Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oil Belt Railway

Ken Pryor Jr. posted two photos with the comment:
The Oil Belt Traction Company, later known as the Oil Belt Railway, based in my home county (Crawford) in Oblong, IL. Incorporated in 1909, this little railroad eventually had 25 mile of track, from Oblong to Bridgeport, IL. They were a poorly run operation that tried to cut corners far too much, resulting in poor performance and derailments. The train became known as the "try-weekly" because it would arrive in Bridgeport and then try all week to get back to Oblong. The OB interchanged with the Illinois Central in Oblong and the B&O Southwestern in Bridgeport. They officially shut down in 1916. Thanks to my friend Terry Ridgley for all the info he's given me on this line.
Not my photos. Dates and photographers unknown.
Richard Mead Lawrence Lore 
Kam Miller That 4-4-0 had to be bought used, too. Not exactly state-of-the-art in 1906.
Ken Pryor Jr. My friend documented in his paper that the locomotive was purchased used from the Illinois Central.



I figured it had to be abandoned a long time ago because I could find no trace of it on a satellite image. A quick look at an old aerial photo was unproductive also.

I know there is oil around Effingham. I wonder if there used to be oil in this area also because I noticed the town Oil Center is close by.

Update: I'm making spuwho's link hot so that it is easier to access:


  1. We are doing this location assignment for social studies and we need to know who created The Oil Belt Traction Company


    Has more details.

    As does the Lawrence Lore website. There is a small paperback that covers the history of the Oil Belt.
    There was a large quantity of oil in several southeastern Illinois counties with towns in the area (Noble, Olney, Robinson, Lawrenceville, Bridgeport, Sumner) 2 oil refineries were built to support the oil industry. One in Robinson and one in Lawrenceville. The one in Lawrenceville (Indian Refinery) invented a new oil refining process that was called "Havoline". Later Texas-American Oil Corporation bought Indian Refining and took on the Havoline refining process. They later became known as "Texaco". Today their oil is still called Havoline. The refinery in Lawrenceville is gone, but the one in Robinson is still there and owned by Marathon. Most of the accessible oil in the region is beginning to slow down as they have been pumping it since the 1920's. There is still alot of oil here, but since Illinois made fracking uneconomical, no one will try to extract it.