FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2018
MATTOON – An area historian is set to discuss the building of the Illinois Central Railroad in a program at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mattoon Public Library.
Don Chamberlain, a retired teacher and photographer from Decatur, will discuss the reasons for and challenges in building the first major railroad in Illinois. Among the questions he will address are: “Why was it built? Where it was built? How was it built? How did the state change as a result of its being built?”
Since retiring from teaching, Chamberlain has focused on history and photography. He traveled and photographed the Lewis and Clark trail from Illinois to Oregon; the Mormon Trail; the Santa Fe Trail; the Bozeman Trail; 1,200 miles of the Oregon Trail; the Trail of Tears from northern Georgia to Kentucky and the National Road from Cumberland, Maryland to East St. Louis.
Chamberlain developed the railroad presentation from his interest in and research into the Civil War, about which he completed 11 Road Scholar programs which led to nearly 50 presentations across Illinois. “I knew the importance of the railroads in Illinois history and growth from studying the Civil War,” Chamberlain said.
He further developed the idea after attending the Illinois bicentennial conference last year. Chamberlain said the discussion will be a powerpoint that includes photographs.
The presentation of about 45 minutes is part of the library’s event series.
“Mattoon history and railroads go together,” said library director Carl Walworth. “Thus when Don developed this program on the significance of the railroads in Illinois history it seemed a good fit for our event series.”
The library’s ongoing set of programs features a variety of topics, from religions of the world to developing a robust lawn to a classical guitar performance.