I have blogged before about the Monticello Railway Museum, one of our local hidden treasures. A couple of years back they completed a project to build a replica interlocking tower, named for Richard P. Stair, a now-deceased long-time volunteer. It contains two different styles of original Illinois Central interlocking machines, salvaged from Gibson City, IL and Tuscola, IL.
On some weekends you can get a tour of the interlocking tower, where one of the volunteers will explain how the system works. An interlocking machine is really a kind of analog computer, with connections between the levers that will move multiple switches to guarantee that two trains do not attempt to occupy the same segment of track at the same time. The volunteers, many of whom used to work for various railroads, will also be happy to tell you that the Stair Tower is much too clean and much too comfortable, a dandified version of the dirty and drafty places they used to work. 🙂
When she was a teenager, my wife and her family would regularly drive past a sign on Illinois 47 south of Mahomet which indicated an historical marker down a country road to the west. A few weeks ago she decided she wanted to go find it, and of course I brought the camera with me.
As it turns out, there’s much more to this marker than there may at first appear. It’s one of a series that was was erected in 1922 and 1923 by the Daughters of the American Revolution on the border between each county that once comprised the Eighth Judicial Circuit, following a reconstruction of the route that Abraham Lincoln and his fellow lawyers would have traveled from courthouse to courthouse. A corresponding series of markers was placed at each courthouse, or on the site where Lincoln’s courthouse once stood. (I have found the marker at the Urbana courthouse but I don’t have a picture yet.)
An article containing much more history and maps locating the markers is available and supplies all the deficiencies in this blog post. 🙂