How we started 

Barnett's House of Fireplaces
1620 5th Ave
Moline, IL 61265

DeGreve Oil Change
2777 18 St
Bettendorf, IA 52722

DeGreve Oil Change
3400 State St
Bettendorf, IA 52722

DeGreve Oil Change
3900 N Pine
Davenport, IA

DeGreve Oil change
2125 53 St
Moline, IL 61265

DeGreve Oil Change
1618 38 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

DeGreve Oil change
3560 N Brady St
Davenport, IA

1305 5 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Pratt's Antiques
125 E Main St
Aledo, IL 61231

Main St Antiques
114 E Main St
Aledo, IL 61231

Conner Co
PO Box 888
East Moline, IL 61244

Kimball Cleaners
308 SW 5th Ave
Aledo, IL 61231

Williams Studio
New Windsor, IL 61465

Andalusia, IL 61232

Hideaway Plastics
1801 17 St
PO Box 379
Viola, IL 61486

Deer & Co Credit Union
3950 38 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

2018 4 Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

Walcott Trust & Savings Bank
101 W Bryant St
PO Box 108
Walcott, IA 52773

Mississippi Laser
7700 47 St
Milan, IL 61264

Longs Carpet
4200 11 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Roth Pump
Box 4330
Rock Island, IL 61201

Hughes Telephone
1117 Blackhawk Rd
Rock Island, IL 61201

River runs through Moline, R.I. history
Even today, industry tied to Mississippi

By Carol Loretz, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

Click here for larger view.
Veterans of the Civil War march down Rock Island's 2nd Avenue during the 1902 encampment of the GAR, the Grand Army of the Republic.
ROCK ISLAND -- Rock Island's story may have begun 300 million years ago when it was covered by a shallow sea, but its current character reflects the waters of the Mississippi River.

The subsequent retreat of the glaciers brought the first humans to the river's banks 10,000 years ago, according to Roald Tweet in "Rock Island: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow," edited by Bj Elsner. These prehistoric Indians came for mastadon and mammoth, he said.

Native Americans tried to preserve their way of life after white intruders Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet canoed into the main channel of the Mississippi on June 17, 1673. An Indian treaty with the U.S. government, however, ceded Sauk and Mesquakie land on both shores in 1832.

"White settlement now began in earnest," Mr. Tweet said.

By the next year, he said, settlers had formed a small, unincorporated village called Farnhamsburg, which became part of Stephenson when Rock Island County bought land for a county seat.

In 1839, the town offered 175 homes for 600 people, seven stores, three taverns, three groceries, a two-story courthouse and other businesses, Mr. Tweet said.

"Fueled by immigration, the 1850s became the golden age of steamboating on the Upper Misssissippi," he said. "Growing steamboat traffic increased the need for river improvement, which the United States had already made a federal responsibility."

Although steamboat traffic came to an abrupt halt with the 1861 firing on Fort Sumter, improvements to the river's lock and dam system continue today.

John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry highlighted the vulnerability of eastern arsenals and prompted Congress to construct an arsenal on the large island north of Rock Island and Moline. It has continued to provide jobs.

Click here for larger view.
Photo courtesy the Special Collections, Augustana College Library.
Rock Island became the county seat. This photo shows the construction of the courthouse.
As railroads began moving freight and passengers faster than steamboats, federal lawmakers agreed to tame the Rock Island Rapids, Mr. Tweet said. In 1866, the Army Corps of Engineers opened its Rock Island district, the beginning of a permanent presence on the Mississippi, he said.

Between 1840 and 1872, the milling industry grew from two sawmills to 100 along the Upper Mississippi, according to Mr. Tweet. At their 1884 peak, local mills processed 741,837,000 logs.

As the white pine forests of Minnesota and Wisconsin disappeared, however, the lumber industry focused on the West Coast. In 1915, Mr. Tweet said, the last raft carrying the last white pine logs came down the Mississippi. People gathered along with river to bid an era farewell.

In 1924, International Harvester boosted the Quad-Cities reputation as the farm-equipment capital of the world by buying the Moline Plow Works and manufacturing Farmall tractors in Rock Island, Mr. Tweet said. Case further enhanced that reputation, when it bought the Rock Island Plow Works in 1937.

Not until 1939 did the Rock Island Rapids disappear beneath at least 9 feet of water and river commerce take advantage of the new channel. Diesel towboats pushing lines of barges replaced the steamboat, Mr. Tweet said.

"Looking out on the river today, we see barges passing alongside tourist boats and white sails," he said. "Case and Farmall are gone. The railroad, like the steamboat, flourished and declined in its turn and now the Rock Island Lines depot sits empty under the flight path to a busy Quad City Airport. As in the past, Rock Island is shifting to new industries and occupations."

The vital role the Mississippi River has played in Rock Island's rich history will continue into its future, according to city manager John Phillips' submission to Ms. Elsner's book.

While the river continues to provide important transportation for commerce, it increasingly has become a venue for entertainment and recreation, he said. Casino riverboats are the latest evidence of that prediction.

The city's central location and proximity to large markets will continue to attract growing companies that need such advantages, Mr. Phillips said.

"In recent years, we have seen a shift away from large industry," he said. "The changes have come rapidly, causing a severe and difficult period of adjustment. Our future economy, however, will be more diversified, healthier in the long run."

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.