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Moline History, Illinois

Moline history is not very old – it dates back to the 18th century when the Sauk and Fox Indians settled by the bank of the Rock River. The early decades of the 19th century, however, saw their peaceful existence in jeopardy with the arrival of white-settlers; things took such an ugly turn that the Indian Chief Black Hawk declared war against the United States in 1832. The defeat of the Indians in this war resulted in their ouster from the region and thereafter it became a community of white-settlers.

Moline History – Mid-1830s to 1900

1837 bears a special significance in Moline history – it was in this fateful year that David B. Sears, along with his associates, completed the construction of the 180 m long stone and brush dam over the Sylvan Slough. The dam proved doubly advantageous for the region – it connected the mainland to the island-settlements and the power generated at the dam provided for the power requirement of the mills and other industries that soon came up in the neighborhood turning it into an industrial township. In 1843, this township was christened ‘Moline’ (derived from the French word ‘moulin’, which meant mill-town, because of the presence of the many mills). The same year, Moline’s first school was set up.

1848 was another important year in Moline history – first the township of Moline was officially incorporated in this year and it also happened to be the year when the famous John Deere, who invented the self-scouring steel plow, shifted his steel plow manufacturing business to Moline. In the years that followed, John Deree’s factories became Moline’s chief source of employment.

Moline was connected by rail (became a part of the transcontinental railroad) in 1854; this proved another turning point in the history of Moline as it improved transportation and communication. Soon Moline became an integral part of US economy and the arrivals of the waves of immigrants from different European nations also led to an increase in Moline’s population. The following year saw Moline being re-incorporated.

Moline continued to grow and prosper throughout the Civil War days and even afterwards and an upshot of its all-round development was its incorporation as a city in 1872. Of course, Moline’s uninterrupted growth continued for the rest of the 19th century and it closed the century on a very positive note.

Moline History – 1900 to Present-Times

Moline stepped into the 20th century well placed among its neighboring cities – Rock Island (Illinois) and Davenport (Iowa) – cities with which Moline formed the most advanced the Tri-Cities metro area of the region. The first two/three decades of the 20th century saw Moline undergo further infrastructural development, following the creation of the Quad-cities after the development of East Moline and Bettendorf. The 1930s saw Moline emerge as a retail hub even as the population continued to rise. The 1940s saw the construction of a few public housing projects as part of its new urban planning, a planning that was based on the city of Chicago.

The second-half of the 20th century, however, saw a reversal of fortune for Moline. The effects of slowing down economy (that was chiefly driven by industries manufacturing agricultural implements) ware apparent in the 1950s and when this key industry faltered due to agricultural crisis of the 1980s, Moline’s economy was badly hit. This was also accompanied by a reduction in population due to exodus of workers following closures.

It was not before the 1990s that Moline could again pick up the threads of its troubled economy and re-build its image. The completion/inauguration of city-landmarks like the ‘i-wireless Center’ and John Deere Commons, etc. have been important milestones of Moline history. Moline has successfully restored its lost glory; known for its rich cultural heritage present-day Moline is can be compared to the prime Illinois cities of Springfield and Chicago.

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