Wednesday, January 11, 2017

LaSalle and Bureau County Railroad

LaSalle County Historical Society Museum posted
I include the posted text because I'm not confident the link in the caption is permanent.
~The LaSalle and Bureau County Railroad Company~
"The LS&BC served mines in the LaSalle area of northern Illinois"
"The LaSalle and Bureau County Railroad Company operated 15 miles of track in north central Illinois. The "Bee" (as it was called locally) was founded in 1892 (The LS&BC was incorporated in 1892 in the state of Illinois and opened for service in October 1893. )to provide a connection for the zinc mines of LaSalle, IL to the neighboring railroads.
In LaSalle, the LS&BC connected with the Illinois Central's "Gruber Line" at Midway. The line then went west to a wye (called Hegeler), where it connected with the Streator-Zearing branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, along with the DeKalb-Spring Valley branch of the Chicago and North Western. The LS&BC then had to complete a "flatland switchback" in order to gain access to the New York Central's Illinois Division track (at Churchill), which provided the LS&BC with access to Ladd, IL.
After the Rock Island folded in the early 1980s, the LS&BC took over some of the switching operations on the south side of Chicago. The LS&BC also operated some former Milwaukee Road trackage around Mendota after Milwaukee's retrenchment, but that service was eventually taken over by the Burlington Northern.
Operations at LaSalle lasted until 1986, at which time the ICG abandoned the Gruber Line, stranding the LS&BC. The last day of operation was March 25, 1986.
Besides having a purple Baldwin switcher, the LS&BC was also famous for being involved in a boxcar theft scandal from the Penn Central Railroad in the early 1970s. Apparently, the LS&BC purchased some boxcars from the Penn Central to refurbish and put into service to earn "per diem" charges. The PC delivered the boxcars, but more and more boxcars kept showing up until the LS&BC was literally plugged with them. The PC accused the LS&BC of stealing them, but the LS&BC wondered how they could steal things that were given to them. A series of articles in THE NEW YORK TIMES from March 19, March 20, and June 17, 1971, state that the boxcars were purchased by an outside company and the LS&BC was contracted to repair the boxcars.
A somewhat different explanation is told in The Wreck of the Penn Central by Joseph Daughen. The book indicates that the PC had such bad records and control of its own equipment that they (Penn Central) had no idea where their rolling stock was at."
http://www.trainweb.org/lsbc/
The "trainweb" link indicates that after the ICG isolated the western operations, the south Chicago operations became the Chicago Rail Link.

Of particular interest to me is that the LS&BC served zinc mines. There were also coal mines in the area, but evidently the Class I railroads served those mines. I was curious where Illinois Zinc and Maze Nails got their zinc.

This railroad is not on the 1928 RR Atlas. That does not surprise me because the scale of those maps is one state per page. It is on the SPV Map, just not labeled. Google Maps don't have a "Midway, IL" and Bing maps shows it is south of Danville, IL. Then it occurred to me to check TrainWeb for a map. It turns out, Midway is around where I-80 crosses Raccuglia Drive and the LS&BC curves away from the IC. The land scars of both railroads are still quite evident on satellite images.

Since LS&BC had a connection to IR/CB&Q, they could have stayed in business after the IC abandonment. But like many railroads in the 1980s, the LS&BC probably wanted any excuse to abandon their operations. It appears a remnant east of the IR/CB&Q was retained to allow IR to serve a relatively new industrial park north of I-80.

Satellite
I wonder if this land scar is the "Matthiessen-Hegeler Zinc Mill (Carus Chemical)" facility indicated on the above referenced map. I suspect that the "white line" on the right is the old IC RoW and the tree line on the left is the old LS&BC RoW.
1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
I believe this old aerial photo confirms my analysis of the satellite image.
Update:
William Wozniak posted
March 1986,LaSalle and Bureau County #8 sitting on the siding on The Rock island, waiting pickup from The Cat for tow back to Chicago as LS&BC folded up operations after the ICG abandoned The Amboy District in 1985. Rock Island Freight House in the background.....(D. Woz photo)
Daniel Gless Baldwin.William Wozniak Yes Carus was in operation then, and still is to this day in operation. They toyed with the idea of resuming rail service, but never resurrected. Peru bought the LS&BC for future service, which is now Illinois Railway and connects into the OLE BN Zearing-Streator branch. LaSalle should have kept their portion of the line. They tore out the track in 1988.
Mark Baker's album of 1978 maps showing old rr branches & spurs. (Permlink of posting)

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