Steam-powered freight train departing Chicago. Running between Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan, and on the railroad named after the 17th century French priest-explorer, Pere Marquette, the train is shown here leaving Chicago at noon on September 4, 1929. The train is "double-headed," with two locomotives, numbers 721 and 720. Noteworthy also are the temporary wooden piling for the tracks during the straightening of the Chicago River at Roosevelt Road, southwest of the Loop. This train was a key link between Grand Rapids, the major regional furniture manufacturing city (in the heart of the Great Lakes logging region), and Chicago, with its Furniture Mart, the great centrally located, rail hub mecca for retail store buyers from coast to coast. This was typical of the trains which serviced what historian William Cronon has called Chicago's empire (Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, 1992), from the mid 19th century for the next hundred years. Not as elegant and swift as the 20th Century Limited plying between Chicago and New York or as the Super Chief to the west coast via the southwest on the Santa Fe line, nevertheless, trains like the Furniture City Special were crucial. They were the backbone of both the prosperity and also of the decentralized character of industrial America, which was distributed along rail lines within half day runs of major hubs such as Chicago, New York, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Denver. This image is from transportation collector and writer Arthur Dubin (1923- ), (Some Classic Trains, 1964 and More Classic Trains, 1974). Caption written by Arthur Miller, Lake Forest College.