Rock Island Railroad paralleled the course of the Illinois Michigan Canal. The construction of the railroad began in Chicago in October, 1851. The first train between Chicago and Joliet ran on October, 1852. The line was extended to LaSalle and reached Rock Island in February, 1854.
From the beginning, it provided competition with the Illinois Michigan Canal. It was responsible for the demise of canal passenger service. It was more rapid and could operate year round.
For years the train line and the I and M Canal were engaged in heated competition for freight service.
The existing Rock Island Depot in Morris is actually the second depot. It was completed in 1900. It was restored by the Morris Community Foundation in 2000. It currently serves as the Grundy Chamber of Commerce.
The Rock Island Depot in Ottawa was built in 1908. It is still standing. It is currently used as a maintenance building by CSX.
The Rock Island Depot in Marseilles was built in 1917. It required a 40 year legal battle to have the old wooden 1867 building replaced with a newer structure. The depot was in service until 1974. It was sold to a private business in 1984.
The structure was designed and built by T.S. Peak–a Chicago Builder. It was added to the National Historic Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1995.