Monday, February 29, 2016

KB&S: Kankakee, Beaverville & Southern Railroad (KBS) Overview


I do not like driving I-65 north of Lafayette, IN. I generally take I-57 down to US-52, and then take US-52 to Lafayette. It wasn't until I saw this line of their covered hoppers being stored along US-52 in Indiana that I realized a railroad paralleled it. I guess I generally do a good job of keeping my eyes on the road because I was not aware there was a paralleling railroad until I saw those cars.

20150508 0988
Looking at a railroad atlas when I got back home, it was part of the Big Four route between Kankakee, IL and Indianapolis, IN. (In Kankakee, the Big Four joined the Illinois Central route for access into Chicago. It also had a route from Kankakee to Seneca.) The segment between Lafayette and Kankakee is now part of KB&S.

I stopped in the driveway of their headquarters to take some pictures. Its traffic is mostly agricultural products --- grain out of towns and fertilizer into towns. It handles over 6,000 carloads a year. (IlliniRail)
Large Map from System Map
As you can see from the windshield, it was a rainy day so I didn't get out of the car. And I wanted to minimize the distance that I got onto their property.

The railroad in the background is also theirs. It was the Milwaukee Road/Chicago, Terre Haute & Southeastern Railway (CTHSE). As you can see from their map, it now runs only between Danville and Hooper, IL. But a Google search can't find Hooper. Their road map shows it going north of County Road 3200N. But the satellite view does not show any tracks crossing that road. Following a satellite image from Iroquois junction north, it goes far enough to serve Loy Farms and Donovan Farmers Co-Op if you use the road view.
This segment is also used for car storage, which can be a major source of income for short lines during recessions. I included just a small part of the "white car" cut in the excerpted satellite image. I think they may be (fracking) sand cars. The brown ones look like gondolas. There was a cut of covered hopper cars up by the grain elevators without an engine. (Update: I found this comment in a Rock Island group postingScott Thomas Storage fees can vary from 50 cents a wheelset per day, and up. So a buck a day per car.)

The segment between Templeton and Cheneyville was NS/NW/NKP/Lake Erie and Western. It looks like LE&W and Big Four shared the track between Templeton and Lafayette. The two little segments Sheff-Free and Handy-Stewart are remnants of the Egyptian Line.

Gabe Argenta posted
EJ&E cab turned KB&S

This railroad has been on my "to write" list for several months. The following posting provided the needed motivation.
Mark Hinsdale posted three pictures of the KB&S. His comment:
The Kankakee, Beaverville & Southern Railroad was created in 1977 to operate 30 odd miles of ex Penn Central trackage between Sheldon and Kankakee IL not wanted by Conrail. From those humble beginnings, the company steadily grew to over 155 miles of ex Penn Central, Norfolk & Western and Milwaukee Road routes in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. Today, KB&S is a friendly, modern, service oriented railroad that is quite interesting to watch and follow. I took advantage of yesterday's sunshine to do just that. 
Roger Durfee posted
WCW...Old Kankakee Beaverville and Southern cabin car near Iroquois, Ill.

Scott Brons commented
Same location
It looks like the location for the caboose and snow plow is stored on an extra siding by the grain elevator in Iroquois.
Derrick Higgins posted
From Last Friday March 11th NS Eastbound Local D93-11 on the KBS SIDE OF THE Wabash River in West Lafayette, Indiana Heading back to Lafayette South Yard on the Frankfort District at the Wabash Heritage Trail near Wabash Landing on Tapawingo Drive in West Lafayette.
Facebook pictures of nine cars in storage that blew over in the mid-1980s.

Mike Wyatt posted
Kankakee Beaverville & Southern 301. Kankakee, Illinois. Summer 1993. Ex NKP 569 built 3/58.

Dave Honan, this photo has been moved to "Iroquois Crossing: KB&S/Milw/CTH&SE vs. KB&S/Big Four."

Mike Kasrich posted, this photo has been moved to "Iroquois Crossing: KB&S/Milw/CTH&SE vs. KB&S/Big Four."

Grant DeNormandie posted
The Kankakee & Beaverville Southern Railroad was founded and operated by my friend Fey Orr (deceased) of Momence, Illinois. Fey also owned and operated the Orr Lumberyard and Grain Elevator at Momence. KB&S operates over 150 miles of track. One of their lines terminates in Lafayette, Indiana - Community The other line in Danville, Illinois.
Dennis DeBruler, click the map to get a bigger image.
Jesse Berryhill Flickr 2011 Photo showing one of the two wedge plows that KB&S has. The bridge for the Milw part that is over the Big Four part is in the background. The snow on the plow is from the 2011 blizzard. Another view of the wedge plow.   The standard snow plow on a GP38-2M can throw snow quite a ways.   Four engines between the engine with a plow and the tender with a plow.


  1. I live about 10 miles for Iroquois. Great to see these pics and the history.

  2. The satellite image is the grain elevator in Iroquois, Illinois. I’m just now beginning to model this area in a small layout I am building.