Rock Island - Encyclopedia

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ROCK ISLAND, a city and the county-seat of Rock Island county, Illinois, U.S.A., in the N.W. part of the state, on the E. bank of the Mississippi river, adjoining Moline, and opposite Davenport, Iowa (with which it is connected by two bridges), about 3 m. above the mouth of the Rock river, and at the foot of Rock Island rapids, which extend for nearly 16 m. Pop. (1890) 13,634; (1900) 19,493, of whom 4412 were foreign-born; (1910) 24,335. It is served by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, and the Davenport, Rock Island & North-Western railways. Near the city, at the mouth of Rock river, the "Hennepin" (or Illinois & Mississippi) canal joins the Mississippi river. The city occupies a plain lying between the river and a series of bluffs. The island of Rock Island, a ridge of limestone rock about 3 m. long and 1 m. wide, is connected with the mainland by bridges to Rock Island and Moline; on it there are a Federal arsenal, the most important in the country for the manufacture of small-arms, gun carriages and artillery equipment, a Federal armoury and a national cemetery; the island is connected with the Illinois shore at Moline by a dam, whence good waterpower is derived. In the city are: a public library (1872), the Augustana College and Theological Seminary (controlled by the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod of North America; co-educational), which was founded as Augustana Seminary in Chicago in 1860 chiefly for the education of Swedish Lutheran clergymen, was removed to Paxton, Illinois, in 1863 and to Rock Island in 1875, and received its present name in 1869; and the principal offices of the Modern Woodmen of the World, a fraternal society, founded in 1884 and having 219,729 members in 1909. The city has a large trade by water and rail; commercially it forms a unit with Davenport and Moline. Among the city's manufactures are lumber, agricultural implements, flour, glass, stoves, carriages, soap,. &c. In 1905 the value of the factory product was $5,332,967. Some coal is mined in the county.

On the north bank of the Rock river, 3 m. from its mouth, there was a large summer village (sometimes called Saukenuk) of the Sauk Indians, built about 1730 and destroyed in 1831; and near the mouth of the Rock river is a bluff called "Black Hawk's watch-tower." A settlement on the island was made in 1816, when the fort was built; the first settlement on the mainland was made in 1826. In 1841 the town of Rock Island was formed by the consolidation of two small settlements. named Stephenson and Farnhamsburg and was incorporated; it received a city charter in 1849. Upon the west end of the island the United States government in 1816 built Fort Armstrong, where on the 21st of September 1832, at the close of the Black Hawk War, a treaty of peace was signed by General Winfield Scott and Governor John Reynolds of Illinois and by the chiefs of the Sauk and Foxes, and where, six days before, General Scott and Governor Reynolds had made a treaty with the Winnebagoes. The fort was abandoned in 1836 and was burned in 1855; a monument now marks its site. The Rock Island armoury and arsenal, under an act of 1862, were built in 1863, when a number of captured Confederate soldiers were confined on the island.

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