The cost of the bridge proper and swing was some $60,000.

The Peoria Gas and Coke Company was chartered in January, 1853, and went into operation in November, 1855. The capital is $85,000. The following are the statistics in regard to the operations of the works:

Coal used in 1858 bush. 25,773 Added the past year miles 1ź
Lime used in 1858 2,538 No. of street lamps 140
Gas manufactured feet 5,780,372 Added the present year 33
Tar manufactured bbls. 200 No. of private consumers 325
Price of gas per 1,000 feet $3 50 Value of gas and tar manufactured $20,681
Length of street mains miles 3˝    

The Peoria Marine and Fire Insurance Company was chartered in 1841; capital stock, $500,000. The following is a statement of the operations of this company for the year past: —

  Amount insured. Premiums. Losses paid.
Marine $1,572,387 59 $17,843 00 $4,370 08
Fire 6,806,077 00 89,375 19 46,897 60
Total $8,378,464 69 $107,218 19 $61,267 68