In 1836 Senator Richard Young lead efforts to have Congress fund improving the Des Moines Rapids to secure year long steamboat access on the Mississippi River. Lt. Robert E. Lee of the US Army Corps of Engineers was sent to lead efforts to clear the Des Moines Rapids.
Also in 1836, Governor Joseph Duncan and the Illinois legislature approved construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and several railroad projects that would cross the state and connect with other railroad projects in Michigan and Indiana. The Warsaw Peoria and Wabash Railroad (from Warsaw to the Indiana border) and the Northern Cross Railroad (from Quincy to the Indiana border) was approved and initial grading and land preparations were begun.
The national fiscal crisis occurred in 1837 which devastated the economy and interrupted all of the Illinois previously planned internal improvement projects. This financial crisis devastated the funding opportunities for the Illinois canal and railroad projects.
Anticipating great financial fortune from future land sales in Warsaw because of the planned railroads and the canal, Mark Aldrich and a few others formed the Warsaw Land Company. In 1837 Governor Duncan and Richard F. Barrett joined as leaders of the Warsaw Land Company. Duncan became the President due to his political connections.