NOTE: See the Quad Cities overview for regional information on tourism centers, festivals, and getting around.
Before there was East Moline, there was Watertown and Happy Hollow, but by the time East Moline was platted in 1895, these early villages had vanished and the land was mostly uninhabited swamp. The only signs of “civilization” were a single railroad shack and one house.
Rock Islander E.H. Guyer had previously purchased options on the land and was ready to begin a massive public relations campaign to sell land to fulfill his dream of creating an industrial powerhouse of a city. The initial attempt to auction off plots of land, however, was a miserable failure and would have killed the whole venture except for the generosity of two men, Jeremiah Keator and Charles Deere, who stepped forward with enough cash to keep the effort alive.
Revitalized, Guyer moved on with his plans and slowly started to attract business and residents. In the early years, East Moline succeeded in attracting industry but housing construction lagged behind. The opening of the Rock Island Railroad yard in neighboring Silvis only exacerbated the housing shortage; it would take several years for East Moline to build enough housing to satisfy demand. East Moline today is a diverse community that is the home of one of the remaining John Deere factories.
At the point where 13th Avenue makes a sharp turn to the right, the giant factory on the left is the John Deere Harverstor Works—the factory that builds combines and, unlike its competitors, is still going strong. If you have been paying attention, you will have just read about the John Deere factory tour that is way cool. See the Moline section for more detail.
There are few attractions for travelers in East Moline, but, if you want an excuse to see something, stop at Campbell’s Island State Historic Site (Island Ave.; 309.788.0177). Built to commemorate a skirmish on July 19, 1814, during the War of 1812, in which sixteen people were killed by a group of British allied Sauk and Mesquakie Indians led by Black Hawk. Campbell’s Island has long been a favorite recreation spot for area residents (it still has a marina) and is currently home for many river rats. The monument is nothing special but the views of the river are good and you will probably have the place to yourself.
• Main Post Office: 805 16th Ave.; 309.755.5746.
• East Moline Public Library: 740 16th Ave.; 309.755.9614.
Heading upriver? Check out Hampton.
Heading downriver? Check out Moline.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009,2018