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It was built by the Rock Island Railroad Company, and replaced the slow seasonal ferry service and winter ice bridges as the primary modes of transportation across the river.

Steamboaters saw the nationwide railroads as a threat to their business.

The primary minority groups in the area are African-Americans, which in Davenport make up the third largest black population in the state of Iowa, a community dating back to the 1830s.

Boat crews needed rest areas to stop before encountering the rapids, places to hire expert pilots such as Phillip Suiter, who was the first licensed pilot on the upper Mississippi River, to guide the boat through the rocky waters, or, when the water was low, places where goods could be removed and transported by wagon on land past the rapids.

Today, the rocks are submerged six feet underwater by a lake formed by two locks and dams.

But with the growth of Rock Island County, during the 1930s the term "Quad Cities" came into vogue, as East Moline was given "equal status." Despite the fact that the region had earned the name "Quad Cities," the National Basketball Association had a franchise in Moline, Illinois, from 1946 to 1951 called the "Tri-Cities Blackhawks." Then, with the opening of an Alcoa (now Arconic) plant east of Davenport in 1948, the town of Bettendorf underwent so much growth that many people in the community discussed the adoption of the name "Quint Cities", But by this time, the name "Quad Cities" had become known well beyond the area, and "Quint Cities" never caught on, despite the efforts of WOC-TV (as KWQC-TV was then called) and others.

Consequently, when Bettendorf passed East Moline in size, there was some debate about whether Bettendorf had "displaced" East Moline.

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