Narrative of a Private Soldier » Travel, 1862 (part 1)

Charles Lewis Francis traveled from Baltimore to Chicago in June of 1862, on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. Here’s what his route would have looked like:

This is based on an 1860 map of the B&O Railroad available online at the Library of Congress. CLF reports that it took nearly 48 hours to make the trip. The same trip on Amtrak today would require a transfer in Washington, D.C., but would arrive in Chicago (on the Capitol Limited) in less than 24 hours, assuming no delays. Wikipedia reports that in 1861-1862, the B&O in the Cumberland valley was subject to disruption due to the war, so this may have added to his journey’s length. Additionally, according to the same Wikipedia article, the railroad bridge over the Ohio at Bellaire (or Bel-air, as CLF reports it) wasn’t completed until 1871, so CLF would have had to disembark in Wheeling, WV, and crossed the Ohio river some other way. CLF also reports passing through Columbus, but it’s not clear exactly which route was taken from there to Chicago. It’s possible that he passed through Dayton, Ohio, near where some of his descendants would one day reside.

It’s likely that CLF arrived in Chicago at the Illinois Central Depot, located where Millenium Station now stands, at the intersection of Madison and Michigan. In 1858, it looked like this:

This is a photo provided by the Chicago Historical Society. The white buildings behind the train tracks are grain elevators. All of this is underground now, under the Art Institute and Millennium Park. Here’s another view of the waterfront station, courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society, from an 1857 “birds-eye view” of the city. Note the train steaming in from the left (South) across what was then a breakwater, but is now Grant Park.

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