And in the Beginning . . .
Lovell Kimball, the founder of Marseilles, arrived in the area along the Illinois River known as Grand Rapids in 1833. Kimball was aware that the Illinois-Michigan Canal Bill had passed and the canal would eventually reach the rapids, so he hired a surveyor to layout the town. Kimball called the town Marseilles, under the impression that Marseilles, France was an industrial center which he hoped to attain in Illinois. Marseilles was officially platted on June 3,1835. The plat was revised twice for railroad and canal right-of-ways. In 1849, Marseilles was home to the first coal mine opening.
The original Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Depot in Marseilles was constructed in 1867. The depot was a locally significant transportation hub which facilitated the shipment of people and goods to and from Marseilles along the Rock Island and LaSalle Line, which became the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The small wooden station was replaced in 1917 after citizens in the city won a 40-year battle with the railroad and the U.S. Circuit Court ordered a new station be built. Of all the US railroads that operated west of Chicago, the Rock Island Line built the finest looking stations. Marseilles’s station is an example of one of the best and was in operation until 1974. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1995. Today, it is home to a health care center.