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In the year 1848, Mr. William Green, of Chicago, bought a tract of land containing 200 acres, for which he paid $100 per acre, making a sum total of $20,000. Of this tract he has already sold, as follows:
In 1855, a plot, for .
"1856, 150 acres, for
and he has lots left, with a front of 1700 feet, worth $100 per foot, amounting to
Thus, within eight years, he made, with a capital of $20,000, a profit of $860 000! Where else, in another country, can such a result be even approximated to?
THE LANDS OF THE ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY.
ON the 20th of September, 1850, the Congress of the United States passed a law by which two millions five hundred and ninety-five thousand acres of the public lands were granted to the State of Illinois for railroad purposes; and on the 10th of February, 1851, the Illinois Central Railroad Company was incorporated by an act of the " Legislature of the State of Illinois, and the whole of the immense tract of land before-mentioned was granted to the company, to aid in the construction of the railroad projected by it.
By this grant of lands, and the consequent construction of the railroad, that new era has been opened for Illinois, which manifests itself in the unparalleled growth of its population and in its great wealth. This road intersects the entire State from north to south: running, first in two branches, viz., from Chicago to Centralia, and from Dunleith to Centralia; and then, in but one branch from Centralia to Cairo. The great prairies of Central Illinois, so particularly distinguished for the rich fertility of their soil, but hitherto lying entirely uncultivated and almost wholly excluded from the markets by the want of means of communication, have thus been rendered accessible to cultivation.
However speculative the construction of a railroad seven hundred and four miles in length, and through a territory almost entirely uncultivated, may at first have appeared, the excellence of the great undertaking is fully demonstrated by the immense advantages already derived from it. Not only is it true that the Central Railroad Company is doing a splendid business, and that the bonds issued by it are commanding pretty high rates, as compared with other railroad bonds, but it is also a fact, that by the construction of this road, those vast
LANDS OF THE CENTRAL RAILROAD.
and desert prairie-lands have been transformed into well-cultivated farms, which are now annually contributing many millions of bushels of excellent grain to the general produce of the State, and still present the prospect of much larger crops in future; and, moreover, the population of the State has been increased by the addition of thousands of industrious and enterprising citizens, who are mostly farmers. The State of Illinois has thus came to be ranked among the most important States of the Union.
The lands of the company extend themselves on both sides of the road, in a breadth of thirty miles, so that it mostly runs through the middle of them. The greater part of these lands are well-watered and intersected by creeks, and where such are wanting, good water may be obtained by digging to the depth of a few feet below the surface.
A kind of loam, well suited for the manufacture of bricks, is frequently found near the surface; and bituminous coal, which, as has been already mentioned, underlies almost the entire State of Illinois, is found at several points of the railroad, furnishing a very excellent and cheap fuel. The soil, to a depth of about five feet, is of a rich black substance, with a surface partly undulating or rolling, and partly level, and well adapted to all the various branches of agriculture and cattle-breeding. In some parts, there is a fine growth of oak and
Besides all the above advantages, the farmers who settle on these lands have still another great benefit, in their immediate, or at least very near, connexion with the State's mighty artery of intercommunication, by which they are enabled, without the slightest difficulty, to forward their products to the markets, and there to realize good prices for them.
Of the 2,595,000 acres which were granted to the Illinois Central Railroad Company, 528,863.11 acres were sold, in the short space of seventeen months, namely, from August, 1854, up to the 31st day of December, 1855, and brought the sum of $5,598,577.83.
Since the 1st of January, 1856, there have been sold, in each month respectively, as follows:
So that on the 1st of December, 1856, 819,138.60 acres were already sold for $10,033,486.54; leaving only 1,775,861.40 for future purchasers.
These extraordinarily rapid sales, - this unexampled sudden transformation of such a large territory, hitherto lying in a wild and uncultivated state, into luxuriant cornfields, inviting farms and fruitful orchards, must not be attributed solely to the location and fertility of the land, but also, in as great a measure, to the unequalled and ready facilities that are afforded to the owner and cultivator by the Illinois Central Railroad Company. The same advantages are still offered, and persons, even with limited means, may yet acquire valuable property, and thus come to enjoy wealth and independence within a comparatively short time.
Influenced by these reasons, hundreds of people are weekly coming from the Eastern States to Chicago, because they have become discouraged with the hard and unenriching labour bestowed on eastern land, and now choose rather to apply their energies and industry to the productive virgin soil of Illinois. In the morning, long before the hour of opening, the doors of the Illinois Central Railroad Company's Land Office, at Chicago, are thronged with people; and when opened, the office is soon densely filled with eager purchasers. It is not a trifling business of everyday life, such as a stranger to these scenes might suppose, that is here daily transacted, but lands to the value of hundreds of thousands of dollars in their monthly aggregate are disposed of.
The settlement of these lands, which has been accelerated as if by a stroke of magic, is made on the following conditions : The Com
pany requires no payment of purchase-money during the first two years from the day of purchase; and further, a long credit is given to the purchaser, while the interest on the purchase-money does not exceed three per cent. per annum.
The prices vary from $5 to $25 per acre, according to the quality and location of the lands, whether they lie next to, or more distant from, the railroad, towns, or town-sites.
The first instalment of the purchase-money, being one-fifth, becomes due at the expiration of two years from the time when the contract was made; another fifth at the close of each subsequent year, with three per cent. interest: so that the last instalment will become due at the end of six years.
The interest for each ensuing year is paid in advance, upon making the first, second, third, and fourth payments. The interest for the first two years is to be paid upon making the contract.
The purchaser is obligated to cultivate at least one-tenth of his land every year; and upon making the last payment of instalments he will be entitled to a deed in fee simple.
Purchasers who are willing to pay six per cent. interest may enjoy a longer credit. An allowance or deduction of twenty per cent will be made on cash-payments; and the construction-bonds of the company will be taken, and considered as equivalent to cash.
Now, let us suppose a purchase of 80 acres, at $10 per acre, to be made on the 1st of May, 1857, the payments on the same would then run as follows:
May 1, 1857. Received contract for a deed for 80 acres of land,
at $10 per acre ($800), and paid two year's interest, at 3 per cent. per annum, in advance, 1859. Paid first instalment of principal, being one-fifth