Bloomington, Pontiac, & Joliet Electric Railway History
In the U.S. Census report of 1900, the population of Livingston County is listed as being 8,658 families, making a total of 40,170 residents.
At a time in history before the Model T and paved roads, the leaders of Pontiac, the county seat, recognized the need for an affordable and regular rail transportation service that connected the small towns in the region on a more frequent schedule than that of the steam-powered railroads that traversed Illinois and the rest of the nation’s heartland (Chicago & Alton, Wabash, Illinois Central, etc.).
In the southern and central parts of Illinois, the 550-mile Illinois Traction System, which began in 1896, demonstrated many of the economic advantages of having a locally-oriented, electric rail service. With that model in mind, the Bloomington, Pontiac & Joliet Electric Railway Company began its life when a corporation was formed in 1904.