Cairo & and Vincennes Railroad


New York Central Railroad Locomotive at Harrisburg Coal Mine
New York Central Railroad Locomotive at Harrisburg Coal Mine

Harrisburg City Building

Cairo Division Mileposts

Big 4 Schedules

Big 4 Maps

Big 4 Track Maps

Big 4 Milepost and Route Google Map



Big 4 History


A railroad to connect Cairo, Illinois with Vincennes, Indiana was built in 1872. Ambrose Burnside led the effort. New Burnsides is named after this Civil War General. The name of the organization started as Vincennes & Cairo Railroad and changed over the years to Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific; the New York Central; Penn Central; Conrail; Southern Railway; and Norfolk Southern Railroad.

The Cairo and Vincennes Railroad crossed the L & N at Eldorado and Carmi and the B & O at Norris City. Norris City, Illinois and the New York Central Railroad contributed to World War II with the War Emergency Pipeline.

The name Big 4 is used chiefly to describe this railroad.

The viaduct that supported the tracks through Norris City was where we painted our names while the seniors were in Washington, DC during the first week of May. A railroad bridge that crossed Bear Creek southwest of town also received a coat of paint courtesy of the junior class. Both structures have been removed but the memories of that ritual remain.

Rex Settlemoir, a former Navy Captain, has shared many artifacts on the Internet and Facebook. His father worked for the railroad line in southern Illinois.

Fans of the New York Central Railroad Facebook group has also posted history that has made this site more complete.

The Vienna, Illinois Facebook Group has been the source of several rare photographs along this historical railroad line.

Additional history on the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad in southern Illinois would be most appreciated. I can be reached from the Contact page.


Cairo and Vincennes Railroad Wikipedia

Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Tunnel Hill Trail