The Illinois and Michigan Canal was completed in 1848 It provided both freight and passenger service between Chicago and LaSalle, Illinois.
In February, 1847, the Rock Island and LaSalle Railroad was chartered by the State of Illinois. Its purpose was to be a feeder to the canal. Thus service was to be established between the Mississippi River and Chicago. In 1851, an amendment to the charter was granted by the state. This allowed for extension of the railroad to Chicago.
Railroad construction began in 1851. The Chicago to Joliet link was completed in 1852. Passenger and freight service was provided on this route. West construction was completed to Rock Island by 1854. This put the railroad in direct competition with the I and M canal. As a result of this, passenger service soon ended on the canal. The railroad also competed for freight service. It was operational year round. It was faster than canal boats.
In 1866, the railroad reorganized as the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Line. At its peak, service was provided to 14 states. However the future or the road was bleak. . It filed for bankruptcy in in 1932 and 1975.
Passenger service between Chicago and Peoria (through Joliet) ended in 1979. The Rock Island shut down completely in 1980. In 1978, RTA took over passenger service between Joliet and Chicago. CSX acquired ownership of the track west of the DesPlaines River. It provides freight service on this line.