During the Sycamore & Cortland Railroad’s 24 years of independent operation (1859-1883), the city of Sycamore treated the railroad and each of its depots like public monuments. They were built in a time of extreme frontier competition. The success of the Sycamore & Cortland Railroad attracted new settlers, businesses, and manufacturing interests, which, in turn, attracted more railroads: the Chicago & North Western, the Chicago Great Western, and the electric railroads of the early 20th century. Without the original railroad, Sycamore would have dried up and disappeared, passed over by progress and left to decay on the wild northern Illinois prairie.
Writer and historian Clint Cargile brings Sycamore’s unique railroad history to life. He weaves the story of the Sycamore & Cortland Railroad into the history of the city itself, showing that Sycamore owes its very existence to the five miles of railroad track that served as a gateway to commerce, culture, and a century of American progress.