Illinois Central Color Pictorial Vol 2 by Clifford Downey Cairo IL to New Orlean
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Illinois Central Color Pictorial Vol 2 by Clifford Downey Cairo IL to New Orlean
Illinois Central Color Pictorial Vol 2 by Clifford J Downey
Hard Cover (Glare from the lights in the last photo)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter One Cairo - Memphis - Birmingham 6
The Cadiz Railroad 30
Illinois Central's Shops - Paducah, Kentucky 32
Riding the Creole 47
Chapter Two Memphis, Tennessee - Jackson, Mississippi 52
Chapter Three Jackson, Mississippi - New Orleans, Louisiana . . . 60
Chapter Four Twilight of Illinois Central Steam 76
Chapter Five All-Weather Railroading on the Illinois Central 88
Chapter Six Cab Units on the Illinois Central 102
Chapter Seven Illinois Central Cabooses 112
Chapter Eight Illinois Central Locomotive Pictorial 116
The Illinois Central Railroad was chartered on February 10, 1851, for the purpose of building a Y-shaped railroad from Dunleith, Illinois (now East Dubuque), south to Cairo, Illinois, together with a branch from Centralia, Illinois, north to Chicago. But almost from the moment that the railroad laid its first rail it seemed destined to reach into the Deep South. In late 1854 the IC reached Cairo, located at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. IC quickly realized that there was much revenue to be gained by forming alliances with the steamboats working the Mississippi River between Cairo and Memphis, Vicksburg, New Orleans, and other Southern cities. By joining with the steamboat companies, IC became one of the first railroads to offer freight and passenger service between the Midwest and the Deep South.
Direct rail service between Chicago and New Orleans was initiated in 1873 when the IC formed an alliance with two Southern railroads. At Cairo, cars were ferried across the Ohio River to East Cairo, Kentucky, and handed over to the Mississippi Central Railroad. The MC then handled the traffic south through Fulton, Kentucky, and Jackson, Tennessee, to Canton, Mississippi. There, the traffic was turned over to the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern, which then moved the traffic south into New Orleans. Initially, a one-way trip from Chicago to New Orleans took nearly 50 hours, but this was a vast improvement over the 5 or 6 days required to travel this route via steamboat. The two Southern railroads were built to a 5 foot gauge whereas the IC was built to standard gauge, so at Cairo it was necessary to swap the trucks underneath the cars.
The IC-MC-NOJ&GN alliance would not have been possible without a great deal of financial assistance from the IC. During the early 1870's both the MC and NOJ&GN were in poor condition. Also, a lack of capital was hindering the MC from completing its East Cairo, Kentucky, to Jackson, Tennessee, line. With the assistance of the IC, in 1872 both roads secured a new $8 million mortgage. Each road was to use $5 million of this money to consolidate all of their old mortgages into a single mortgage. The MC would use its remaining $3 million to finish its Jackson-East Cairo line and the NOJ&GN would use its remaining money to upgrade its line. Incidentally, the Mississippi Central Railroad mentioned here had no connection with the Mississippi Central Railroad that was later built between Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Natchez, Mississippi.
IC's management was ridiculed at the time for making such a huge financial investment in the MC and NOJ&GN, since the finances of both railroads was extremely shaky. Indeed, both railroads eventually defaulted on their mortgage payments and in February 1876, were forced into receivership. In 1877 auctions were scheduled for both roads. IC was determined not to lose its investments in the MC and NOJ&GN, but was blocked from purchasing the railroads directly due to laws in several Southern states limiting the ownership of railroads by out-of-state companies. So the IC formed the Chicago, St. Louis & New Orleans Railroad, a wholly owned subsidiary that was chartered in Kentucky. It was the CStL&NO which in 1877 bought the MC and NOJ&GN. In 1882 the CStL&NO was leased by the IC for 400 years and ceased to exist as an operating railroad.
Illinois Central's management wisely kept the CStL&NO in existence as a "paper railroad", a decision which would greatly benefit the road in later years. During the late 1880's the IC began making plans to build a bridge across the Ohio River at Cairo, to eliminate the need to ferry cars across the river. However, the entire Ohio River lies within the state of Kentucky, and the IC was an Illinois corporation and thus could not build the Cairo bridge itself. So, the IC turned the project over to the CStL&NO. The Cairo bridge was completed in late 1889, giving the IC an uninterrupted rail link between Chicago and St. Louis. IC later called upon the CStL&NO to carry out other construction projects, including the Kentucky portion of the Edgewood Cutoff and some of the work on the new Paducah shops in 1925-1927.
By 1900 the IC had expanded its system south of the Mason-Dixon line to include Louisville, Vicksburg, and Baton Rouge. Hundreds of miles of new track were laid in each state the railroad traversed and several existing railroads were bought and merged. The railroad expanded into the rich coal mines in western Kentucky and the fertile delta farming regions in Mississippi. Eventually the state of Mississippi encompassed nearly 30 percent of all IC trackage, second only to Illinois as the state with the most IC trackage.
The railroad's management was wise enough to realize that in order to increase profits, it had to do more than just add new trackage. It had to increase the productivity of the farmers and factories in the region. A research bureau was created to work with farmers to develop several new crops and make farming more efficient and profitable. Likewise, the railroad worked with industry to develop new manufacturing processes and locate sites for new plants. The Illinois Central also can be credited with making bananas such a popular fruit. Prior to the early 1900's few folks in the U.S. had ever seen or tasted a banana, which would easily spoil when shipped by conventional methods. Around 1900 the IC began using refrigerated reefers to ship the fruit from New Orleans to Chicago. Demand for the fruit grew rapidly and within a few years dedicated "banana trains" were roaring north.
Several fine books on the history of the Illinois Central RR have already been published, particularly Carlton J. Corliss' "Main Line of Mid-America: The Story of the Illinois Central", and John F. Stover's "History of the Illinois Central Railroad". These two books belong on the shelf of any IC fan and are recommended for those persons who desire a more in-depth history of IC's rich history in the South. Instead of attempting to present another text history of the IC, this book seeks to provide a pictorial look at IC's operations from Cairo south to New Orleans. A wide variety of railroading was found in this region, including the high speed City of New Orleans and the all-Pullman Panama Limited. One could also find numerous coal drags plus a wide variety of locomotives. Thanks to the ability of the Paducah shops to take old steamers and transform them into powerful and fast machines, the IC was able to delay dieselization until 1960, one of the last Class One railroads to completely dieselize. Then, just a few years after dieselization, the Paducah shops were called upon to rebuild the very diesels that had replaced the steamers. The author trusts that the reader will enjoy this colorful review of the diverse rolling stock, train operations, and geography found on the southern half of the Illinois Central Railroad.
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