This good brass switch key is from the Illinois Central Railroad. It dates from the early 1900s, approximately the 1920s-1940s.
It has ICRR stamped on one side of its bow in tall block letters. On the opposite side is stamped the letter "S" for switch, the serial number 71484 and an OVERSIZE mark of its maker ADLAKE. This larger mark is further documentation of the period it is from.
CONDITION is excellent with signs of use. The back side stamping shows wear from fingers, but the ICRR is strong and distinct. The ends of the bit and barrel are rounded.
The Illinois Central is one of the more fabled, famous American trains. Sometimes called the Main Line of Mid-America, it was one of the earliest Class I railroads in the U.S. It operated in the central United States, with its primary routes connecting Chicago, Illinois, to New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama. An early line also connected Chicago with Sioux City, Iowa, and there was a significant branch to Omaha, Nebraska , west of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and another branch reaching Sioux Falls, South Dakota, starting from Cherokee, Iowa. Most people will think of it from the song "City of New Orleans" written by Steve Goodman in 1970 in honor of its famous name train.
An interesting segment of the ICRR's history is that it was chartered by the Illinois General Assembly on February 10, 1851 after successful lobbying efforts by Senator Stephen Douglas and later Abraham Lincoln (who would later be elected President). Douglas owned land near the terminal in Chicago. Lincoln was a lawyer for the railroad. Upon its completion in 1856 the ICRR was the longest railroad in the world.
The IC ran for many years, beginning in 1851, until finally the Canadian National Railway acquired control of it in 1998.
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