The 19th-century impacts of racism and transportation developments on New Philadelphia, Illinois are explored by examining oral history, documentary, and archaeological evidence. This study first addresses the region in which New Philadelphia was located, outlining the contours of a landscape torn by racial strife. Analysis of the history of the construction of a regional railroad that bypassed New Philadelphia is then provided. Evidence shows that the town was bypassed for reasons other than competition from other potential depot towns, engineering concerns with topography, or other rational business reasons. The impacts of aversive racism very likely diverted the railroad route around New Philadelphia, spelling its demise. Finally, the lessons that emerge from these past social, economic, and racial dynamics are considered.
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