A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad


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The Chicago and Eastern Illinois was a Class I railroad that linked Chicago to southern Illinois, St. Louis, and Evansville. Founded in 1877 it grew aggressively and stayed relatively strong throughout the Great Depression and two World Wars before being purchased by the Missouri Pacific Railroad (MP, or MoPac) and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N). MoPac merged the C&EI corporate entity in 1976.(wik)
The C&EI participate in the Chicago - St. Louis competitive race and in 1940 had two trains to St. Louis. The "Zipper" from Dearborn Street Station in Chicago with a very quick 5 hour pace to St. Louis. The Zipper had an observation parlor car and cafe lounge and reclining seat coaches on its fast afternoon run. The "Silent Night" was its sleeper to St. Louis.
The primary route, however, was to Terre Haute and Evansville where the C&EI handed over the "Dixie" trains (Limited, Mail, Flyer, land and Flagler) to the Louisville and Nashville, and other southeastern railroads, for continuation to Gulf Coast ports, such as New Orleans, and Florida destinations.
By the 1950's the St. Louis passenger trains were gone however the Florida Dixie trains were still running.
Chicago & Eastern Illinois
Chicago & Eastern Illinois
Sept 28, 1940

A Short History of the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad

The C&EI Chicago to Evansville line was created from the consolidation of several railroads
1849 - Evansville & Illinois Railroad chartered to operate from Evansville to Vincennes, Indiana.
1854 - Evansville & Terre Haute Railroad, Terre Haute to Evansville
1871 - Chicago Danville & Vincennes, Chicago to Danville, Illinois
1871 - Evansville Terre Haute & Chicago Railroad, Danville to Terre Haute, Indiana
1871 - Through passenger service Chicago to Evansville
1881 - C&EI formed and exercised some financial control of the above railroads
1890's - Chicago & Indiana Coal Railroad absorbed by C&EI giving it a second main line La Crosse Indiana to Evansville, with the connection at Momence, Illinois
1900 - Line to Thebes, in Southern Illinois, completed. C&EI becoming a coal carrier and a bridge route to southern railroads.
1902 - Cotton Belt (St.L-SW) and C&EI collaborate to start building the Thebes bridge, over the Mississippi River
1902 - Frisco (StL-SF) purchases controlling interest in C&EI and stops southern expansion
1904 - C&EI uses CCC&StL (Big Four) trackage, from Finlay Jct., to reach St. Louis
1905 - Thebes bridge completed
1902-1910 - Frisco exploits C&EI financially
1911 - C&EI consolidated the Evansville lines
1913 - Frisco and C&EI go into bankruptcy
1914-1918 - Heavy traffic during WW1 but C&EI still in receivership
1920 - C&EI back on it's own.
1922 - Secondary main spun off to Chicago Attica and Southern as C&EI comes out of receivership
1930's - C&O buying up C&EI stock.
1933 - C&EI back into receivership (The great depression)
1940 - C&EI back in private hands
1940's - "Dixie Flagler" is pulled by streamlined steam 4-6-2 Pacific locomotives on all the railroads hosting this train to Florida; C&EI, L&N, NC&StL, AB&C, ACL and FEC.
1941-1945 - C&EI prospers during WW2 years
1950 - C&EI completely dieselized, very early for a class 1
1954 - C&EI gains own access to St. Louis.
1967 - Missouri Pacific acquires C&EI
1969 - Evansville line acquired by L&N and MoPac & L&N share line into Chicago
1976 - MoPac merges C&EI
1982- L&N merged into CSX
1997 - MoPac merged into Union Pacific
2008 - UP & CSX jointly operate out of Chicago to Danville

Chicago & Eastern Illinois
Chicago & Eastern Illinois - 1940
Later History of C&EI
Various merger offers were explored, and again, it was a southwest road that found itself threatened by these overtures. In 1961 the Missouri Pacific began secretly (and illegally) buying C&EI stock. When the Missouri Pacific requested ICC permission to takeover the C&EI, the federal agency turned a blind eye to the illegalities; approved the takeover of the C&EI with the stipulation that the Evansville line be sold to the L&N; and effectively deprived C&EIís other stockholders of stock profits. In short, the Missouri Pacific got the C&EI for cheap.
On May 12, 1967, the Missouri Pacific assumed control of the C&EI. And, on June 6, 1969, the Louisville & Nashville purchased the 206-mile Woodland Junction- Evansville leg along with trackage rights from Woodland to Chicago. Then on October 15, 1976, what remained of the C&EI was merged into the Missouri Pacific.
Today, only a very small portion of the C&EI has been abandoned, that being primarily in Southern Illinois and Indiana. At the beginning of the 21st century the ex-C&EI trackage continues to be used by the Union Pacific (ex-Missouri Pacific) and CSX Transportation (ex-L&N). CP Rail also has trackage rights on the line with their
acquisition of the Soo Line (former Milwaukee rights). Their Chicago to Louisville trains operate daily on the old C&EI line. The heavily used line from Chicago to Woodland Junction, nearly 50 trains per day travel on double track mainline, is well worth a visit by any rail fan.(hs)

CE&I Chicago to St. Louis Speeds 60 or over - 1940
The C&EI Zipped along with its "Zipper" train to and from St. Louis recording some relatively high speeds. Here is a recap.
Train#From CityTo CityMilesMin.mph
Zipper 20 Villa Grove Chicago Ht's 118.5 102 69.7
Zipper 21 Chicago Ht's Villa Grove 118.5 107 66.4
Zipper 20 Sullivan Tuscola 22.7 21 64.9
Zipper 21 Tuscola Sullivan 22.7 21 64.9
Zipper 21 Pana Hillsboro 27.3 26 63.0
Zipper 20 Pans Sullivan 29 28 62.1
Zipper 21 Sullivan Pana 29 29 60.0
Average Speed 367.7 334 66.1

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
Scriptophily.com (certificate)
Chicago and Eastern Illinois Historical Society(hs)
Classic Trains - Kalmbach Publishing Co.-summer 2006
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright © Richard Parks, March 3, 2011, revised April 24. 2011