Dwight, Illinois is a small town located in the heart of Livingston County. Despite its size, the area around Dwight has played host to many significant events throughout Illinois history. Below are seven notable historical events that have taken place near Dwight, Illinois.
1. Abraham Lincoln's famous debates with Stephen Douglas
In the fall of 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas went head to head in a series of debates about slavery and the future of the United States. On August 21st, 1858 they debated in nearby Ottawa, Illinois. These debates led up to Lincoln's eventual presidency in 1860.
2. The Lincoln Funeral Procession
On May 3, 1865, the funeral procession of President Abraham Lincoln passed through Dwight. As a solemn tribute to the 16th President, his funeral train, called The United States, traveled over 8,000 miles from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois. The train made stops in various cities along the way, including Dwight.
3. The Dwight State Bank Robbery
On October 5, 1933, John Dillinger and his gang robbed the Dwight State Bank. During the robbery, several hostages were taken, and gunfire was exchanged with local law enforcement. The robbers ultimately escaped with over $77,000 in cash and bonds.
4. The Coal City Tornado
On June 2, 1990, a massive tornado touched down near Coal City, a town just northeast of Dwight. The twister was the third most powerful tornado in Illinois history and caused significant damage to surrounding towns.
5. The Dwight Railroad Station
The Dwight Railroad Station was constructed in 1891 and stands as a prime example of the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style. The station saw significant traffic during the golden age of rail travel in the early 1900s. Today, it serves as a museum and a significant attraction for history buffs.
6. Influence of the Illinois and Michigan Canal
In the early 19th century, the Illinois and Michigan Canal played a significant role in the economic boom of the Midwest. The canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and ran through Dwight. This waterway revolutionized the movement of goods and services throughout the Midwest and is considered a significant milestone in American history.
7. Route 66
Route 66, the iconic highway that ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, passed through Dwight. Route 66 has become a nostalgic symbol of a generation of Americans, and the stretch that passes through Dwight is one of the most scenic parts of the highway.
In conclusion, Dwight, Illinois, and its surrounding areas have played a significant role in shaping Illinois' history. From presidential debates and funerals to revolutionizing transportation and iconic highways, the town and the region have been at the epicenter of many prominent American stories.
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