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DuPre’, Mike / Century of stories : a 100 year reflection of Janesville and surrounding communities

1900-1909: All aboard the, twentieth century,   pp. X-15

Page [1]

Janesville bustles with business as century born
The 20th century dawned on a Janes-
ville that was bustling with industry and
commerce, a city that worked hard with
its hands and its head, a city very differ-
ent but still much the same as today's
The community was 65 years old, still very
much the city that grew from an agricultural
village but a city that was building the industry
that would sustain it and propel it forward in
the decades to come.
Janesville was a major rail hub, and rail-
roads were at the heart of the city's industry
and the commerce that it supported.
In 1902, 64 passenger trains arrived and
departed daily at the city's depots. In addition,
countless freight trains brought in raw materi-
als for the city's factories and hauled finished
products to markets from coast to coast.
Many of the city's 13,000-plus residents
worked on the railroads-passenger, freight
and the interurban line that linked southern
Wisconsin and northern Illinois cities.
The Janesville Gazette ran a regular column
of railroad news under the standing headline
Link and Pin. Janesville voters saw and heard
many presidential candidates because the
whistle-stop was the chief campaign tool of
the time.
Left: Workers remove stumps while clearing th
site for the Colvin Baking Co. on Milwauke
Street in Janesville in 1906. The steeple of S1
Mary's Church dominated the city's skyline.
Right: Theodore Roosevelt makes a speech froF
the back of a train during a whistlestop tour tha
passed through Janesville near the turn of th
century. Being a rail hub, Janesville was a pop,
lar stop for many politicians.
Trains brought the world-good and bad-
to Janesville.
Traveling shows enhanced the city's enter-
tainment and culture. Performers at the Myers
Grand Opera House included stars of vaude-
ville and the New York stage.
But sharpies, smoothies and grifters also
arrived by rail and lightened the wallets of
gullible locals through artful cons. Restless
youth and faithless spouses rode the trains to
run from Janesville.
Railroads made Janesville's economy pulse
with money and work, but the tracks exacted
a price in blood and bone.
Hardly a month went by that the Gazette
did not report a local person killed on the rails
or maimed by the loss of a limb.
The United States was still
rawboned in the 20th
century's first decade.
The conquest
of the West
was still fresh
in the
United States was entering its own imperialistic
phase. It just won the Spanish-American War
and inherited a rebellion and jungle warfare in
the former Spanish colony of the Philippine
The Janesville Gazette periodically report-
ed the return of veterans from the Philippine
Workers nationwide endured terrible work-
ing conditions under the robber barons of
industry, and the workers struggled to organ-
ize unions to fight for their rights.
Violence was common-but not in Janes-
Elsewhere, workers fought with goon squads
hired by companies to break up the fledgl-
ing unions. In 1900, when the young women

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