Thursday, January 26, 2017

C&IM: Chicago & Illinois Midland Railroad

The Chicago & Illinois Midland is not named because of "target" cities like most railroads, but because of the companies that owned it --- Chicago Edison and Illinois Midland Coal. The first segment was chartered by farmers around Pawnee, IL in 1890 to connect that town to IC's Springfield-St. Louis branch that was four miles to the west. Remember, four miles was a significant distance back in the horse & wagon days with muddy roads, and by 1890 the construction of railroads was a well developed enterprise. The connection to the IC was named Pawnee Junction and then Cimic. [American-Rails]

In 1900, F. S. Peabody sent James Kincaid to develop what became Peabody Mines #7, #8 and #10 and the town of Kincaid, IL. Since the market for this coal was Chicago Edison, the two companies formed the C&IM in 1905 and extended the 4-mile railroad east to Kincaid and Taylorville (connections with Wabash and B&O) and west to Auburn (connection with Alton) and Compro (connection with C&NW). (In 1907 Chicago Edison merged with Commonwealth Electric to become Commonwealth Edison.)  The railroad also served the town of Tovey (Italian mine workers) and Bulpitt (Lithuanian mine workers) that were created when Peabody sank Mine #7. [BreezeCourier]

In 1926 they bought the moribund Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis. It connected only the last two names of its title via Springfield. The C&IM retained the north part that was known as the Springfield, Havana & Peoria. The southern part is still shown as C&IM on my 1928 railroad atlas. But it was sold to the Illinois Central. C&IM also acquired CP&StL's one-fourth share of the Peoria & Pekin Union Railway. The C&IM also acquired trackage rights over the IC between Springfield and Cimic to connect its two segments. At this time coal was 90% of the traffic. It was transferred to barges at Havana to serve eleven power generating plants in the Chicago area. Coal was also supplied to a power plant in Pekin. [American-Rails and railroad atlases ]

While studying a satellite map, I noticed that a "mine mouth" plant was built. A 660mw unit came on line in 1967 and a second unit fired up in 1968. [SourceWatch] The irony of being a "mine mouth" plant is that it decided to use low-sulfer coal from Wyoming rather than install sulfur scrubbers. ("Nothing bothers me more than to see trains taking Wyoming coal down to the plant to burn," said Phil Gonet, Illinois Coal Association president. [sj-r]) It still confuses me why plants in other states can afford scrubbers so that they can burn Illinois Basin coal, but Illinois plants can't afford to install scrubbers. So the C&IM started carrying coal in both directions --- Wyoming to the power plant and Peabody #10 coal to the Illinois River. Peabody #10 closed in 1994. [ChicagoTribune]

It was the deregulation act of 1980 that caused ownership of the C&IM to change.
Now that railroads could set their own freight rates C&IM’s parent found it was simply cheaper to contract with other nearby railroads rather than move the black diamonds through a subsidiary.  So, in late 1987 the railroad was sold to private investors and then in 1996 was acquired by short line conglomerate Genesee & Wyoming.  Following G&W's takeover the company was renamed as Illinois & Midland Railroad.  Today, the I&M remains a successful operation witnessing more than 100,000 annual carloads.  However, it no longer handles only coal with traffic consisting of "...agricultural/food products, building materials, wood products, minerals/ores, and municipal/ industrial waste." [American-Rails]
 The I&M also acquired trackage rights on the UP/C&NW between Powerton and Barr for a more direct connection between the Peoria/Pekin area and Springfield. [G&W]

Lance Wales posted
Help with some identification please? Picked up this print at a flea market years ago for $3. Only markings on the back is "Dave Lewis, of Peoria, IL". Obviously it is the C&IM 500 on their passenger train, but where are we? I would guess Havanna, IL or somewhere near, as there are no facilities other than the coal chute and water tank.
[The comments are not conclusive as to where this was. So I can't put it in the Towns and Nature blog without additional research.]
These are two of the three photos that Joe Zeller posted of catching their paint scheme in Barr Yard on the way to another Genesee & Wyoming railroad, Marquette Rail. Note how they just painted green paint over the "C&" when it changed from ownership from Chicago & Illinois Midland to Illinois & Midland.



Steven J. Brown posted four pictures of the coal transloading operation with the comment: "Chicago and Illinois Midland coal dock at Havana, Illinois pics from my dad, Martin Brown. Slide mounts dated August 1967."


  1. The photo of the C&IM 4-4-0 was taken at Salem on the C&IM. It is located just to the railroad south of the Sangamon River crossing. It was the only coaling tower between Springfield and Havana on the C&IM and was located just about half way in between the two cities. It doesnt appear on a map and was just a railroad stop name. It appears in an employee time table for the steam era and was noted that it would hold 15 cars on the siding. This might have been a carry over from the Chicago, Peoria and St. Louis Railroad that the C&IM used.
    As a side note, an former C&IM employee confirmed the location and it was a favorite hangout for the maintenance of way guys when they finished up early for the day long after the water and coaling tower had been removed. He also note that they ended up burning down all the buildings that were there at the orders of the railroad so nothing is left there to see.

    1. Thanks for the info. How far south of the river? I looked at these 1939 aerial photos that cover the area from the river to Oakford and south of Oakford, but I could not find the towers. Even though the resolution of these photos is a lot less than today's satellite images, my experience is that coal and water towers are big and unique enough that they are generally easy to find on these aerials.

  2. This was just past the river bridge from what I been able to determine. This is where the C&IM crossed the river just south of Petersburg. Here is a map of the area.,+IL+62675/@39.9969942,-89.8385246,1435m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x880ab2827e45eca5:0x1a41e36dd0fd528c!8m2!3d40.0117151!4d-89.8481652
    I believe that the coaling tower and water tower were located just to the east of the river bridge by 100 feet. The time table list it as mile post 65 from Peoria with Hurst at MP 64 and Tice at MP 67. Hope this helps..