War Emergency Pipeline Railroad Terminal in Norris City, Illinois

First War Emergency Pipeline Train Leaves Norris City

First Train of Oil Departs Norris City
Norris City Museum

History
Fuel is a vital component of any armed conflict whether it be for humans or machines. Nuclear submarine deployments are bracketed by the amount of food that can be stored for the crew since the reactors operate for years at a time before replenishment. When the United States entered World War II, the gulf coast region was the primary hub for refineries and crude oil supplies. Tanker ships shuttled the oil to the major population centers on the east coast and on to Europe where the commodity was painfully scarce. The Germans were keenly aware of these routes and deployed submarines to stop delivery of these resources. Because of their success, an alternative means of delivery from Texas to the northeast was required. The War Emergency Pipeline was one of the solutions.
The project consisted of two pipelines: The Big and Little Inch. The Big Inch at 24” in diameter and was divided into 3 construction phases and carried crude oil. The Little Inch was 4” smaller and transported refined petroleum products. These oil conduits were lifelines of energy for the allied war effort. Edward Oliver saw German War Maps that identified Norris City as a key target for bombing campaigns against the United States.
The Big Inch began installation on August 3, 1942 in Longview, Texas using an allocation of steel that allowed connecting Longview, Texas across 531 miles to Norris City, IL. Oil reached Norris City on February 13, 1943. The New York Central Railroad pulled tank cars from the pipeline terminal towards the east coast. Not only were steel supplies short for the project construction, tank car availability was also a significant hurdle. Cooperation among railroads and ingenuity helped alleviate the complications of getting empty tank cars back to Norris City for the next load of crude.
The rail shipments continued until November 27, 1943 after the second pipeline segment from Norris City to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania reached full operations. The railroads moved 33,561,770 barrels of oil via 154,291 tanks cars. A tremendous accomplishment in the name of freedom.
Norris City Terminal Capabilities
- 15 - 80,000 barrel storage tanks
- 300 tank car loading rack
- 1 mile of loading racks
- Yard space for 300 cars
- 7 miles of tracks
- 75 cars every 52 minutes
- 1,250 cars per day
- 16 to 18 trains per day
- Carmi Yard – 400-500 car capacity
- Mt. Carmel Yard – 1,500 car capacity
References
A history of the Petroleum Administration for War, 1941-1945
United States
Lifeline of Energy During World War II, Illinois History
David Cantrell
Men, oil and war
Curtin, D. Thomas (Daniel Thomas)
New York Central Telegram, January 1, 1944
Rex Settlemoir
Railway Age Volume 116, January 1, 1944
The Big Inch and Little Big Inch Pipelines
The Most Amazing Government-Industry Cooperation Ever Achieved
Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation, May 2000
The Role of Pipelines in World War Two
Charles Wendell Robertson

Tank Cars Await Oil Arrival in Norris City

Tank Cars Await Oil Arrival in Norris City

Norris City Museum

Davies, Ralph K. (Ralph Kenneth), 1897-1971; Jones, W. Alton

Oil being loaded into first tank cars at Norris City, Illinois. In foreground is W. Alton Jones, President of War Emergency Pipelines, Inc. In the background is Ralph K. Davies, Deputy Petroleum Administrator for War. From the Scrapbook War Emergency Pipelines, Inc.: Construction Views, Eastern Extension of East Texas-East Coast Pipeline Volume II.

Davies, Ralph K. (Ralph Kenneth), 1897-1971; Jones, W. Alton

Ralph K. Davies Papers
Truman Library

Norris City Pump Facilities

Norris City Pump Facilities

Norris City Museum

First carload of 24-inch seamless pipe for the Big Inch

First carload of 24-inch seamless pipe for the Big Inch

National Tube Company, a subsidiary of US Steel, provided 21,185 railcar loads of pipe for the War Emergency Pipeline

By Petroleum Administration for War [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rails Under Construction at Norris City

Rails Under Construction at Norris City

Norris City Museum

Rail Construction Moving Along at Norris City

Rail Construction Moving Along at Norris City

Norris City Museum

Tank Car Loading Racks Stand Ready at Norris City

Tank Car Loading Racks
Stand Ready at Norris City

Norris City Museum

Construction Started on One of Fifteen 80,000 Barrel Storage Tanks at Norris City

Construction Started on One of Fifteen 80,000 Barrel Storage Tanks at Norris City

Norris City Museum

Acme Construction Boxcar at Norris City

Acme Construction Boxcar at Norris City

Norris City Museum

Transferring Oil from the Pipeline to Tank Cars at Norris City

Transferring Oil from the Pipeline to Tank Cars at Norris City

Norris City Museum

Train Rounds Junction from B&O tracks to Norris City Terminal, NYC Depot in Background

Train Rounds Junction from B&O tracks to Norris City Terminal
NYC Depot in Background

Norris City Museum

Oil Train from Norris City Steams Past Mt. Carmel NYC Depot

Oil Train from Norris City Steams Past Mt. Carmel NYC Depot

NYC Class H10 2-8-2 Mikados Article
New York Central Historical Society

Northbound Oil Train at Mt. Carmel Passes Empty Cars Waiting to Return to Norris City

Northbound Oil Train at Mt. Carmel Passes Empty Cars Waiting to Return to Norris City

NYC Class H10 2-8-2 Mikados Article
New York Central Historical Society

Turntable at Mt. Carmel was Used Heavily During WW II Supporting the War Emergency Pipeline

Turntable at Mt. Carmel was Used Heavily During WW II Supporting the War Emergency Pipeline

NYC Class H10 2-8-2 Mikados Article
New York Central Historical Society

GE Advertisement for Pumps Supplied to the War Emergency Pipeline

GE Advertisement for Pumps Supplied to the War Emergency Pipeline

Cornell engineer. v.8 1942/43

Gangway Keep 'Em Rolling

Gangway Keep 'Em Rolling

Association of American Railroads

Empties at Mt Carmel Wait as Fully Loaded Tank Cars Pass from Norris City

Empties at Mt Carmel Wait as Fully Loaded Tank Cars Pass from Norris City

Railroads at War
S. Kip Farrington

NYC Railroad Congratulations Telegram to Cairo Line Employees on Extraordinary Performance Supporting the War Emergency Pipeline

NYC Railroad Congratulations Telegram to Cairo Line Employees on Extraordinary Performance Supporting the War Emergency Pipeline

Rex Settlemoir

1950's Norris City Terminal Aerial Photo

1950's Norris City Terminal Aerial Photo

USGS Earth Explorer

1950's Norris City Terminal Aerial Photo

1950's Norris City Terminal Aerial Photo

USGS Earth Explorer

Texas Eastern at Norris City After World War II<br/>Rail Loading Facilities Removed

Texas Eastern at Norris City After World War II
Rail Loading Facilities Removed

Norris City Museum

Pipe Dream Comes True, Opening Valves at Norris City<br/>February 19, 1943

Pipe Dream Comes True, Opening Valves at Norris City
February 19, 1943

Click Here Link to Watch the Clip by Paramount Studios
Historical Films

First Oil Train Departs Norris City

First Oil Train Departs Norris City

Paramount Studios
Historical Films

First Oil Train Departs Norris City

First Oil Train Departs Norris City

Paramount Studios
Historical Films