In Big Woods, travel was done by horse or by foot because there were no roads. New paths were made later to take them where they needed to go. Once the prairie grass was worn away, the 1st became the road. After there were several roads, it became necessary to name them. They were named for pioneers, Indians, presidents and historic events.
Early Named Roads
Some of the roads named after pioneers were Delia (Isaac Wilson's granddaughter), Elizabeth (Christopher Payne's wife), and Lathem (an early east side resident). Some streets named for early businessmen were Mallory, McKee and VanNortwick, The streets named after presidents include Lincoln, Madison and VanBuren.
Plank roads where built in 1848. There were no paved roads until after 1900. By 1916, there was 1/2 a mile of brick road later known as Route 31. The 1st car owned by a Batavian was A. D. Mallory, which he drove home from Detroit, Michigan in 1900.
The 1st sidewalks were cinder paths but were later made of bricks or limestone. The 1st concrete road was built in 1897.
To get from one side of Big Woods to the other, you had to cross the river to the island and then cross a pond by boat. The 1st bridge was made of wood in 1837 but only traveled from the east side to the island. A similar bridge was built in 1843 at the north end of the island to the west side. In 1844, a limestone bridge was built from Wilson Street from the east side to the island. After part of the bridge was washed away, it was replaced by a stone bridge. A bridge across the pond was built in 1876; then, in 1911, a concrete bridge was built over the river and the pond.
It took 3 days to go to Chicago and back by horse and wagon. In 1850, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad were finished and traveled from west Chicago to Aurora through Batavia. The rider would ride to Aurora, catch another train to Chicago and be back in 1 day. The depot was at Prairie and Webster Streets, but it is now the Batavia Historical Society Museum; located at Houston and Water Streets.
There was also the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin Railway with the station at the southeast corner of the Wilson Street Bridge. The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad was built in 1870, allowing trains to transport limestone to Chicago. The 1st depot was at Wilson and Water Streets. Then, in 1913, a brick depot was built. The Pinnacle ( Batavia Savings and Loan) Bank is in that location now.
Streetcars & Buses
A streetcar line began in 1896 and ran 20 times a day from Geneva and Aurora. By 1950, the toll ways were complete and people were just driving to where they wanted to go. The passenger trains and streetcars quit running through Batavia due to the number of people driving. Buses replaced the streetcars and are still running between Aurora and Elgin.