A relic of Pekin’s railroad past

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Now that we’ve completed our series reprinting F. F. McNaughton’s daily dispatches relating the Pekin Kiwanis Club’s weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., in June 1932, it’s an ideal occasion to turn our attention to the mode of transportation by which the Kiwanians got from Pekin to Washington.

The Kiwanis Club members and their families back then were carried to and from the nation’s capital by passenger train. McNaughton mentioned in his editorial columns that they took “the Alton” to Chicago, and then “the B & O” to Washington. “The Alton” was the Chicago & Alton Railroad, while “the B & O” – a name that Monopoly-players will recognize – was the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In the days before the construction of the interstate highway system, rail was Americans’ preferred method of long-distance cross country travel.

Shown here is an old train schedule for the Chicago & Alton Railroad for Dec. 2, 1923.  The Alton depot in Pekin was located near the intersection of Broadway and 14th streets. A few years ago the depot -- no longer in use after since the rails were pulled up -- was relocated about a quarter-mile further east on Broadway. IMAGE COURTESY OF BOB CARROLL

Shown here is an old train schedule for the Chicago & Alton Railroad for Dec. 2, 1923. The Alton depot in Pekin was located near the intersection of Broadway and 14th streets. A few years ago the depot — no longer in use after since the rails were pulled up — was relocated about a quarter-mile further east on Broadway. IMAGE COURTESY OF BOB CARROLL

Shown here are the old routes of the Chicago & Alton Railroad in December 1923.  IMAGE COURTESY OF BOB CARROLL

Shown here are the old routes of the Chicago & Alton Railroad in December 1923. IMAGE COURTESY OF BOB CARROLL

The Alton Depot in Pekin was often known in town simply as “the Pekin Depot.” It was located near the intersection of Broadway and 14th. Even years after passenger rail travel ended in Pekin and the old tracks were pulled up, the Alton Depot still stood in its place as a reminder of days gone by. When the historic structure was threatened by the construction of a new Walgreens, the depot was preserved for future generations by being relocated about a quarter-mile east on Broadway.

Shown here is the old Pekin depot of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. Photo donated Jan. 2017 by Bob Carroll.

Shown here is the old Pekin depot of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. Photo donated Jan. 2017 by Bob Carroll

The old Alton Depot is historic not only because it served so many travelers leaving from or coming to Pekin over the years (such as the Pekin Kiwanians who toured Washington, D.C., in 1932), but in particular because it was the scene of Pekin’s first presidential campaign whistle stop on Nov. 4, 1932. On that date, President Herbert Hoover, racing at a feverish pace across the country in a valiant but ultimately vain attempt to secure reelection, made a disappointingly quick stop at the Alton Depot. His train was running late that day, so he barely had time to say, “Ladies and gentlemen,” before the train pulled away, making it necessary for several Pekinites to race down the track in order to try to give bouquets of flowers to the First Lady.

for the last few weeks, President Hoover’s whistle stop has been featured in a display in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room, along with articles and mementos on President Abraham Lincoln’s Pekin connections and the Pekin visits of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and Vice President George H. W. Bush. The display will be exhibited through the end of this month.

President Herbert Hoover's campaign whistle stop at the Alton depot in Pekin in 1932 has been featured in a exhibit on Pekin's "presidential" connections that has been on display in the Pekin Public Library's Local History Room this month.

President Herbert Hoover’s campaign whistle stop at the Alton depot in Pekin in 1932 has been featured in a exhibit on Pekin’s “presidential” connections that has been on display in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room this month.

#alton-depot, #b-o-railroad, #chicago-alton-railroad, #f-f-mcnaughton, #herbert-hoover, #kiwanis-trip-to-washington, #pekin-kiwanis-club

Kiwanis trip to D.C.: ‘On Our Way’

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton used his daily “Editor’s Letter” newspaper column to chronicle the weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., that the Pekin Kiwanis Club and a party of Peoria teachers took in June 1932. Here is the first “log entry,” headlined “ON OUR WAY” and published on the front page of the June 13, 1932 Pekin Daily Times.

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Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton in 1979. PHOTO FROM LOCAL HISTORY ROOM COLLECTION

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton in 1979. PHOTO FROM LOCAL HISTORY ROOM COLLECTION

As this is being read by those of you who get your papers in the evening, I am trying to write you another letter on my knees.

I don’t mean that I am on my knees.

But the letter I am writing is on my knees.

We are on our way to Washington.

Some 200 of us left Tazewell county this noon over the Alton with a nice send-off from the Broadway depot of the Alton in Pekin.

We followed the circuitous route of the Alton to Bloomington and from there we rolled over the main line of the Alton to Chicago.

We are about due in Chicago as the average reader is picking up his paper this June Monday afternoon at 5 o’clock.

We might as well set our clocks ahead right now for Chicago goes on daylight saving time which is eastern standard time.

So we’ll be on time an hour ahead of yours the rest of the week.

That means that daylight will leave pretty early in the evening.

So this means the night’s sleep will not be overly long. Daylight will come at an hour earlier than usual, and into the day coach the light will pour at this midsummer dawn, wakening all of us.

I shall try to post a short note to you from Chicago tonight, then maybe wire you a few lines from the east for tomorrow.

By the way, a couple tips.

If you haven’t filed your claims at the Farmers National bank, better do so this evening, and be sure to do so by tomorrow.

Another tip. There is to be a tax on motor oil go on a week from today – 4c a gallon. But it is not on yet this week.

Well, we’ll be wiring you.

#alton-depot, #f-f-mcnaughton, #kiwanis-trip-to-washington, #pekin-kiwanis-club