190923_THEN

The railroad came to Janesville in 1853. Passenger service lasted until 1971. This photo from The Gazette’s archives shows the stops on the Sioux Line that ran from Chicago to Rapid City, South Dakota.

This undated photo from The Gazette’s archives shows a sign displaying the Milwaukee Road’s stops on the Sioux, a train that ran between Chicago and Rapid City, South Dakota.

It couldn’t be determined where the photo was taken. It’s unlikely Janesville had 15 gates at any time in the history of passenger railroad, so it’s more likely it was taken in Madison.

The railroad arrived in Janesville in 1853 with the Iowa arriving in a depot on a bluff east of the gas works, according a story in the Jan. 8, 1853, Gazette.

At least 800 people were on the scene.

“For an hour before the cars arrive, a dense crowd had collected round the depot, and when the train came in sight, an intense excitement pervaded the assemblage, which broke out in repeated cheers stopped in front of the depot,” the story said.

After a ceremony at the depot, a procession was held from the depot to Stevens Hotel, where it was “dismissed.”

“Soon every public house was filled, and private houses were liberally opened for the accommodations of guests,” according to the story.

At Stevens House, local businessmen celebrated the event with speeches and toasts to “the Union of the United States,” “the agricultural interests of Wisconsin” and “the press of Wisconsin.”

The reporter wrote he was unable to attend the whole celebration because of deadlines. He ended his story on this hopeful note: “It was a great event in the history of our town; a thriving era; destined in its immediate results to enhance its business felicities and foster its growth more than any and all other than have yet transpired.”

Passenger service to Janesville stopped in 1971.


UPDATE: We received this note from Den and Judy Adler with more information about this photo.

The Adlers are the co-authors of "Images of America: Janesville," a book of historical postcards that is published by Arcadia Press.

They sent us this email Monday morning:

The photo of Gate 15 in your "Then and Now" article on Monday, September 30, was taken at Chicago Union Station sometime between 1960 and April 30, 1971, the day before Amtrak took over passenger train service in the United States and the Milwaukee Road's passenger service to Janesville stopped.

The Sioux, the Milwaukee Road's train 11 westbound, once had parlor and sleeping car service to South Dakota, but by 1960 it was a coach-only train between Chicago and Madison, as shown in the photo. A December 7, 1969 Milwaukee Road timetable showed the train leaving Chicago at 6:30 p.m., arriving in Janesville at 8:30 p.m., and at Madison at 9:30 p.m. Eastbound, the Sioux, train number 22, left Madison at 7:15 a.m. and Janesville at 8 a.m., arriving at Madison at 10:05 a.m. Up until April 30, 1971, the train offered a service where a Janesville rider could leave in the morning, spend a day in Chicago, and return in the evening.

Today Janesville is in the Amtrak timetable with its Thruway Bus service with trips several times a day via Van Galder Bus between Madison, Janesville, and Chicago, where passengers can connect with Amtrak trains to cities across the country.

The "Iowa" that arrived in Janesville in 1853 was likely the name of the steam engine pulling the train, not the train itself.

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