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Contact the
Roger Hensley

  Railroads of Madison County
Craig Sanders

Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995
Subject: More about Big Four

Roger --

Thanks for your recent message. For what it's worth, here is some partial information about former Big Four lines that still exist or have been abandonded in Illinois and Indiana that I know of.

The Big Four mainline from Indianapolis to St. Louis is still intact from Avon Yard westward to Terre Haute. At Terre Haute, the former PRR and NYC lines had some joint trackage west of town (in Penn Central Days) to CP 72. The former Big Four still exists from CP 72 to Paris. The line between Paris and Pana was abandoned in 1983. From Pana to Lennox, the ex-Big Four was sold to Missouri Pacific (now Union Pacific). MP (formerly Chicago & Eastern Illinois) had trackages rights over this segment for years.

From Paris northward, the Big Four line extended to Sheff. To my knowledge, that track is still in place, but if I'm not mistaken Conrail has downgraded at least a portion of this track and maybe all of it. You might know better than I do if any segments of this route have since been abandoned.

My guess is that the line between Paris and Danville still sees daily traffic as it is the connecting link to the line to Peoria, Ill. which is still in operation from Danville to Bloomington, Ill. West of Bloomington the Big Four line is abandoned, so CR must use the NS line to reach Peoria.

The ex-Big Four (Peoria and Eastern) track between Danville and Crawfordsville, Ind. is abandoned, but the track remains between Crawfordsville and CP Clermont on the west side of Indianapolis. Between CP Clermont and Downtown Indianapolis I believe all of the track is abandoned.

The track between Paris and Cairo is all abandoned except for a small stretch owned by Norfolk Southern between Mt. Carmel and Keensburg, Ill. My guess is that there must be a coal mine on that track.

Between Sheff and Kankakee still exists and is owned by a short line operator whose name escapes me at the moment.

The Big Four had a branch from Kankakee to Seneca, Ill. on the Illinois River. That line is all abandoned.

In the St. Louis area, parts of the Big Four still exist. In June 1992 I rode on Amtrak's Statehouse from Chicago to St. Louis. I was surprised to hear the train receive a Form D from a Conrail dispatcher just south of Alton, Ill. So CR still owns track from the Granite City area to the Alton area. However, I'm sure the "Old Line" from Hillsboro, Ill. to East. Alton, Ill. has been abandoned. That was the original route of the Terre Haute and Alton RR.

Well, this is a start. Let me know what you know.

craig sanders

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