Former New York Central Railroad Tunnel at Tunnel Hill, Illinois
David Cantrell, February 2020
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, Ohio, and Wabash Rivers. Coal and oil fields as well as agriculture products 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.
A collection of railroad history has been assembled to preserve the memories of an era that only a few can now recall. My primary focus has been to connect existing sources of railroad history together by railway and milepost. Facebook and other sharing sites have limited functionality to aggregate shared content. The proximity of the B&O and L&N railroads in southeastern Illinois to me permitted more in-depth research in an area that had less documentation. Highlights of the site include a roundhouse map and milepost list, railroad maps, the 1937 flood, and the War Emergency Pipeline Terminal at Norris City.
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Two Steam Locomotives at Flora Depot 1910
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
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
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
An electric railway ran from Eldorado to Carrier Mills for twenty years.
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Steam Locomotive
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
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
Charted in 1851, the Illinois Central Railroad linked Chicago to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo.
Southern Railway Steam Locomotive
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
Maps showing Southern Illinois Railroad routes and mileposts have been created using MapBox.
Cairo NYC Railroad Yard During 1937 Flood
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
H O Turner Photo Collection
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 Train of Oil Departs Norris City
Norris City Museum
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.
Santa Fe 2319 in Snow
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.