A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago and St. Louis Railroad
(Big Four Route)


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The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, (Big Four Route) (CCC&StL), was formed by a consolidation of four Midwest regional railroads serving the principal cities of Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and St. Louis. It's major through lines were from Cleveland through Columbus to Cincinnati, Cleveland & Indianapolis to St. Louis, Chicago & Indianapolis to Cincinnati, and Cincinnati to Detroit. It also served as a starting railroad for Florida trains, The "Royal Palm", The Ponce de Leon" and the "Florida Sunbeam" from Chicago, which completed their runs on the Southern, Seaboard and/or the Florida East Coast Railroads. In 1941 a fast streamliner train the "James Whitcomb Riley" ran from Chicago to Cincinnati behind both streamlined steam and new diesel-electric motive power. The Big Four became part of the New York Central System, and served as the NYC's portal to reach Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and St. Louis from New York and Buffalo.(rp)
The Big Four once operated a terminal at Bellefontaine, Ohio which included the largest roundhouse in use at that time between New York and St. Louis. The railroad was headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, at 105 S. Meridian Street. As of 2007 the building previously known as the Big Four Building is a Hampton Inn hotel.(wik)(rp)
Big Four Route
Big Four Route
August 8, 1937

Early history of the Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago and St. Louis Railroad
(Big Four Route)

1889 - Merger of (1) Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway, (2) Cincinnati Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway, and (3) Indianapolis and St. Louis Railway, formed the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, the Big Four.
1890 - Control of Indiana Bloomington and Western Railway is obtained
1906 - The Big Four was acquired by the New York Central Railroad.
1968 - NYC and Pennsy merge into Penn-Central
1976 - Penn-Central merged into Conrail
1998 - Most old NYC lines (Conrail) merged into CSX

History of the Cleveland Columbus Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway (CCC&I)
1851 - Cleveland Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad builds line from Cleveland to Columbus
1853 - Columbus and Springfield Railroad builds from London and Columbus
1862 - Springfield Mt. Vernon & Pittsburgh acquired (line from Springfield through Marysville to Delaware, Ohio)
1868 - Bellefontaine Railroad acquired. (Line to Indianapolis) Name changed to Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railroad
1872 - CCC&I gains control of Cincinnati & Springfield and Cincinnati Sandusky and Cleveland Railroads, completing Cleveland to Cincinnati line
1872 - Columbus and Springfield becomes part of CCC&I closing gap to Columbus, and making Marysville line a secondary.
1889 - CCC&I merged into CCC&SL (Big Four)

History of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway
1846 - Indianapolis and Cincinnati Railroad founded, initially, 1850-1853, as the Lawrenceburg and Upper Mississippi Railroad
1850 - Lafayette & Indianapolis Railroad founded
1861 - Cincinnati and Indiana Railroad founded
1867 - Above three roads merged as Indianapolis Cincinnati and Lafayette Railroad. Line operated from Cincinnati through Indianapolis to Lafayette, Indiana
1880 - After foreclosure reorganization name changed to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway
1880's CISL&C controls several other smaller railroads in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois
1889 - CISL&C merged into CCC&SL (Big Four)

History of the Indiana Bloomington and Western Railway
1866 - Indianapolis Crawfordsville and Danville Railroad incorporated
1866 - Danville Urbana Bloomington and Pekin Railway Incorporated
1869 - Above roads merged as Indiana Bloomington and Western Railway
1869 - IB&W opens Pekin, llinois to Indianapolis
1879 - IB&W foreclosed and reorganized
1881 - IB&W merged with Ohio Indiana and Pacific Railway, but retained it's IB&W name.
1883 - Line extended from Indianapolis to Springfield
1887 - Foreclosure and reorganization as Ohio Indiana and Western Railway.
1889 - Foreclosure again. Line west from Indianapolis goes to Peoria and Eastern Railway, while newer eastern track, from Indianapolis, goes to CCC&SL (Big Four).

Big Four map


Big Four Train Speeds - Chicago to Cincinnati - 1943
The Big Four had no sixty plus speed runs out of Chicago in 1940, but in 1941 they had introduced the James Whitcomb Riley with a streamlined steam Hudson or new diesel-electrics pulling it on the run to Cincinnati. In 1943 it sixty plus speeds were as follows:
Train#From CityTo CityMilesMin.mph
James Whitcomb Riley 3 Indianapolis Lafayette 64.4 61 63,3
James Whitcomb Riley 3 Cincinnati Indianapolis 108.9 105 62.2

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
Guide to Railroad History Materials in Manuscript and Visual Collections at the Indiana Historical Society (ihs)
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Richard Parks

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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 27, 2009, revised May 9, 2011