Looking Back: Billy Clifford’s railroad car


This postcard, with photo taken about 1900, shows local actor Billy Clifford’s railroad car alongside the Washington Hotel in Urbana.

This postcard, with photo taken about 1900, shows local actor Billy Clifford’s railroad car alongside the Washington Hotel in Urbana.


Courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Society

This is a circa 1900 postcard photo of Billy Clifford’s private railroad car next to the Washington Hotel. Billy Clifford, who grew up in Urbana, was an internationally renowned entertainer. This photo was taken looking southeast across the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad (Big Four RR) toward Miami Street. In the background is the A.T. Woodcock grain elevator. Across the tracks from Clifford’s car is the Big Four RR freight and passenger depot.

These structures were located near where West Court Street currently joins Washington Street. Note next to the depot is a horse and cart loaded with items. In the right foreground is a pneumatic-tired bicycle; these bicycles were first produced about 1890. The Washington Hotel was remodeled for later use as the Urbana Broom Co. factory; most likely, this photo was taken during this transition.

In 1926 the depot and broom factory were razed when the Big Four RR tracks were elevated. Related photos in CCHS archives are: A2072-1, A2119-7, A1873.

The Champaign County Historical Museum is an all-volunteer, not-for profit organization that preserves, protects, archives and displays the artifacts that tell the Champaign County story. The organization depends upon donations and dues to provide a free public museum located at 809 East Lawn Ave., which is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This postcard, with photo taken about 1900, shows local actor Billy Clifford’s railroad car alongside the Washington Hotel in Urbana.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2019/05/web1_CliffordCar.jpgThis postcard, with photo taken about 1900, shows local actor Billy Clifford’s railroad car alongside the Washington Hotel in Urbana. Courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Society