Monday, February 29, 2016

NYC's+Big4's Egyptian Line Overview

Everybody agrees that the route from Cairo to Danville was called the Egyptian Line.

Map from MadisonRails

Many consider the north/south route of the Kankakee Belt to also be part of the Egyptian Line.

In fact, in 1933 the timetable showed it running all the way from northern Indiana to Cairo.

Map from MadisonRails

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The Egyption Line was a nickname for the Danville and Indiana Harbor Railroad (D&IHR) part of the Kankakee Belt Route and the Big Four route between Danville, IL and Cairo, IL. Of course, after NYC gained control of the Big Four, this entire route became a NYC route. As with many other railroads between the Chicago area and southern Illinois and Indiana, this north/south line was motivated by accessing coal mines. And because so many routes were built to the south to high-sulfur coal, a lot of it is now abandoned. Thus a picture of abandoned track is appropriate.

The Cairo & Vincennes (C&V) (Bart Hileman comment)  was built between 1870-74. Paris & Danville Railroad was chartered March 23, 1869. Operations over that line began in September, 1872. Danville and Southwestern Railroad extended the line to Robinson in August, 1875; and to the Ohio and Mississippi (O&M) Railway Junction in May, 1876. An 1876 map indicates the O&M was the route between Vincennes and St. Louis that eventually became a part of the B&O. That is the route that CSX severed in July, 2015. Using 10 miles of the O&M, it started passenger service from Danville to Vincennes in 1876. In April, 1880 it used the St. Francisville and Lawrenceville Railroad to shorten its connection with the C&V and run freight trains. It leased two miles from the Toledo, Wabash & Western Railroad (TW&W) to get from Tilton Junction to Danville. It bought the Paris and Danville in 1881. (Wikipedia and Annual Report, Volume 11, p. 99) By 1898 the whole route between Danville and Cairo was owned by the Big Four; the O&M was part of the B&O; and the TW&W was a mainlijne of the Wabash. The D&IHR is conspicuously missing because it was not built until 1905. (1898 Map)

The Southern Railroad bought the segment from Cairo to Mount Carmel  (AbandonedRails) because it had an east/west mainline through Mount Carmel. NYC retained access to Keensburg because of the Wabash Mine just east of it. Norfolk Southern abandoned everything except the shared route to Keensburg and the Wabash Mine. But by 2005 the track to the mine had also been abandoned. Now the only segment left is a small yard southwest of Mount Vernon and the branch that crosses the Wabash River to serve the Gibson Generating Plant.

The segment from St. Francisville and Vincennes was abandoned by Big Four. Probably because of the expense of maintaining a bridge across the Wabash. The segment between St. Francisville and Lawrenceville was abandoned by Penn Central. The segment from Lawrenceville to Oliver or Mirth (the SPV Map is ambiguous about the identity between those two towns) was acquired by Prairie Central Railroad (PACY). Conrail abandoned the segment between Mirth and Paris. CSX operates the segment between Paris and Danville. (Once again, we see that the original charters helped determine how Conrail got split between NS and CSX or abandoned.) Conrail abandoned the segment between Danville and Stewart. Conrail abandoned the track between Danville and Schneider, IN except for two segments bought by KB&S.

This is one of four from Bill's posting
Update: Bill Edrington's posting has more information than I can absorb right now because it has a lot of interesting comments including coal mines in the area. One tidbit of note is that it referred to the branch that left the Egyptian line at Mt. Carmel to go to Evansville as the EM&N Branch.
Bill Edrington posted
Cairo & Vincennes Railroad 4-4-0 #12, the "Anthony J. Thomas". Originally posted by Ginny Lee in "Vincennes Indiana Remember When". The C&V was built between its namesake towns between 1870 and 1874. One of its early presidents was retired Union Army General Ambrose Burnside, for whom both Burnside, IL and "sideburns" are named. After various receiverships and management changes, the C&V was merged with the Danville & Southwestern and became the Cairo, Vincennes & Chicago, which built a connecting line between Lawrenceville and St. Francisville, and was in turn absorbed by the recently-consolidated CCC&StL in 1890.
Art Wallis The C&V was meant to be the Illinois extension of the Indianapolis & Vincennes, also promoted by Burnside until the Pennsylvania interests took it over in 1868 (they were also meant to have the C&V to reach the chain of railroads south of Cairo that became the IC).Bill Edrington The C&V and the I&V finally came under the same umbrella on 2/1/1968, the day of the Penn Central merger. By then, having the shortest route from Indianapolis to Cairo really didn't matter any more.


  1. Does anyone have any information on the Schneider Indiana grain facility?

    1. I know about the grain terminal, my husband worked there for 17 yrs in '50s 60's 70's I lived in the town for 25+ yrs.