Peoria & Eastern Railway


May 30, 1911 Record crowds fill Indianapolis Union Depot and the Indianapolis Traction Terminal to see the first Indianapolis 500. The Peoria & Eastern will convey about 70,000 to the Speedway; traction lines about 5,000. Both the Monon and the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton have run special trains for the event.

May 30, 1963 The Peoria & Eastern runs the last of its “500” specials. The trains are profitable, but do not fit into the company’s long-range plans.



The Danville, Urbana, Bloomington and Pekin Railroad Company, incorporated August 28, 1866, built a road from Danville to Pekin and to the Eastern boundary of Illinois. This rail line merged with a line in Indiana to form the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western Railway Company. The railroad was opened to traffic October 1, 1869.

The I.B.&W., or the “I Better Walk” as it was affectionately known, made Urbana a stable and independent community. Prior to its construction freight shipments were made between Urbana and Champaign via a horse drawn street car system. Direct rail made delivery easier and more reliable. The new railroad had been a bargaining factor in obtaining Danville’s strong support for locating the University of Illinois in Champaign County. The I.B. &W eventually became the Peoria and Eastern Railway (P&E) Company

On February 22, 1890, the P&E “surrendered to The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railway Company (The Big Four) the operation and control of its railroad…”



The line went from Indianapolis to Peoria

It was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New York Central System. It was not until August, 1996, when a portion of the line was sold to Norfolk Southern Corporation, that the line was no longer a part of the “Big Four” System (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railway). Passenger service in the 1950’s was a daily mail train with typically a Railway Post Office, a baggage car and a coach. No food or beverages, nor luxury accommodations were available on this train. The few passengers were mainly local riders or those wishing to connect with other New York Central mainline trains.
For a much more complete history

Please see Roger P. Hensley’s Railroads of Madison County

On January 1, 1890, the Peoria and Eastern Railway Company, originally the Ohio, Indiana and Western Railway Company, was organized under the laws of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

The roads of these several companies with the Peoria and Pekin Union Railroad, 9.22 miles in length, and the Columbus and Springfield Railroad, 44.97 miles in length, all owned or leased by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway Company, giving a direct line of road from Columbus, Ohio, to Peoria, Illinois, of 490.10 miles to Peoria, Illinois.


1901 informtion on PEORIA & EASTERN RAILROAD. Of this line the Cleveland, Cincinnati. Chicago & St. Louis Railroad Company is the lessee. Its total length is 350 1/2 miles, 132 of which lie in Illinois -123 being owned by the Company. That portion within this State extends east from Pekin to the Indiana State line, in addition to which the Company has trackage facilities over the line of the Peoria & Pekin Union Railway (9 miles) to Peoria. The gauge is standard. The track is single, laid with sixty and sixty-seven-pound steel rails and ballasted almost wholly with gravel. The capital stock is $10,000,000. In 1895 it had a bonded debt of $13,603,000 and a floating, debt of $1,261,130, making a total capitalization of $24,864,130.

(HISTORY.) The original of this corporation was the Danville, Urbana, Bloomington & Pekin Railroad, which was consolidated in July 1869, with the Indianapolis Crawfordsville & Danville Railroad – the new corporation taking the name of the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western — and was opened to Pekin the same year. In 1874 it passed into the hands of a receiver, was sold under foreclosure in 1879, and reorganized as the Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railway Company. The next change occurred in 1881, when it was consolidated with an Ohio corporation (the Ohio, Indiana & Pacific Railroad), again undergoing a slight change of name in its reorganization as the Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railroad Company. In 1886 it again got into financial straits, was placed in charge of a receiver and sold to a reorganization committee, and, in January, 1887, took the name of the Ohio, Indiana & Western Railway Company. The final reorganization, under its present name, took place in February, 1890, when it was leased to the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, by which it is operated.

the Peoria and Pekin Union Railroad was formed in 1868, to solve the right of way problems in Peoria.

In 1901, the PEORIA & PEKIN UNION RAILWAY was a line connecting the cities of Peoria and Pekin, which are only 8 miles apart. It was chartered in 1880, and acquired, by purchase, the tracks of the Peoria, Pekin & Jacksonville and the Peoria & Springfield Railroads, between the two cities named in its title, giving it control of two lines, which are used by nearly all the railroads entering both cities from the east side of the Illinois River. The mileage, including both divisions, is 18.14 miles, second tracks and sidings increasing the total to nearly 60 miles. The track is of standard gauge about two-thirds being laid with steel rails. The total cost of construction was $4,350,987. Its total capitalization (1898) was $4,177,763, including $1,000,000 in stock, and a funded debt of $2,904,000. The capital stock is held in equal amounts (each 2,500 shares) by the Wabash, the Peoria, Decatur & Evansville, the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis and the Peoria & Eastern companies, with 1,000 shares by the Lake Erie &Western. Terminal charges and annual rentals are also paid by the Terre Haute & Peoria and the Iowa Central Railways. <br?
From Terminal and Switching Railroads – Brian Nicholson

Peoria & Pekin Union – The Peoria Gateway
Located in the busy Industrial heartland of Peoria Illinois the P&PU was jointly owned by the NW, ICG, CN&W and Conrail when I photographed it in 1983. The P&PU operated 13 switchers of EMD origin in 1986.

There are two “SPRINGFIELD”s involved in P&E history. Springfield, Illinois is well documented regarding the Peoria & Pekin Union.Springfield, Ohio is not.

The entire route between Springfield and Peoria was included in one table labeled Peoria & Eastern division in the Big Four listing in the March 1900 “Official Guide,” but the P&E itself apparently never owned or operated east of Indianapolis.

According to the 1920 issue of Poor’s Manual, the line east of Indianapolis was deeded to the Big Four in 1890 when predecessor Ohio, Indiana & western was foreclosed, and the remainder conveyed in deed or by lease to the P&E Ry, which was, in turn organized in the interest of the Big Four and operated by them under contract.


Here’s what the Peoria & Eastern looked like in New York Central days

Miles from Indianapolis Station
0.0 Indianapolis  
1.8 KD
3.5 Brant  
14.0 Brownsburg (X) Big Four
27.7 Jamestown  
32.8 New Ross  
43.0 Ames (X) Louisville & Nashville
43.8 Crawfordsville  
54.0 Waynetown  
59.3 Hissborough  
64.7 Veedersburg (X) Norfolk & Western
72.1 Covington, Indiana  
83.9 Cory (X) Illinois Central KBSR
85.3 Danville (X) Louisville & Nashville (X)Norfolk & Western (J)Big Four
86.0 Wyton (J) Big Four Cairo Division
88.8 Hillery Yard-West Wyton  
93.2 Oakwood  
97.1 Muncie  
98.4 Fithian  
102.7 Ogden  
105.8 Glover (X) Missouri Pacific
107.3 St. Joseph  
110.7 Mayview  
115.8 Urpetydurpetybana (Meal stop-Sir George’s)
115.8 Urbana Yard Office (J) Norfolk & Western
116.3 Urbana Station-Broadway Avenue  
118.2 Champaign (X)Illinois Central, (J) Norfolk & Western, (J)Illinois Terminal RR
123.4 Anderson’s Elevator-Rising  
128.0 Mahomet  
133.7 Mansfield (X) Norfolk & Western
138.4 Harris – Haystacks Bridge  
141.4 Farmer City (X) Illinois Central
150.6 Leroy (J) Illinois Central
157.1 Downs  
164.4 Dean (X) Illinois Central (X) Illinois Terminal RR
166.8 Bloomington (X) Gulf Mobile & Ohio, (X) Norfolk & Western
167.3 Costin (J) Diamond Star Spur
176.5 Danvers  
182.4 Lilly  
186.3 Mackinaw (X) Pennsylvania (J) Illinois Terminal RR
193.4 Tremont  
201.4 East Yard (X) Gulf Mobile & Ohio
202.5 Pekin (X) Sante Fe (X) Chicago and Illinois Midland (J) Peoria & Pekin Union


More P&E History

Due to a lack of eighty per cent ( 80%) stock ownership The “P&E” was maintained as a separate entity with it own separate management, operating along with P&E seniority structure.

With the formation of Consolidated Rail Corporation, the twenty-two per cent ( 22%) outstanding shares were purchased. The “P&E” corporate structure was then dissolved and the property became part of the Southwest Division.

In the 1990’s The “P&E” was massacred and then dissected with the Ames to Clermont portion being integrated into The Crawfordsville Secondary of “CONRAIL” and later CSX Transportation.

The portion of The “P&E” west of Indianapolis was referred to as the West End while the other half which ran from DX Tower, east side of Indianapolis, Indiana where The “B Line” continued in a northeasterly direction towards Anderson, Indiana and Berea (west side of Cleveland), Ohio.

The east side of Indianapolis, Indiana was where all of the “P&E” local industrial shippers were located. Due to a lack of eighty per cent ( 80%) stock ownership The “P&E” was maintained as a separate entity with it own separate management, operating along with P&E seniority structure.

With the formation of Consolidated Rail Corporation, the twenty-two per cent ( 22%) outstanding shares were purchased. The “P&E” corporate structure was then dissolved and the property became part of the Southwest Division.

In the 1990’s The “P&E” was massacred and then dissected with the Ames to Clermont portion being integrated into The Crawfordsville Secondary of “CONRAIL” and later CSX Transportation.

The portion of The “P&E” west of Indianapolis was referred to as the West End while the other half which ran from DX Tower, east side of Indianapolis, Indiana where The “B Line” continued in a northeasterly direction towards Anderson, Indiana and Berea (west side of Cleveland), Ohio.

The east side of Indianapolis, Indiana was where all of the “P&E” local industrial shippers were located.


Big 4 Bridge: Jeffersonville to Louisville

The Big Four Bridge fell into disuse after the Big Four Railroad’s parent company, the New York Central Railroad, was merged into the Penn Central in 1968. The Big Four Bridge’s former traffic was then routed over Louisville’s Fourteenth Street Bridge. By 1969 both approach spans had been removed and sold for scrap. As a result, the Big Four Bridge became the first Louisville bridge to fall out of use, and gained the nickname “Bridge That Goes Nowhere”.



Indianapolis Union Station and Track Chart


The Indianapolis Speedway was at Mile Post 4.8 on the Peoria & Eastern

The population of Speedway, IN is 7,491. Headquarters of assistant Agent-Operator, Indiana Route #8, Speedway to New Rose, inclusive.

When the annual 500 mile race is run on Decoration Day, Special Trains are moved from Indianapolis Union Station to Speedway, where passengers are unloaded and equipment returned to the Union Station for turning and servicing; after the race, this equipment is returned to Speedway for loading. The Peoria & Eastern also operated Express Train service between the Union Station and Speedway on Race Day, discharging and loading passengers close to the track entrance.

Speedway Express Train Service – 1963

Tickets Sold – 22,338
Net Profit – $6,496.35

Several industries are served at Speedway by Indianapolis Terminal yard crew, the largest being Linde Air Products (joint B&O).

Report taken from 1964 report on Operating & Miscellaneous Data – Peoria & Eastern Railway.

Compare to Monaco F-1 Grand Prix held end of May. SNCF (French National Railways) runs through Monaco over a high speed electrified line from French Riviera to Italy. Most trains are eight car Alstom-manufactured trainsets. Four of these are owned by the Principality of Monaco and painted royal colors of red and white with royal crest. Limited roads into Monaco and very limited parking. Frequent busses run in two and three sections. The course of the race has been modified over the years, but the current route from the beach to the casino used to be a tramway route.


Ever wonder why Budd RDC’s or “doodlebugs” were not used on the P&E? Probably because a “doodlebug” might not have had sufficient capacity for the express business, and certainly not the capacity to add extra express cars as needed. I assume that this business was the mainstay of the train at this time and perhaps its demise is what led to discontinuance of service.


Peoria & Eastern EMD Diesels

14 EMD GP7 road switchers were built and delivered in November and December 1950. Their road numbers were 5612 through 5625.

7 EMD SW7 yard switchers were also built and delivered at this time and were numbered 8904 through 8910.


Chicago & Illinois Midland Railroad

The Commonwealth Edison-owned Chicago & Illinois Midland reached the Peoria area in 1926 through the acquisition of the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis Railroad’s Springfield – Pekin line. By the end of the decade, significant general merchandise traffic was moving on the C&IM between Peoria and Springfield. Much of this was “bridge” traffic, i. e., handled between connections by the C&IM and did not originate or terminate on-line. On-line traffic developed as well, such as Pillsbury Mills (flour and cake mixes), which opened a plant in Springfield adjacent to the railroad’s Shops Yard in 1929. The C&IM also had access to two major industries in Pekin; Corn Products Refining and Standard Brands. Trackage rights (and 25% ownership of) on the Peoria & Pekin Union allowed C&IM manifest trains to use the big P&PU East Peoria Yard.

The road ran a priority livestock train operating out of Springfield to Peoria, where a connection was made with the Peoria & Eastern.

The C&IM was also a major coal-hauling line and so freights were typically a mix of merchandise and coal or merchandise and empty hoppers.

In 1955, the C&IM completely dieselized and so freights were then powered by five new EMD SD9’s (sometimes joined by an SW1200). At this time, two daily freights in each direction were still traversing the line but locals were operating an alternate-day pattern – Monday, Wednesday and Friday northbound and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday southbound. Springfield-based crews handled these movements as “turns” to Havana (all-coal), Pekin (coal and merchandise) and Peoria (all-merchandise). The C&IM provided Peoria connections with an important link to the Baltimore & Ohio at Springfield.

The C&IM’s coal traffic (originating at both off-line and one on- line mine) eventually became predominant and “bridge” business was de-emphasized during the 1960’s. Further decline in merchandise traffic came after a 1964 court case that determined a conflict of interest existed in which a certain utility owned stock in numerous non-utility businesses. Commonwealth Edison feared forced divestiture of its railroad and so it took steps to reduce dependence on it. Regular merchandise trains (Springfield to Peoria turns) ceased running in 1968. Remaining merchandise traffic on the C&IM came second to coal, which took a hit as well. Many expected the C&IM to be abandoned but the conversion to low sulphur Montana and Wyoming coal by Commonwealth Edison power plants returned the northern portion of the railroad to prosperity during the 1970’s.

The C&IM’s operations were based on their handling of coal traffic which remained steady during the deregulated 1980’s. By decade’s end, however, Commonwealth Edison had sold its railroad and reduced its use of the Havana transfer facilities. The C&IM’s new owners began to diversify their traffic and in the early 1990’s, regular Springfield to – Pekin turns were operated to handle some non-coal business. Eventually, these fell victim to more hard times. The railroad was sold again (for the fourth time since December 1987) to Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. With this sale came the end to the historic C&IM name.

From February 1996, the Illinois & Midland (IMRR) operated the old C&IM. Ironically, five ex-Illinois Central SD20’s arrived the property fully lettered for the former C&IM and painted in the road’s 1950’s green-with red lighting stripe scheme.

Regular merchandise trains would return as well. In October 1997, as part of a plan to end a major service meltdown, Union Pacific discontinued operation of manifest trains south of Peoria. Traffic formerly handled by these trains was now in the hands of the IMRR between East Peoria and Springfield. The IMRR acted as a haulage agent for the UP. In addition, regular shipments of wheat coming off the BNSF at East Peoria were handled to the former Pillsbury plant, since 1991 owned by Cargill.

Today, the IMRR still runs Pekin turns out of Springfield on as- needed basis, mainly to handle the movement of cinders/fly ash from Powerton to Ellis along with some other traffic. Coal still makes up the majority of the road’s business.
avid Jordan posted this information regarding the C&IM on the PeoriaRails Yahoo Group


Peoria & Eastern Operations in East Peoria, IL

East Peoria is the headquarters of the Peoria & Pekin Union Railway. At this point is located their main yard, engine house, repair track, etc. It is the final terminal for Peoria & Eastern freight crews that are assigned in turn-around service between Urbana and East Peoria. All cars are received and delivered in interchange with the following roads:

C&NW (Northwestern)
CB&Q (Burlinton)
P&PU (Peoria & Pekin Union)
GM&O (Gulf Mobil & Ohio)
TP&W (Toledo Peoria & Western)
C&IM (Chicago & Illinois Midland)
NKP (Nickel Plate)
PRR (Pennsylvania)
IT (Illinois Terminal)
CRI&P (Rock Island)
IC (Illinois Central)

At East Peoria is located P&PU general office building that houses the President and all other officers of the several departments, including freight station served by joint agent of the six tenant lines.

The number and percentage of Peoria & Pekin Union Railway shares held by the various participating lines, follows:
Illinois Central – 3853 Shares / 38.53%
Peoria & Eastern – 1730 Shares / 17.30%
Nickel Plate – 1500 Shares / 15.00%
Chicago & Northwestern – 1250 Shares / 12.5%
Pennsylvania – 834 Shares / 8.34%
Chicago & Illinois Midland – 833 Shares / 8.33%




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