Sandburg's Hometown

May 19, 2014

C B & Q Passenger Depot, Galesburg, IL. Built 1883-84.

Rhythms of the Railroad

by Barbara Schock

When Carl Sandburg was born on January 6, 1878, his parents lived within two blocks of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad tracks. As a babe in arms, he may have felt the vibration and heard the noise of the passing trains.

His father August was in the railroad’s blacksmith shop when the CB&Q steam whistle blew at 7 am, starting the work day. At noon and 1 pm the whistle sounded for the main meal of the day. Most people called it dinner rather than lunch. August Sandburg walked home to eat his meal and walked back to work. At 6 o’clock the whistle blew again ending the day’s manual labor all over town. The stores on Main street remained open until a later hour.

More than just the railroad workers were accustomed to the regular pattern of the CB&Q steam whistle. It told other citizens of Galesburg to get up, eat meals and finish work for the day.

The whistle in the railroad yard as well as those of other factories, were used on other occasions. When World War I ended on November 11, 1918, the whistles started blowing about 4 am
and blasted away for hours in celebration. There was no more sleeping for anybody that day.

As a boy, Sandburg went to the railroad depot to watch people coming and going. He became acquainted with hoboes and tramps who frequented the rail yard. He learned the difference among hoboes, tramps and bums.

When the circus had advertised that it was coming to perform in Galesburg, Carl was up at the crack of dawn. He would watch the animals and wagons being unloaded from the rail cars. Often he would help carry water for the elephants or boards for the viewing stands in the big tent in order to earn a free ticket to the show.

At the age of sixteen Sandburg was allowed to use his father’s railroad pass. He went to Peoria, all of fifty miles away. He was able to see the Illinois State Fair and the steamboats on the Illinois River. It inspired in him a desire to travel even farther.

All his life Carl Sandburg preferred trains to other forms of travel. He grew up with trains and he knew they could take one to interesting and exciting places.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
May 19, 2014 Rhythms of the Railroad
May 12, 2014 Spring Tonic
May 5, 2014 The Milkmen
April 28, 2014 Gray's "Elegy..."
April 21, 2014 Off to War
April 14, 2014 Swedish Easter
April 7, 2014 A Father's Face
March 31, 2014 Secret Societies
March 24, 2014 George A. Murdock, Merchant
March 10, 2014 Trade Cards
March 3, 2014 The Demorest Medal
February 24, 2014 Rip Van Winkle
February 17, 2014 Cabbage Soup
February 10, 2014 Lincoln's Birthday
February 3, 2014  The Colonel
January 27, 2014 The Lincoln Penny - A Little History
January 20, 2014 Walking to Work
January 13, 2014  A Small Abode
January 6, 2014 Birth of a Poet
December 30, 2013 Christmas 1880
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013  Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013  Lace Curtains 
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity