New York Central Railroad Tunnel at Tunnel Hill, Illinois

Former New York Central Railroad Tunnel at Tunnel Hill, Illinois

David Cantrell, February 2020

Southern Illinois Railroads

A collection of Southern Illinois Railroad history has been assembled by David Cantrell to preserve the memories of an era that only a few can now recall. Railroad construction began in the mid-1800's across the southern Illinois area. By the end of the century, rails connected the Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, and Wabash Rivers. Coal and oil fields as well as agriculture products and lumber motivated investment that benefited rural areas and towns along railways. Passenger trains transported rural residents to the larger towns where doctors, supplies, and entertainment were available.

Highlights of the site include the B&O Springfield Division, L&N Shawneetown Branch, a roundhouse map and list, milepost list, railroad maps, the 1937 flood, and the War Emergency Pipeline Terminal at Norris City. If you have any information to share please reach out via the Contact Page. Advertisements are not present on the site nor is income generated from the content.

Two Steam Locomotives at Flora Depot 1910

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

The Baltimore & Ohio railroad linked the Illinois River at Beardstown with the Ohio at Shawneetown.

Locomotive #1 at Equality, IL

Courtesy of Gallatin County Historical Society

Louisville and Nashville Railroad

The Louisville & Nashville railroad joined the Mississippi at East St. Louis with the Ohio River at Shawneetown and Wabash River at Maunie.

New York Central Railroad Locomotive at Harrisburg Coal Mine

Harrisburg City Building

Big 4 (New York Central) Railroad

The Big 4 Railroad ran from Cairo to Vincennes across southern Illinois connecting with the Ohio, Mississippi, and Wabash Rivers.

SIR&P Co. Car Number 56

The Smaller Electric Railways of Illinois by Central Electric Railfans’ Association

Southern Illinois Railway & Power Company

An electric railway ran from Eldorado to Carrier Mills for twenty years.

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Steam Locomotive

Chicago, Burlington
& Quincy Railroad

According to the Williamson County Historical Society, the Northern and Southern Railroad connected Herrin to Centralia in 1906. The CB & Q purchased the line in 1908.

Chicago & Eastern Illinois Steam Locomotive

Chicago & Eastern
Illinois Railroad

The C&EI's earliest line ran from Evansville to Terre Haute, Indiana. Terre Haute soon linked with Chicago, Chicago with Danville, and Danville to St. Louis. In the early 1890's, the C&EI constructed track to reach the coal fields of southern Illinois.

Illinois Central Steam Locomotive

Illinois Central

Charted in 1851, the Illinois Central Railroad linked Chicago to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo.

Southern Railway Steam Locomotive

Southern Railway

The Southern Railway in Illinois connected East St. Louis to Mount Carmel. The main line continued on to Louisville, KY. Some mileposts for the Evansville Division are also included.

1878 O&M Railroad Map

The Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines

Southern Illinois
Railroad Maps

Maps showing Southern Illinois Railroad routes and mileposts have been created using MapBox.

Cairo NYC Railroad Yard During 1937 Flood

National Archives

Southern Illinois Roundhouses

A collection of roundhouse locations has been created by extending a couple of existing lists with additional sites in the tri-state area.

Junction L&N Depot 1937 Flood

Junction L&N Depot, 1937 Flood

H O Turner Photo Collection

1937 Flood in Southeastern Illinois

The Flood of 1937 was a devastating disaster that impacted southeastern Illinois. A brief history has been compiled including railroad photos from around the area.

First War Emergency Pipeline Train Leaves Norris City

First Train of Oil Departs Norris City

Norris City Museum

War Emergency Pipeline Terminal

Norris City, Illinois was the midwest terminal for the War Emergency Pipeline. It transferred oil to rail cars until the pipeline was completed to the east coast.

Parker City Illinois Central Brige, Bob Poos 1956, David Cantrell 2019

Parker City Illinois Central Brige

Bob Poos 1956
David Cantrell 2019

Then and Now Railroad Photos

Some remnants remain in Southern Illinois of the previous railroad infrastructure. Several photo collages have been created to help us remember.

Santa Fe 2319 in Snow

Santa Fe 2319 in Snow

David Cantrell

Mayberry Township Train

The Santa Fe Railroad purchased twelve Alco HH-1000 switchers and deployed them to the west coast. Some were deactivated by Precision in Mt. Vernon, IL. The home of Santa Fe #2319 has been Mayberry Township since the early 1970's.