Photo by David Cantrell
The proximity of the Ohio River to the railroads in the southeastern Illinois provided many benefits to the area. The trains carried passengers, freight, mail, and connected residents with professional services like doctors that may not have been available in every town. The railroads also brought a mechanism of communication between stations. Freight and passenger service was provided by the B&O and L&N railway companies to Shawneetown with freight service lasting the longest on both. Both railroads had depots there with connections to the Norfolk and Washington, DC Steamboat Company Steamers on the Ohio River that were part of the Evansville, Paducah, and Cairo Line owned and operated by the Tennessee and Ohio River Transportation Company.
The Baltimore & Ohio railroad linked the Illinois River at Beardstown with the Ohio at Shawneetown.B&O Railroad
The Louisville & Nashville railroad joined the Mississippi at East St. Louis with the Ohio River at Shawneetown and Wabash River at Maunie.L&N Railroad
The Big 4 Railroad ran from Cairo to Vincennes across southern Illinois connecting with the Ohio, Mississippi, and Wabash Rivers.
An electric railway ran from Eldorado to Carrier Mills for twenty years.
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.CB & Q Photos»
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.C&EI Photos »
Charted in 1851, the Illinois Central Railroad linked Chicago to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo.
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.
Southern Railway depot photos between Mt. Vernon and Mt. Carmel can be seen here.
The B&O railroad did not run through Mayberry Township however, my grandfather, Wilson Mayberry on the right in the photo above, worked on the route between Flora and Shawneetown from 1941 to 1977 when he retired as a foreman. Having traveled from Flora to Shawneetown and seen first hand the geographical challenges of keeping the trains running down these rails, a much deeper appreciation for his efforts has been gained.
Flora Mayberry's Papers
These webpages on southeastern Illinois railroads would not be possible without the kindness of the following individuals and organizations: