2. Settler Trails Early trails started to develop into roads as settlers moved into Illinois in the early 1800s. At first the settlers tended to come into Illinois from the south. They might float down the Ohio River and then move north up the Wabash River, the Embarrass River, or the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Some came overland on the "National Road" through Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Vandalia, Illinois was at the end of the National Road. Vandalia was the state capital of Illinois before Springfield. From the Wabash River settlers could travel north along the "Hubbard trail. " It ended in Chicago after passing through the towns of Blue Island, Crete, Grant, Momence, Beaverville, Iroquois, Hoopeston, Myersville, and Danville. It was also called the "Vincennes Trace." In later years, more settlers came to Illinois via northern routes. When the Erie Canal opened in 1825 it created an all- water route from New York City to Chicago. A popular route for travelers was via the "Chicago Road" from Detroit to Chicago.
Early settlers had to be self sufficient because trade goods were expensive. At the same time the prices farmers received for grains and animals were low because it was hard to get products to markets back east. The roads and trails that settlers used were often impassable. Wagon loads of grain would get stuck up to their axles, stage coaches often overturned and swollen rivers were a problem before bridges had been built. Frontier settlers knew about the hardships of travel and were supporters of government improvements.
Early color lithograph of frontier farm family the "Chicago Road" Jim Nugent collection
Old Plank Road Trail
A 22-mile recreation and nature trail in northeastern Illinois
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