Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Depot, Wyoming Illinois
Wyoming, Illinois was established in 1834 by General Samuel Thomas. Thomas was born in Connecticut and had been a resident of Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania. The town was charted on April 2, 1836. Although the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Depot was not built in Wyoming until 1871, the railroad had been established in 1855 in order to create a transportation link between Chicago and the Mississippi River at Quincy, Illinois and Burlington, Iowa. The final connection to the River was completed in 1856. In 1871, when the railroad built the Wyoming, Illinois depot, there were 893 miles of track. A second railroad, the Peoria and Rock Island Railroad, was also sought by Wyoming citizens. The Peoria and Rock Island was organized in 1867 and consolidated with the Rock Island & Pacific Railroad in 1869.
In June of 1871, it dispatched a construction train to Toulon, and one month later the first regular train went through Wyoming. The Rock Island Railroad depot, which originally stood 200' west of the C,B,& Q depot, is no longer standing. Although the two railroads contributed to the economic development of the community, the C,B, & Q depot is the sole surviving railroad structure in the community. The C,B, & Q railroad was an important shipping link for the greater Wyoming area. Like most service towns in agricultural regions in Illinois the citizens of Wyoming recognized the need for a railroad to transport its rich coal deposits, cheese, grain, cattle, hogs, and other products to Peoria and Chicago markets. Without the rail connections, the agricultural development of Stark County would have been minimal because the cost of getting the product to market by back roads would have been too great. The railroad was also a critical necessity for Wyoming because Illinois River transportation to Chicago was unreliable due to its limited depth and freezing over in the winter.
Farmers could not have responded quickly enough to changes in the market prices for commodities. Professional businessmen in Wyoming, like Dr. Alred Castle, M.D., offered the C,B, & Q a forty acre field of flax in order to entice the railroad to come to Wyoming. As a result of this commitment the railroad connection on this part of the line was known as the "Castle-Flax Road."
The demand for the C,B, & Q Railroad line and interest in it was as intense as the rivalry for the location of the depot itself. Records indicate that it was in at least three different locations in Wyoming during the first ten years. It was constructed at the north part of town in 1871. Mr. A. J. Hammond was an officer in the bank known as Scott, Wrigley, & Hammond Bank (which once stood at the southwest corner of Williams and Seventh Streets.) He sent two pictures to the C,B, & Q Railroad: one of a nearly empty north side business district, the other of a bustling south side of town. Shortly thereafter the C,B, & Q moved the depot from the north side of town to the south side in 1880.
In 1871 an important law case occurred which had a direct economic impact on the farmers and businessmen of Wyoming and other cities along the C,B, & Q line. The landmark case of Neal Ruggles v. C,B, & Q Railroad over the variable rates that the railroad charged different customers went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. The Court decided that the legislature had the right to fix reasonable maximum rates the C,B, & Q could charge all of its customers. This decision in turn affected all railroads in Illinois and put the Wyoming farmers on equal footing with the largest factories in town.
The depot was the transportation hub for the coal mines in Stark County, for the grain that was shipped by the farmers, for the cheese that was produced, and for the farm implement dealers and boiler manufacturers in Wyoming. Passenger and mail service also linked Wyoming with the rest of the country. By 1875 the C,B, & Q was shipping significant quantities of freight from Wyoming. For the year ending March 31, 1875, the total freight was 296,446 pounds of way freight, 728 cars of grain, 114 cars of stock, and one car of hay generating a total of $25,478.55 in railroad revenue. The depot continued to provide a state and national market for Wyoming's goods; for example, the Foster Feather factory opened in 1895 and sent its feathers by rail all over the country.
Wyoming continued to prosper into the 20th century as evidenced by many of the commercial buildings in the central business district which date from 1890 to 1915. Although the figures for the community's contribution to the railroad's revenues are not known, general revenue for the railroad increased from $9,519,994 in 1890 to over $43,000,000 in 1925. It is certain that Wyoming's contribution also increased during this period. Growth in the C,B, & Q Railroad itself during the early 20th century made it possible for Wyoming's goods to reach even more markets. During World War I the miles of track increased to 3,163 miles, and the maximum number of miles of track reached 3,703 miles in 1925. Although train service continued until the 1960s, Wyoming's economic growth stabilized by the 1930s. The railroad's impact was most significant prior to this period.
The Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad Depot in Wyoming, Illinois is located adjacent to the abandoned Burlington-Northern railroad right-of-way and perpendicular to Williams Street. The depot is a one-story wood frame building measuring 24' by 64'. It has an over-hanging gable roof with diagonal braces and a central chimney. An earthen ramp with plank sides rises approximately 2' at the south freight door entrance. The entire building sets on telephone poles embedded in the ground. There is a crawl space under the building.
The exterior walls are covered with board and batten siding from the window sill level to the roofline. The boards are 12" by 1" planks with a routed 1" x 2" x 1/4' vertical batten. Below the windows, the walls are covered with horizontal ship-lapped boards. The corners are delineated by vertical boards. The decorative braces below the overhanging eaves are embellished with pendants.
Exterior windows are a 6 over 6, double-hung design, one on the north wall, four on the west wall, and two on the east wall. Window frames are 1" x 4" boards that provide a drip edge and crude sill. Two doors with transom windows on the east wall open into the waiting room and ticket office. Three large freight doors enter the baggage and freight room on the south end of the depot. The baggage doors facing east and west have transom windows, diagonal paneling, and horizontal braces.
The floor plan of the depot is divided into three spaces: a waiting room at the north end, a relatively narrow ticket office, and a large baggage and freight room at the south end. The waiting room and office are finished in horizontal tongue and groove paneling above the window sill line and vertical paneling below. A head rail and baseboard finish the wall surfaces. The original ceilings have been covered with a dropped panel ceiling in the office and waiting room. A door and window access the ticket office from the waiting room. The window served as the ticket window. One chimney between the office and waiting room served to vent the coal-fired iron stoves located on either side of the wall. A two-step stair leads from the ticket office to the baggage and freight room. This room is sided with horizontal planks and an open rafter ceiling.