Illinois History Minutes

February 15 Illinois History Minute


It’s February 15th. And Knox College was established on this day in 1837 in the western Illinois town of Galesburg, by the town’s namesake, George Washington Gale. The college name is traced to two different Knoxes, Calvinist leader John Knox and George Washington’s secretary of war, Henry Knox. Knox College hosted one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858. And it was the inspiration for the Old Siwash stories, humorous stories about college life written a century ago by George Fitch.

On this day in 1842, the Illinois state capital welcomed its first railroad train. The train came to Springfield from Meredosia on the tracks of Illinois’ first railroad, the Northern Cross, which would eventually stretch from the Mississippi River to Danville. The route is part of the Norfolk Southern railroad today.