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This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

Few Rock Island real estate developers have ever had a grander dream than E. H. Guyer. It was so big, it took him several years to dream it.

In 1890, Guyer purchased a huge tract of land at the eastern border of Rock Island, midway between downtown Rock Island and downtown Moline. The Keystone Addition, as he called it ran from 35th Street to 47th Streets in Rock Island, and from Ninth to Fourteenth Avenues.

Guyer's dreams for Keystone were even larger than its acreage. The cities of Rock Island and Moline were rushing toward each other at a fearsome rate. They would soon meet at Keystone. Guyer believed that the two cities would merge into one large metropolis with Keystone at the center. Hence the name Keystone.

For several years, Guyer took out ads at the very center of the Rock Island-Moline City Directory, complete with a large fold-out map, showing lots for sale. Guyer promised that buyers who bought now at suburban prices would soon find their value quadruple as Keystone became a congested city center. Keystone was adjacent to the growing Rock Island Arsenal destined to employ thousands, and also next to the only still undeveloped factory land along the Mississippi. And it was on healthy high ground, in contrast to the existing downtowns build on low swampy ground.

Guyer noted that plans were already in the works for a new courthouse, a theater, a city hall, a union depot for all trains, and a great university, along with hundreds of businesses and shops. The ads ended by promising potential buyers that it was "an unalterable decree of nature that this all come to pass."

Unfortunately, Guyer had not bothered to ask Mother Nature, or check with Moline and Rock Island to see if they wanted to merge. They didn't. Nor was Augustana College particularly happy about a great university just across 38th Street. The college was instrumental in getting Rock Island to buy the university grounds in 1909 and turn it into Lincoln Park.

And what about the residents sitting on their front porches summer evenings? They don't complain much about the lack of “urban congestion.”

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by the Scott County Regional Authority, with additional funding from the Illinois Arts Council and Augustana College, Rock Island.

Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.