A Midwest Regional Interuran Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Illinois Traction System
Illinois Terminal Railroad (1937)


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Illinois Traction
Illinois Traction System
May 8, 1928

Precursor to the Illinois Terminal System the Illinois Traction System, an affiliate of the Illinois Power and Light Company, was formed by William McKinley in the early 1900's as a consolidation of several smaller interurban traction railroads. The ITS, at its height, provided electric passenger rail service to 550 miles (900 km) of tracks in central and southern Illinois. The system's Y-shaped main lines stretched from St. Louis to Springfield and Peoria, Illinois, from Springfield to Decatur and Danville, and from Decatuir to Bloomington and Peoria, with many small branches. A series of affiliated street-level city trolley lines provided local passenger service in many of the cities served by the main lines. The longest-lived segment of the line descended from an Edwardsville-Alton interurban line bought by the Illinois Traction System in 1928.
With the Great Depression, the Illinois Traction System staggered. The ITS relinquished many of its city street trolleys in the 1930s, and was forced to cut its ties with an affiliated firm that provided electrical utility services.


Illinois Terminal
Illinois Terminal
September 29, 1946
The passenger railroad reorganized in 1937 as the Illinois Terminal Railroad (ITR) and continued to provide electric-powered, long-distance passenger service through downstate Illinois for almost another two decades.
The Illinois Terminal generally did it with style and panache. Parlor cars sported mahogany and Spanish leather. Its electric freight motors, whether in Brewster green or "traction orange", were distinctly IT. GP7's wore an eye catching green and yellow paint scheme when black and white was the norm, if not the rule. SW1200's spent nearly as much time in through-freight service as in the yards switching. Its six-axle diesel locomotives were SD39's.
Short history of the Illinois Traction System (ITS) and Illinois Terminal Railroad (ITR)
The ITS/ITR when fully developed by William McKinlry interests in the early years of theTwentieth Century consisted of many small interuran lines and city street car lines which consolidated into the ITS forming three main lines (1) Springfield east to Decatur, Champaign-Urbana and Danville, (2) Decatur north and west to Bloomington and Peoria and (3) Peoria south and west to Springfield and St. Louis.
Springfield to Danville segment
The earliest lines centered around Danville. Many of the lines used city streets with sharp curves.
1901 - Danville to Westville completed.
1902 - Line extended to Georgetown.
1902 - Catlin branch completed
1902 - Main completed Champaign to St. Joseph.
1903 - Main complrtrd east to Danville.
1904 - Homer branch completed.
1904 - Decatur to Springfield completed.
1905 - Branch extended to Ridge Farm.
1907 - Decatur - Champaign line completed and Springfield Danville main is operating.
Decatur, Bloomington, Peoria segment
1905 - L ine north from Decatur to Clinton completed.
1906 - Main extended to Bloomington.
1907 - Bloomington to Peoria completed finishing the Decatur - Peoria main.
Peoria, Springfield and St. Louis segment
1904 - Springfield to Carlinville completed.
1905 - Staunton and Edwardsville reached.
1905 - Hillsboro branch opened.
1906 - Southwest line reaches Granite City.
1906 - Trackage rights otained over the East St. Louis and Suurban to enter St. Louis.
Illinoin Tracrion Map
Illinois Traction Map - 1928
1906 - Sprigfield north to Lincoln completed.
1908 - Line north from Lincoln to Mackinaw Jct. on the Bloomington-Peoria main is completed. Trains now run from Peoria to St. Louis.
1910- McKinley bridge over Mississippi River brings ITS into St. Louis on its own tracks eliminating need to use ESL&S trackage.
The Illinois Traction System.
1904 - All of the above lines were controlled by the Illinois Traction Company organized in 1904 and operasted as the Illinois Traction System (ITS).
1923 - Direct control of ITS transferred to a new company Illinois Traction Inc. which ws a subsidiary of the Illinois Power and Light Company whose capital stock was owned by the Illinois Traction Company.
cir 1923 - McKinley enters political arena and the Studebaker (of car fame) takes control of ITS.
1926 - Samuel Insull gains partial interest but Studebaker retains management.control.
mid 1920's - ITS acquires several terminal properties in the area east of St. Louis; (1) the Alton, Graniite and St. Louis. This line was built in 1895 and was the earliest interurban precursor of ITS and gaave it access to Alton and a second line to Edwardsville. (2) a portion of the ESL&S to Lebanon and (3) the steam lines St; Louis Troy and Eastern and the Alton and Eastern. ITS terminal interchange buisness grows.
1927 - Belt line around Champaign using IC trackage.
1928 - ITS operates frequent passenger train servicve on all three main lines. The Peoria-St. Louis main had limited trains with parlor, parl;or-buffet and/or sleeping cars.onnecting train service to the Hillsoro, Mechanicsurg and Homer branches was provided.
1931-37 - Belt lines completed around Decatur, Springfield, Urbana and Edwardsville speed freight interchange.
1929 - Homer branch interurban service ends.
1930's - Depression forces ITS to relinquish many city street car lines.
1930's - ITS power plants spun off to form Illinois Power and Light Company.
1935 - Interurban service on Hillsboro branch ends.
1936 - Danville-Ridge Farm interurban service ends.
Illinois Terminal Railroad (ITR)
1937 - ITS reorganized as the Illinois Terminal Railroad (ITR), taking the name of one of the terminal railroads that was purchased and recognizing its new emphasis toward terminal switching and freight interchange.
1938 - New Springfield stationrlimenated street running.
1937-1956 - ITR provides long distance passenger services which decline with increased use of automobiles.
1939 - Danville-Catlin interurban service ends.
1953 - Danvillr-Champaign and Decatur-Bloomington-Peoria interurban service ends.
1955 - Champaign-Decatur-Springfield interurban service ends.
1956 - Peoria-Springfield-Granite City passenger service ends.
1956 - Passenger service ended.
1956 - Nine class 1 railroads join in acquiring ITR and operate it as a diesel powered short line.
1956-1981 - ITR operates diesel powered freight traffic north and east of St. Louis, acting as a connector for its host railroads.
1981 - Norfolk & Western purchases all interests in ITR.
1982 - Illinois Terminal formerly merged into N&W.
1982 - N&W and Southern merge as Norfolk-Southern.
Current - Some Illinois Terminal Railroad and its affiliated lines have become rail-trails, such as the Interurban Trail south of Springfield.

Illinois Terminal mapp
Illinois Terminal Map from Timetable - 1946


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April various editions
Illinois Terminal Historical Society (ITHS)
The Electric Interurban Railways in America, Hilton and Due (due)
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 27 2009, revised June 8, 2011