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Thompson, Oscar T. / Home town : some chapters in reminiscence
(May 1942)

Chapter 10,   pp. 16-17 PDF (582.3 KB)

Page 16

Coodhue and Blodgett saw mill.
This was a frame mill and burned
down many years ago when I was
a young lad. This old Turtle mill
race has been filled up and no
longer exists.
I remember another old struc-
ture of the early days. This was a
big frame building, the Leonard
tannery, located about where the
Wright & Wagner property now is.
Later Josiah Leonard went into
making gloves and mittens, and
the Beloit Glove & Mitten factory
is still running on Cross st., oppo-
site the N. W. depot.
Chapter 10
The railroad first came to Be-
loit in 1853. It was a branch line
run up from Belvidere by the
Chicago and Galena R. R., which
was building a line from Chicago
to Galena and the Mississippi
River. This line was the nucleus
of the present C. & N.W. R.R.
company. The depot was built in
the south end of town and the
depot building straddled the state
line. The freight house door had
two signs, one on each side. North
of the door the sign read "Wis-
consin;" south of the door the
sign read "Illinois."  This little
old depot continued in service till
about 1872 when the little red
brick passenger station was built
on the west side at Grand avenue.
The old original depot is still in
existence now, owned and occu-
pied by Hobbs Fuel company.
In 1855 the railroad crossed the
river and continued on up 5th
street to Evansville and Madison
This Beloit line was the first rail-
road to touch Wisconsin soil.
In the sixties the railroad loco-
motive was a small "teapot" affair
in comparison to the giant loco-
motives of the present time. They
were all wood burners. Large
piles of cord wood, sawed to short
lengths, were kept on hand at
fueling stations and the wood was
thrown into the tender by hand.
I believe water was pumped into
the water tank by horse power.
Windmills came later. Each loco-
motive had an enormous flaring
smokestack and a big cow catcher
sticking far out in front. In those
days cows frequently got on the
track. The rails were not bolted
at the joints by fish plates, so
often they worked loose and the
rails came apart. Hence quite fre-
quently the train "ran off the
In the early days of the sixties
and seventies Broad street was
generally conceded to be the best
residence street in the city. And
it was a fine street. It was extra
wide and had fine big elm trees
on each side. Many of the older
and better known families lived
in this street. I can name a con-
siderable number, but not all, of
course. There were the Hendleys,
Roods, Gordons, Sherwoods, Car-
penters, Fosters, Todds, Baileys,
Houstons, Keelers, Dows, Heivleys,
Messers, Blazers, Dr. Clinton
Helms and Parsons Johnsons. They
used to claim that if you did not
live in Broad street you were not
of the elite of the city. No doubt
this induced Mr. Yates and Mr
Forbes to build their fine homes
in this street. But how have the
mighty fallen! Today it is known
as automobile row, and all the old
time residents are either dead or
have abandoned the street.
Notwithstanding the claims of
the Broad streeters, there were
many notable homes in other parts
of the city. On the east side there
were the Frank Davis home on
College  avenue, Dr. Chapin's
home facing the campus, the
Broder house on Chapin and Wis-
consin, the Shepard house on "the
avenue," now Hillcrest, the Wa-
terman house facing the park and
the J. T. Johnson house on E.
Grand, and others.
On the west side there was and
still is the fine old home of the L.
C Hyde family which has come
down through three generations
First L. C. Hyde, then his daugh-
ter, Mrs. Brittan, and now his
granddaughter, Mrs. Rockwell,
lived there. The first house west
of Hyde's place was the T. W.
Laramie home and first house east
was the C. D. Winslow home. At

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