RRs & CAHOKIA CR.

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RAILROADS AND CAHOKIA CREEK

 

A discussion of the physical transformations in East St. Louis would be remiss without consideration of the effects the city improvements and railroad expansion had on Cahokia Creek, constantly the bane of railroad and street development throughout the 19th century. Cahokia Creek quite often became backed up by the many trestles and dikes crossing it, and was constantly flooding the island and acting as a feeder for the old river channel located parallel and a few yards to the west.

In the winter of 1861-1862, the confluence of Cahokia Creek and the Mississippi was diverted to the north as part of the railroad improvements of the Pittsburgh Railroad and Coal Company. The Pittsburgh Railroad intended to extend its railroad by way of a dike from its terminus on the old shoreline to the new location of the Mississippi River shoreline that had been altered by the St. Louis harbor improvements. The creek was diverted at a point west of the junction of Market and Main Streets so that it flowed further west, roughly within the old channel of the river, and emptied into the Mississippi about 1200 feet south of Trendley Avenue (Anonymous n.d.:25, cited in Smith and Lange 1980:42). This freed the area for the Pittsburgh Railroad extension as well as for construction a year later of the St. Louis, Alton, and Terre Haute Railroad Roundhouse (Illinoistown Roundhouse), located at the southwest corner of Illinoistown (Smith and Lange 1980:63).

Cahokia Creek was again displaced in the late 19th century when the rail traffic running north-south along the old Illinois shoreline east of the island necessitated the diversion of a segment of the creek between Missouri Avenue and the junction of Market and Main Streets to a location further west. The result of these many diversions of Cahokia Creek is significant in that the site of old Illinoistown, reported to have been located on both sides of the creek prior to about 1850, would have been impacted to a degree as an indirect consequence of the creek movement.

 

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