The Illinois Central Railroad
Historian and former Champaign mayor Dan McCollum discusses the arrival of the Illinois Central Railroad in 1854. The town that grew up around the tracks originally was called West Urbana. It was renamed Champaign after the town took action to acquire a city charter in 1860. The city and county names were derived from Champaign County, Ohio. About 10,000 men worked at any one time on the rail line. The depot, called Urbana Station, was built in time for the first train to arrive July 24, 1854.