Vincennes, IN to Cairo, IL

Point of Interest

Map submitted by Mike Fromholt, Lee M.

(Forwarded from the Cairo, Vincennes & Chicago Railway)

This line was first built as the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad and was constructed between 1870 and 1874. After a series of mergers and reorganizations via the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway in 1881; the Cairo, Vincennes and Chicago Railway in 1889; the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway; and the New York Central Railroad in 1906, the line ended up under ownership of the Southern Railway, who abandoned this portion of the line between Vincennes, IN and Mount Carmel, IL. The rest of the line continues to see use today.

Thanks to Mitch Jorstad for contributing information about this route.

Most of this line is abandoned. There is a trail on at least part of it.

Cleveland, MS


Tunnel Hill Trail, runs from Karnak to Eldorado. Would love to see them extend it all the way to Vincennes

Evansville, IN


No kidding. The entire line has been abandoned except for about 6 miles from Mt. Carmel to Keensburg, and about 1 mile in Carmi.

Tommy Young
Paris, TN


cairo still has a street track

morton, IL


This line is mostly abandoned. The Egyptian Passenger Train used to run until the mid 1950's. It consisted of sleepers and coaches. It stopped at every small tow, even Texas City, Gossett, etc, for passengers going all the way to Chicago or transferring to a train on the Big Four St. Louis Division to Indianapolis.

Only a mile in carmi, joint track with Evansvile and Western, and Six miles south of Mount Carmerl exist, to serve the now closed coal mine at Keensburg. Some of the highway overpasses are removed, as one with an extremely low clearance in Norris City, and others in Crossville, where the line is on a high embankment. Before Cable TV, antennas had to be very tall in Crossville to receive any TV signals because of the embankment.

There were some wooden camelback bridges of minor roads over the track, particularly north of Eldorado near Junction Illinois 141 and US 45. The old yard in Harrisburg, where coal cars were stored and filled, is not gone, turned into a shopping center with wal mart nearby. Spur tracks to mines west of town are gone.

Illinois Departmetn of Natural Resources now maintains the right of way south as Tunnel Hill State Trail. There is one 500-ft long tunnel at Tunnel Hill. A replica of a railroad depot at Vienna serves as trail headquarters. Several bridges have been restored.

Tyhe bridge over the Wabash River at St. Francisville, the "Wabash Cannonball Bridge" has been restored and is open to one-way-at-a-time traffic. There are no traffic lights on the bridge, just Yield signs. Vehicles must drive with lights on so as to be seen by oncoming traffic. There is a toll of 50 cents each way for cars, to maintain the bridge. The toolbooth is a yard-barn building south of the bridge on a two lane stretch of blacktop. The road is a minor road toward Vincinnes. The bridge was purcased bya group of farmers when Penn Central abandoned the railroad, to cross the river with farm machinery.

George Carlisle
Urbana, IL


cairo li has street track and also why

is there a ic caboose there

morton, IL


The concrete bridge over the Coffee Creek north of Keensburg is starting to wash out. There is still track down here. as that is the access for the (closed) mine at Keensburg. If the ever reopen the mine, the will have to rebuild the bridge. No doubt that the spring floods will do even more damage. I can remember a few trains on the line in the 70's, mostly short locals with a switch engine.

John Saniel-Banrey
Ostrander, OH


Part of the track still exists around Mounds City. Portions to the north (about a mile or less), and portions to the south running beside the Ohio River. It is use by the two grain elevators in town now to store and dump grain hoppers.

Part of the line still exist's on the west side of Cairo as well. most of it is no bad shape, and choked with weeds.

Bart Hileman
Jonesboro, IL


I would like information on the Southern RR purchasing this line in the 1980's. I understand they planned to rebuild it, and run unit grain trains down to the barge terminal in Mounds City. At the time, Trains magazine ran a photo of a Southern diesel and a business car creeping along the line, surveying it's condition. Whatever happened to Southern's plans to rebuild it?

Brent Staulcup
Metropolis, IL


The Southern did purchase the line in 1982. They promptly upgraded the rail and began hauling coal to Karnak for interchange with the MP/UP. This lasted until late 1988 or 1989. Sahara Coal Co. Number 1 closed and that was the last customer on the line in Saline County, IL.

The line near Mt. Carmel is still intact for a short length down Illinois Highway 1...just to about Keenes IL. There is an idled coal mine there and the trackage ends just south of it. I am not sure of the line's disposition northeast, as it goes to Vincennes, IN.

Thomas Austin
Centralia, IL


Thomas, there is a serious washout at the Coffee Creek bridge just north of the mine at Keensburg. They'll have to do some major work to replace that concrete abutment before they can access the mine if it ever reopens. They do use the line to store some coal hoppers on, and there's a connection to the Gibson power plant east of Mt. Carmel that crosses the Wabash river and enters the plant from the south side. There's a wye just south of Ill. Rt. 1 that's the line to the plant. That line used to go to Evansville, as part of the Evansville, Mt. Carmel, and Northern RR. You can still see a lot of the line on Google Earth.

John Saniel-Banrey
Ohio, OH


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Do you have any pictures or information about Vincennes, IN to Cairo, IL? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.