The Millstadt Branch
This railroad line was built in 1883 by the St. Louis and Cairo Railroad, which later became the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. According to local history, on April 2, 1912, a derailment occurred on the line west of Millstadt in which the engineer, William Strauss, and the brakeman, Arthur Swinderman, were killed.
The tracks were abandoned in 1961 as railroad service to Millstadt ended.
The Millstadt branch, as it was known, left the mainline of the Gulf Mobile and Ohio Railroad at Millstadt Junction, just a few miles southeast of Dupo, Illinois. It was a difficult line to build, in regard to the karst landscape which it crosses. In January of 1945, the branch was sold by the GM&O to organizers from the Millstadt area and became known as the Columbia and Millstadt Railroad Company. Indeed, in 1961, the tracks were finally abandoned back to Millstadt Junction. The mainline through Millstadt Junction, which crossed the Missouri Pacific line near Dupo, and continued north to st. louis on its own right of way, saw its final train on August 2nd of 1985. This route was known as the "Sparta district" and hosted primarily coal trains and light local freight traffic. The rails at the once busy Millstadt Junction were lifted in April of 1986, ending over a century of service and tradition.
Hello, Brian has it like it was, except the C&M RR did not go to Dupo. That Spur was put in about 1930 to Columbia Quarry. If you look at the map and find Columbia Quarry Rd that big body of water North from there is where the Quarry is. West from there where it says Quarry Rd which is built on the right of way West to N. Illinois Rte.3. At that point at old Rte.3 and Gent Rd is about where Millstadt Junction was. I remember when it was picked up. The MP spur lasted to about middle 60's Also at Millstadt Junction from about 1913 to around 1931 You could catch the E. ST Louis Columbia, Waterloo street car. My brother told me once that seen a car load of new Ford's cars sent to Mertz Motor Co at Millstadt.
There is a building in Millstadt that LOOKS like it was once a depot, and LOOKS like it was located next to the railroad right-of-way. Could it be? God bless.
Odd. Was just discussing this subject "Millstadt Junction" yesterday with my wife, as we walked the old GM&O roadbed that's now a walking trail. The city of Columbia is thinking about extending it from the Millstadt Junction area to Highway 3, or where the old R.R. Bridge crossed over the highway. I had the pleasure of working on the GM&O line. Beginning from Venice, Il., for the most part to "Sparta, Il" and "Percy, Il", though I have been as far as "Tamms, Il". There's still a couple of old telegraph poles standing in the woods. next to the old road bed. These poles according to the oldest and last steam engineer "Mr. Hoover", or "Toot", as we called him once stood next to the original road bed, as there was one before this one. We walked from Millstadt Junction, to the end of the trail arriving in the middle of town where it ended, across from "Turner Hall". The rest of the roadbed south is just waiting to be turned into a great walking/biking trail. "Toot", knew just about every thing about this piece of track, having been born in the town of "Oryville, Il", south of Sparta, Il., and ran the "GM&O" Rebel. His father was a Operator for the R.R., in this town. He told me many stories, and pointed out numerous points of historical interest along the track, including old telegraph poles. Though rotten and ready to fall, they were a part of the original road bed. I was the assigned "Fireman" with Toot, on many times and also was used as the engineer, numerous times when Toot was absent. I loved every minute spent on these rails, and I have almost perfect recall of every twist, curve, and hill, between East St. Louis, Il, and Percy, Il.... My wife and later drove to what was refereed to as "Castle Rock House" by railroad men, probably from the turn of the century. It's located just south of Columbia, and it's possible to see the old bed yet very well as you look through the trees. The roadbed at this location in front of Castle Rock House is being used as part of the existing road, but follows the old road bed exactly almost all the way to "New Hanover" bridge. Of course the tracks ran under this bridge leading towards "Waterloo, Il". It was along this piece of track that Toot loved pointing out old Telegraph poles, and they're still standing.... I hired out on the GM&O R.R. North, in 1967, working at Venice as a "Switchman", after five years in the Air Force. Six months later I was given the opportunity enter Engine Service, and thirteen months later I was promoted to Engineer. I worked in the yard at Venice, Il, and at Wann, Il, and Alton, Il until 1974 when the "Illinois Central and GM&O merged, becoming the "IC&G". It was with this merger, that senority was altered, and we all found ourselves having to learn new territory, and trackage. The merger was a real opportunity to experience this wonderful piece of track. As time went on, the IC, RR., decided it was going to leave East St. Louis, and once agin I and many others found ourselves having to make life altering decisions. I decided to remain in East St. Louis, and work for the "CM&W R.R", a new short line covering basically the old GM&O trackage from Venice, north to Chicago, and west K.C.... I gained a lot of seniority and for it's short life, I never lost a day, but it was going under quickly and soon declared "Chapter 9", within less than two years after it had begun. I received an offer to work with the "Southern Pacific R.R.", which I took immediately and after about three years, the "Union Pacific R.R." decided to merge with the S.P..... As a result, I completed thirty seven and one half years with the railroad industry, retiring from "Dupo, Il", ten years. Never lost a day, worked with some great fellows, but most of all, I got to experience the GM&O trackage I did.... It's so sad now to see it so overgrow and altered. However, in my mind, it still remains just as it was. As I walked the old road bed yesterday with my wife, those memories were every as vivd as when I experienced them, and I could almost hear Toot's R.R. history lesson once again.
I was metal detecting near one of the mills in Millstadt and uncovered a baggage claim brass tag from the mobile and Ohio rr St. Louis,mo.
To any of you GM&O rail buff's. Does Amtrak still run a train from Chicago to St. Louis yet? Back in the old days like 1973, I was able to take an Amtrak train from Milwaukee to St. Louis, which out of Chicago used the GM&O ROW to St. Louis. I enjoyed the ride, Good steady speed south bound, till we got close to Alton or East Alton. Tracks rough to St. Louis. I all so enjoyed going through Springfield, I believe it ran down the middle of 3rd St and seeing the Capital Building while looking west from the train.
I looked at topographical maps from the early 20th century and confirmed that, yes indeed this railroad does not go to Dupo at all. It is Columbia (specifically, Millstadt Junction) to Millstadt. My own tracing is on the link below.