East Alton to Hillsboro

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This railroad line was built in 1855 by the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway, which merged with other local railroads to form the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and Saint Louis Railway, "The Big Four". The line changed hands again in 1906 when the New York Central purchased the CCC&StL.

Date of abandonment of the line is not known.

This line was built by the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad. In January 1851, the Illinois legislature chartered the Terre Haute and Alton, and construction began in 1852. George H. Drury, in "The Historical Guide to North American Railroads", reports that the expectation of its builders was that Alton would be more important than St. Louis. On March 1, 1856, the main line from Terre Haute, Indiana, to Alton, Illinois, was completed. Through the usual nineteenth century process of corporate combinations and financial failures, this line came into the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis in July 1882. In 1889 that railroad was consolidated into the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway. John Szawjkart, in "Train Watcher's Guide to St. Louis", reports that "about 1900" the railroad built the Pana Sub, a new route from Hillsboro to Mitchell. This new route was a shortcut to St. Louis. Szawjkart reports that "...the original main was relegated to local service and slowly abandoned." Drury reports that New York Central leased the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis in 1930.

Richard Gilpin
St Louis, MO
4/11/2012

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I am about the last NYC trainman alive that worked this line. My Dad worked it through the 1940's and 50's. I hired in 1962 and worked it with him up until close to the end around 1982. I can probably get the exact date from my old time book. They opened the "Short Line " for the St Louis World's Fair in 1904. I have several old pictures of them digging at Hillsboro building the new route. I have some pictures of Hillsboro, Litchfield,Hornsby,East Gillispie, Gillispie,Bunker Hill Dorsey, Bethalto, and East Alton.

James K. Arnett
Brownsburg, IN
3/9/2013

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Interesting comments by Mr. Gilpin and Mr. Arnett. I'm working on a history of the original main line between Hillsboro and Butler, which is now a hiking trail. By "Short Line", do you mean what became the main line and still serves as such between Hillsboro and St. Louis? If there are pictures of the construction of the main line near Hillsboro, I'm sure the Montgomery County Historical Society would be interested. My recollection is that the use of the old main line ended in the late 1960's. Do you think that this line was actually in use until 1982?

Mark Joy
Hillsboro, IL
6/8/2013

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The previous comment is by Mark Joy. For some reason my name didn't show up on the post.

Mark Joy
Hillsboro, IL
6/8/2013

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I was reading the comments and they stirred warm memories. I grew up literally within 100 feet of the railroad line.

I remember the old steam engine and how it shook the house as it went by.

Later on the train would go by at the exact same time at night to let me know it was time to fall asleep.

I used to walk from home to "downtown" on the tracks.

Rick Roth
Gillespie
6/29/2013

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I love reading the comments and looking at the information. I am interested in collecting as much information as possible from Illinois and especially personal experiences. I only have bits of information I can get online. Would anyone like to share with me? I stumbled on to this site because I am researching abandoned rail cities and this one seems to be linked to Anderson in Macoupin county (very hard to locate 39.344 -89.845).

Arturo
Chicago, IL
8/3/2013

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Mr. Joy, I have done some searching and found that the NYC ran a eastbound Passinger Train over the Old Line from St Louis- East Alton -Hillsboro back in 1934. it doesn't show a westbound at that time, just East. In employees Timetable # 4 dated Sept. 30, 1934 shows Train # 2 The Indianapolis Special departing St Louis at 615 am daily except Sunday stopping in East Alton at 705am-Bethalto-715am-Moro-718am-Dorsey 726am Bunker Hill 737am Dorchester 746am Gillispie 756am Hornsby 805am Litchfield 825am Butler 837am arriving Hillsboro 850am Mattoon 1045am. Number 2 was not in the Timetable on TT # 18 June 22, 1941. They ran a Mixed train with a Coach on the rear of Local # 56 & 57 until TT # 20 dated June 7, 1942 56 & 57 ran daily except Sundays. # 57 was Westbound and #56 Eastbound. I'm still looking for the date on last train out of Hillsboro the date of the first train down the short line in 1904.

James K. Arnett
Brownsburg, IN
10/12/2013

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