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Prairie PatrimonyFamily, Farming, and Community in the Midwest$
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Sonya Salamon

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780807845530

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469611181_Salamon

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The Community Context

The Community Context

(p.57) Three The Community Context
Prairie Patrimony

Sonya Salamon

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows how railroad companies such as the Illinois Central created a uniform system for the location and design of Midwestern towns. Regularly spaced along the rail line, the towns were laid out in a grid on either side of the tracks. Even the names of village streets are the same along the Illinois Central route. The pattern of a main business street, grain elevator, and residential side streets repeats itself throughout the Midwest. Some towns predated the railroads, but the eventual spacing was designed to extract profits efficiently from the agricultural hinterlands. Yankees, who were the primary town developers, viewed towns as a way to organize local trade and to attract real estate investment, which was a business itself. Although the villages initially looked alike, a unique community identity emerged under the combined influence of ethnicity, settlement, and environment.

Keywords:   railroad companies, Illinois Central, ethnicity, Midwestern towns, settlement

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