Monday, November 24, 2014

IC's PD&E: Peoria, Decatur & Evansville Railway Overview

pre-1967 plus paint
In 1857 two charters were granted for railroad lines. They were between Grayville and Mattoon in Illinois and between Grayville and Mount Vernon in Indiana. Both of these charters were met by the Peoria, Decatur & Evansville Railway (PD&E) [AbandonedRails]. The tracks reached Grayville in 1881. [thepde-Grayville] The PD&E became part of the Illinois Central in 1900. In 1969 the Louisville & Nashville RR (L&N) bought the Chicago & Eastern Illinois RR segment from Evansville to Chicago. This removed the L&N traffic on the PD&E from Evansville to Mattoon and was the beginning of the end for this route. A map that has links for each station.

Roger Kujawa shared two images with the comment: "Peoria Decatur and Evansville then the Illinois Central and now What is left, the Canadian National."
Bill Edrington The optimistically-named "Chicago Division" was the former narrow-gauge Danville, Olney & Ohio River Railroad. It was briefly under PD&E ownership; then became part of the Indiana, Decatur & Western, a forerunner of what eventually became the B&O's line between Indianapolis, Decatur and Springfield. Eventually it was broken up into three shortlines: the Kansas & Sidell; the Westfield Railroad; and the Yale Short Line. All were subsequently abandoned. It was surely one of Illinois' most obscure little hard-luck railroads.
Roger Kujawa posted
This is interesting as it shows the future Yale Shortline, the Westfield, and the Kansas and Sidell railroads. I did not know it was originally part of the PD&E.


From a PD&E history, we learn the disposition of the route:
In 1976, the New Harmony branch was taken up. Six years later, another part just a few miles southeast of Mattoon was scrapped. The remaining portion of the line from Mattoon to Evansville would be sold off in chunks by 1990, with most of it being abandoned by 1999.

The Mattoon to Peoria segment would remain with the Illinois Central, until the Illinois Central itself was merged into the Canadian National Railway in 1999. In 2004, Canadian National sold its interest in the Peoria and Pekin Union. However, the rest of the old PD&E line is still operated by them. Occasionally still being referred to by crews as "the old PD&E".
In 2000, Indiana Southwestern Railway company assumed control of the segment from Poseyville, IN, to Evansville. On December 27, 2011, they abandoned all but 3.8 miles in Evansville, IN.

In 2005, Ed Bailey planned to build an ethanol plant in Grayville, IL, and rebuild the route as the Browns, Grayville, and Poseyville RR including rebuilding the Wabash river span. The railroad would give his ethanol plant access to the Norfolk Southern in Browns, IL, and the CSX in Evansville, IN. But he evidently under estimated the cost of fixing the bridge because this plan never came to fruition.

Update: two other interesting references are: IC oriented, Evansville oriented.

Roger Kujawa posted
PD&E - IC - CN
Notice steel rail note verses iron rail or wood rail with iron straps on top.

And the PD&E must have bought the Decatur, Sullivan & Mattoon.
Kent Frantz posted
It’s the former IC and now CN but I’ve not heard it called Decatur, Sullivan & Mattoon railroad before ?
Located in Bethany .IL. circa 1875
Don Wagoner I knew the whole thing as Peoria district. Don't know if it was built in pieces like many were.
Kevin A Erb
Bob Bundren may have been during a short lived reincorporation that occured at the same time the map was made.

Jim Pearson caught a couple of locomotives in the Harwood Yard and provided an extensive comment.

Its bridge across the Wabash River has not only lost some spans, there is now a sandbar under the swing span.


  1. Why did the PD&E and IC have a swing span over the Wabash River? As early as 1835 flatboats were navigating the Wabash to bring commerce down to the Ohio River to New Orleans. Indiana & Illinois commissioned a company to have exclusive navigation rights on the Wabash and they built a wooden crib dam at Grand Rapids (Mt Carmel) in 1849 with a rudimentary wooden lock. President Jackson had vetoed a proposal to build a formal lock and dam as he considered the cost "extravagant". When the dam was built this allowed steamers to reach as far as Terre Haute. When the railroads came in the 1850's they were required to either provide clearance or build swing spans over the Wabash from Terre Haute south to the Ohio River. The Army Corp of Engineers finally built a proper concrete lock at Grand Rapids by 1897. The Wabash navigation law was on the books until 1962 even though the last known steamer to come up river was in 1926. The lock was formally abandoned in 1931. In 1946, the Tennessee Valley Authority was given all rights to the Wabash River and they declined. So it is thought that none of a rail swingspans have opened since the lock was closed. Since 1961 many (but not all) of the rail bridges have removed the swing spans and put permanent fixtures in place, The Illinois Central removed the swing system and locked it in place on this bridge in 1931 and the bridge tender was relocated.

  2. I lived in Mt Carmel. I have been to Grayville many times. When the water was low, we would walk across the river where the old dam was blown up. I remember the swing bridge when it was still extant.