Alton in Madison County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Alton & Sangamon Railroad
"Drive the Locomotive through our land, and you will have business, activity, prosperity, and mettle." -Benjamin Godfrey
In 1834, a group of visionaries in Springfield, Illinois, led by Abraham Lincoln, proposed laying railroad tracks between the Mississippi River and Sangamon County. A group of six men from Alton, led by Benjamin Godfrey, secured the charter for the Alton & Sangamon Railroad on February 27, 1847.
Construction materials arrived in Alton in the summer of 1850, and by January 1851, 779 men were working on the project. Benjamin Godfrey lived in a railroad car to follow the work as it progressed. In 1851, Abraham Lincoln won a civil suit for Godfrey that ensured the solvency of the Alton & Sangamon Railroad. He wrote letters in support of the railroad and owned six shares of Alton & Sangamon stock, worth $600.
The railroad was completed to Springfield in September 1852, and it later became part of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. Godfrey's freight house also opened in 1852 at the corner of what is now West 5th Street and Piasa Street. The freight house was razed in 1971 to make way for
Erected 2019 by Benjamin Godfrey Legacy Trail Committee (sponsored by Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC). (Marker Number 4.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln series list. A significant historical month for this entry is January 1851.
Location. 38° 53.566′ N, 90° 11.235′ W. Marker is in Alton, Illinois, in Madison County. Marker is at the intersection of Belle Street and West 5th Street, on the right when traveling north on Belle Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 500 Belle Street, Alton IL 62002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Miles Davis (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Setting the Stage for the Great Debate (about 800 feet away); Godfrey, Gilman & Co. Warehouse (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ruins of First State Prison in Illinois (approx. 0.2 miles away); St. Paul's Episcopal Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Alton (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lincoln-Douglas Debates! (approx. 0.2 miles away); Discover History All Around Alton (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alton.
More about this marker. This is the fourth in the Benjamin Godfrey Legacy Trail series. As the marker states, there was no Marker Site #3, which would have been at or near Hayner Library in Alton.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 23, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 22, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 150 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 22, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.