Learn about Rock Island with this interactive map.
Producer: Jim Bickal
Associate Producer: Julie Siple
Online editor: Bob Collins
Broadcast editor: Stephen Smith
Art director: Ben Tesch
Production supervisor: Michael Wells
A Mighty Good Road|
October 10, 2002
By Jim Bickal, Minnesota Public Radio
On October 15, 1852, the first train of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad traveled from Chicago to Joliet, Illinois. Two years later it would bring a delegation of East Coast journalists and dignitaries to the Mississippi River as part of the Grand Excursion to Minnesota. Over the next 50 years, as the Rock Island Line grew, it carried passengers and freight through 14 states and became part of the story of the American west. Then it inspired a song that has been passed from generation to generation. Minnesota Public Radio's Jim Bickal has traced the stories of the song and the railroad and discovered that together they tell quite a tale.
Follow the travels of the song and the story with our Rock Island route map.
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Folk Music History: How do you think the story of this folk song relates to the history of America?