L & N History
- The Louisville and Nashville railroad began as the St. Louis and Southeastern Railway. It ran from East St. Louis through Mt. Vernon, across
the Wabash River, to Evansville (St. Louis Division). At McLeansboro, it branched and headed 42 miles south to Shawneetown and the Ohio River (Shawneetown Branch).
Hamilton County had stops along the west - east section of the L & N at: Dahlgren, Delafield, McLeansboro Junction, McLeansboro, Powell's Station and Thackery.
Along the Shawneetown Branch, Hamilton County stations included McLeansboro, Hoodville, Dale, and Broughton. Broughton and approximately 5 miles of track passed through Mayberry Township. The Dahlgren, Dale, and Broughton depots still stand and photos are available from the milepost pages. In 1874, it took 8.5 hours to travel from St. Louis to Evansville. In 1972, the distance was covered in 5 hours and 10 minutes.
St. Louis and Southeastern Railroad was chartered to build a railway from the Mississippi River opposite St. Louis to Mt. Vernon, McLeansboro, Equality, and on to the Ohio River at Shawneetown by the State of Illinois.
The St. Louis and Southeastern Railway Company obtained a loan for $2,250,000 from George Opdyke and Philo C. Calhoun, of New York.
Evansville and Southern Illinois Railroad Company chartered to connect McLeansboro to the Big Wabash River via Enfield and Carmi.
The people of Hamilton County voted to provide $200,000 to the Shawneetown line and $74,000 to the Wabash River venture. Hamilton County provided $237,000 to the St. Louis and Southeastern Railroad and $37,000 to the Evansville and Southern Illinois Railroad. Before any construction was started the two companies consolidated under the St. Louis and Southeastern name.
1870 St. Louis & Southeastern Railroad Construction Chronology from Railroad Gazette
- On October 1, 1870, it was reported that grading had been completed from East St. Louis to Mt. Vernon. 42 miles of the rail had been laid from the Kaskaskia River to Mt. Vernon. Simultaneously, 15 miles of construction had been started at Shawneetown headed westward and the Evansville link to McLeansboro was also in progress.
October 15, 1870
Rail had been received at Shawneetown with track laying between Equality and Shawneetown underway. A segment between Belleville and Mt. Vernon was nearing completion. The East St. Louis depot building had been connected with the old Belleville road. General E. F. Winslow was awarded the contract for the McLeansboro to Carmi segment.
October 29, 1870
The Shawneetown Mercury reported that the line from Shawneetown to Equality was graded and tied with rail installation in progress. In Hamilton County, timber was being cleared with ties ready for grading.
November 12, 1870
The St. Louis & Southeastern Railway was completed to Mt. Vernon on November 9th. The reporter made the maiden journey and relayed that passenger, baggage, and express cars were from Jackson & Sharp’s Wilmington shops with their distinct vermilion color. The new locomotives were from Roger’s Works. He reported generous hospitality from the people along the line that were very glad to be "out of the wilderness".
December 30, 1870
The Shawneetown Mercury reported that a large number of ties had been laid in Hamilton County headed from McLeansboro to Equality. The entire line from St. Louis to Shawneetown is estimated to be finished in 1871 at a cost of $3,000,000.
The last rail on the Springfield & Illinois Southeastern was laid on December 23rd, 1870 at 12:30 with arrival of the construction train in Shawneetown at 3:00 pm.
According to the Indianapolis News article from newspapers.com, the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad reached the Wabash River on October 13, 1871. A steam ferry was used to transport passengers to the other side while bridge construction continued.
The Alton Telegraph article found on newspapers.com reported that the construction of the railway between St. Louis and Evansville which began on September 6, 1870 and was finished November 22, 1871, with the completion of the Wabash River Bridge.
The milepost for the Wabash River Bridge has more details of its history.
January 1, 1872
The branch from McLeansboro to Shawneetown was finished along with a new McLeansboro depot located a mile south of McLeansboro Junction with the main line via a Y-track. Both freight and passenger service were offered.
Shortly thereafter, a consolidation joined Kentucky and Tennessee railway companies with rails to Nashville with the St. Louis railway under the name: St. Louis & Southeastern Consolidated.
The St. Louis and Southeastern Railway Company with its route from St. Louis to Evansville was sold in a foreclosure auction in 1880 to a group of bond holders that included William Whitehouse and Charles Opdyke. Charles Opdyke was the son of George, the Republican Mayor of New York City during the Civil War. George was the founder of the bank that held the railroad bonds and passed away earlier in that same year. The town of Opdyke in Jefferson County, IL was named after George Opdyke. The bondholders conveyed the railroad back to the Southeast & St. Louis Railway Company under the condition that it be leased to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company. In 1936, the L & N became the full owner of this railroad.
The Physical Condition Of Railroad Properties Inspected During The Year Ending December 1st, 1902, reported on the condition of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
The St. Louis Division from East St. Louis to the Wabash River was constructed with 70 lb rail. In the last six years, new depots had been constructed at Mawnee (Maunie) and Opdike (Opdyke). Macadam platforms are present at all but 3 stations. Highway crossing signs in good condition but none imprinted with letters as required by law.
The Shawneetown Branch was built with second hand 58 lb steel rail.
The L & N Railroad ends the lease and acquires the St. Louis and Southeastern Division Railway.
According to the In the, August 1952 issue of the Louisville and Nashville Employes' Magazine, passenger service was discontinued on trains 34 and 35 on Evansville Division's Shawneetown Branch in July of 1952.
Seaboard Coast Line Railroad bought the rest of the L & N outstanding shares from their previous holding of 35%.
Family Lines Systems became the brand name but not a corporate structure for the Louisville & Nashville, Clinchfield, Georgia Railroad, and West Point Route railroads.
Seaboard Coast Line Railroad and Chessie System became subsidiaries of CSX Corporation.
Seaboard Coast Line and L & N merged on December 29, 1982 formed Seaboard System Railroad as a subsidiary of CSX Corporation.
December 31, 1982, the L & N ended its 132 year life when it was merged into Seaboard System Railroad.
CSX Transportation absorbed Seaboard System Railroad and continued to operate the St. Louis to Evansville segment of the former St. Louis and Southeastern Railway.
Seaboard System Abandonment requests in Illinois for 1986 included the McLeansboro to Shawneetown segment of railroad. The exact date that operations ceased has not been determined.
The Hamilton County GIS real estate web site, shows the American Coal Company as the owner of the former Shawneetown Branch rail line right of way from McLeansboro to Broughton.
The Evansville Western Railway began operating the St. Louis Division between Okawville, IL and Evansville, IN. The railway hauls grain from Enfield, McLeansboro, and coal from Delafield and Sugar Camp mines to southern Indiana.
The rumble of the cars and the blast of the engine horn can be heard at my grandparent's home in Mayberry Township over 7 miles from the tracks.
Its travels provide captivating subjects for railfans throughout the area.
Western Reporter Robert Desty Charles Andrew Ray January 1, 1886 Lawyers' Co-operative Publishing Company pg. 396-397
Western Railroad Gazelle, Railroad record, and journal of commerce, banking, manufactures and statistics, VOLUME XVII, 1869-1870
The story of a southern carrier, the Louisville and Nashville, an outline history. By John Leeds Kerr
L & N Railroad History
CSX Merger Family Tree
1902 Annual Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the State of Illinois
Historic Evansville - Railroad Lines and Stops