Around the IC in Central IL, 2000s

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Skyliner

New Member
Hi everyone, new member here, just came over from modelrailroadforums per the request for more members and content. I'll start by sharing some of my earlier digital photography. I went to school in Champaign and then lived there for a few years afterward, most of the time within view of the Illinois Central/CN mainline. I'd often venture down to the CN/NS diamond in Tolono, as well as a few other sites around the area.

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Here's a pair of SD70 deathstars, southbound along Highway 45 in 2005.

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Here's a pair of GP38-2s pulling a string of tank cars through a west Champaign neighborhood in 2005. I think they had just finished switching the Kraft Food plant.

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A view of the south end of Champaign Yard in 2005 reveals four different RR paint schemes.

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Waiting to depart southbound, IC 9602 was built in 1974 but sports a relatively clean paint scheme in 2005. GTW 5844 was built in 1977.

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One day in November 2005, I noticed a short train backing westbound through town. Racing ahead, I caught up with this caboose on the point near Bondville. If memory serves me, this little-used branch line was part of the old Illinois Terminal RR, a remnant of its former Illinois Traction interurban line to Decatur. At one time, there was extensive interurban service across central Illinois, stretching from Peoria, east to Danville, and south to St. Louis. The modern Illinois Terminal RR came from the remnants of this system around St. Louis.

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I'm not sure what the train was doing as it moved relatively slowly, but the crew on the caboose was watching the track closely. Shortly after passing me, the air dumped and the train came to a stop. The crew got off and looked at the track for a while as depicted here. I thought I faintly heard someone say something about a "broken rail." After a few minutes, they got back onboard, and the train pulled back eastbound, never making it farther than depicted here.

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Conrail blue still showed up at times on the NS mainline through Tolono. Red-wing blackbirds scatter before a westbound splitting the signals at the Martin siding.

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Here's an eastbound Roadrailer train crossing the diamond at Tolono in 2006, behind a single C40-8. It was chilly, as I recall.

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As I turned to watch it go by, what should appear but a westbound auto parts train with NS 5436, still in blue, in trailing position. The dispatcher planned this meet perfectly, both trains kept rolling through the diamond.
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Thus endeth the chase. I chased the westbound auto parts train as best as I could, racing through small towns trying to get ahead in a position for pictures not blocked by the ever-present line side wires or other obstructions. It was tough, as the train got up to track speed pretty quickly after clearing Tolono. I lost right here, as the locomotives barreled through this rural crossing west of Ivesdale just ahead of me. By the time the tail cleared, I knew I wouldn't be able to catch up anymore.

Hope you all enjoyed these, I'll contribute more as I'm able.
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Great photos, thanks for posting. My other photo-hobby is nature photography and I try to get birds in the train shots to add variety to the photos.

I lived in Naperville, IL from 1987-91. Part of my commute into the Loop was on the Stevenson freeway, which paralleled what I believe was the former GM&O mainline into Chicago. I recall seeing deathstar units on the line. Wasn't there another nickname for that logo, which resembled that of a telecommunications company, maybe AT&T?

Are Roadrailers still in service back there?
 
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Some photos of an IC loco at the Monticello Railroad Museum in April 2015. Not sure, but it looks to be a GP10 Paducah Rebuild. Please let me know if that's not correct.

I looked on the Monticello Railway Museum website and they list it as a GP11. http://www.mrym.org


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At the station in downtown Monticello, IL. After a short wait, the train will backup to the museum.
 
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Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Didn't all the IC Paducah rebuilds have those famous "frog eye" headlights? I'll try to find some photos on the internet and post them here.
 
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I was going by the filter intakes behind the cab. It's been awhile since I've seen any pictures of them. You may very well be right, please let me know.
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Here is photo of an IC "frog eye" unit on the Fallen Flags website. I believe the frog eye units were originally high-hooded first generation Geeps that were rebuilt at Paducah.

I was still single in the summer of 1973 and living in Sacramento. Both my parents are from Iowa. I went with them and my baby sister (all of whom were living in Santa Rosa at the time) back to Iowa to visit relatives.

I managed to borrow the car while they were visiting with relatives in Ft. Dodge. At that time, Ft. Dodge was served by the Illinois Central via former Omaha Road trackage and the Chicago & Northwestern via former Minneapolis & St. Louis trackage. I drove around town looking for tracks and among other things, photographed an IC freight pulled by three(?) frog-eyed Geeps along the Des Moines River. As I recall, the Geeps were very clean, so I suspect they were not too long removed from the rebuild shop at Paducah.

The photos are part of my slide collection, taken while I lived in Sacramento from 1973-84. I am sure many of the old photos would interest members. I need to "digitize" the slides in order to post them up here, so please send me a PM if you can recommend a good slide converter.
 
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Skyliner

New Member
Round two. The village of Tolono, IL is about ten miles south of Champaign. At the diamond there, CN's main line crosses the NS east-west line. The CN is Illinois Central's original "Main Line of Mid-America" from Chicago to New Orleans. Once double-tracked, it is now single-track through this area. The NS is former Norfolk & Western, and before that was the Wabash line connecting Toledo and Detroit in the east, to St. Louis and Kansas City in the west. The NS has two tracks across the diamond, however one is a passing siding.

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Slightly out of place, this UP C44-9W was left on a siding for a couple days in 2006. Not sure if it was set out for mechanical reasons or something else. The UP mostly ran through the area on the former C&EI tracks east of here, but about this time I remember seeing more yellow on the IC line on occasion.


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Track crews are working on the diamond while an eastbound autorack waits patiently. Taken in 2005.

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Amtrak passed through here several times each day, with both Illinois service trains and the City of New Orleans. Here's one of the former in 2006, either the northbound Illini or the Saluki just across the diamond, while a freight behind IC 1002 waits in the hole. The hoppers on the left are parked on the spur connecting the two main lines.

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Once clear, the freight gets underway. SD70 1002 is in the lead, with CN 2419, a C40-8M, trailing. I've always wondered if it's normal for the frame line on those to sag like that.

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CN 5429, an SD50F, bangs across the diamonds southbound in 2007. The filthiness of the locomotive seems to fit right in on this hot, muggy, hazy day.

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Here's the opposite. An eastbound behind NS 9236 approaches Tolono on a frigid, blowing winter day in 2007.

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Don't worry, it wasn't that close. And the stack train was just creeping along.

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In the SE corner of the diamond is a grain elevator, equipped with it's own Trackmobile for shuffling cars around.

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Want the whole train? Ok, here's (IIRC) a westbound behind Conrail blue, after clearing Tolono at dusk.

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All red looking at the diamond. Of course, no trains came before it got too dark.
 
Did, or do you ever get to Gibson City to take photos? Back in 2007 I spent four months working at Clinton Nuclear Power Station. I spent several days there and got a few photos at one of the grain elevators where they had a little Plymouth switcher that, IIRC, was painted white. I took quite a few photos all around the area when I had free time, but I lost all of those pictures due to a computer mishap, which was my own fault. I lost a lot of good IC/CN photos and even snagged some shots of a GP7 lettered for the Bloomer Line. I remember driving along and I about drove my truck into the ditch thinking I had come across a long lost CB&Q unit in Chinese Red. It wasn't, of course, but the resemblance was unbelievable! The only difference was Bloomer instead of Burlington!
 
Here is photo of an IC "frog eye" unit on the Fallen Flags website. I believe the frog eye units were originally high-hooded first generation Geeps that were rebuilt at Paducah.

I was still single in the summer of 1973 and living in Sacramento. Both my parents are from Iowa. I went with them and my baby sister (all of whom were living in Santa Rosa at the time) back to Iowa to visit relatives.

I managed to borrow the car while they were visiting with relatives in Ft. Dodge. At that time, Ft. Dodge was served by the Illinois Central via former Omaha Road trackage and the Chicago & Northwestern via former Minneapolis & St. Louis trackage. I drove around town looking for tracks and among other things, photographed an IC freight pulled by three(?) frog-eyed Geeps along the Des Moines River. As I recall, the Geeps were very clean, so I suspect they were not too long removed from the rebuild shop at Paducah.

The photos are part of my slide collection, taken while I lived in Sacramento from 1973-84. I am sure many of the old photos would interest members. I need to "digitize" the slides in order to post them up here, so please send me a PM if you can recommend a good slide converter.


I had completely forgotten about the frog eyes! Like I said, it's been a long time since I have seen any pictures of the Paducah units. Thanks for posting that!
 

Skyliner

New Member
Great photos, thanks for posting. My other photo-hobby is nature photography and I try to get birds in the train shots to add variety to the photos.

I lived in Naperville, IL from 1987-91. Part of my commute into the Loop was on the Stevenson freeway, which paralleled what I believe was the former GM&O mainline into Chicago. I recall seeing deathstar units on the line. Wasn't there another nickname for that logo, which resembled that of a telecommunications company, maybe AT&T?

Are Roadrailers still in service back there?

Thanks. I'll have to look, I know I've got a few pictures with birds in them somewhere.

I lived in Illinois from 1995-2007, downstate the whole time including college, but commuted to Chicago for work the last 4 years. There might have been another nickname, that sounds familiar but I don't recall for sure.

The NS line thru the area used to have a regular Roadrailer pass through, possibly daily, back then. I haven't been back for over 12 years now, so no idea these days.
 

Skyliner

New Member
Did, or do you ever get to Gibson City to take photos? Back in 2007 I spent four months working at Clinton Nuclear Power Station. I spent several days there and got a few photos at one of the grain elevators where they had a little Plymouth switcher that, IIRC, was painted white. I took quite a few photos all around the area when I had free time, but I lost all of those pictures due to a computer mishap, which was my own fault. I lost a lot of good IC/CN photos and even snagged some shots of a GP7 lettered for the Bloomer Line. I remember driving along and I about drove my truck into the ditch thinking I had come across a long lost CB&Q unit in Chinese Red. It wasn't, of course, but the resemblance was unbelievable! The only difference was Bloomer instead of Burlington!

Ah, Gibson City...the "big city" on 47 between Mahomet and I-55. Unfortunately, I never did much photography up that way; I left Illinois in 2007. However, I did pass close by-- about once a month I would have to drive to Chicago to work, and I had a back-country route that went basically straight north out of Champaign, through Elliott just east of Gibson City, then Chatsworth, and onto I-55 in Gardner. I would cross under the Bloomer Line via a tiny one-lane underpass just southwest of Melvin. I don't think I ever saw a train on that line in the roughly four years I passed by it.

I always wondered about some of the rail history of that area, in places were it's still visible, like the TP&W in Chatsworth, or where it's almost all gone like in the tiny village of Campus. You can just barely see where the right of way used to come through Campus, then continue southwest eventually to Gibson City. I never made it to Clinton on the ground, but passed by the blue dome many times in the air, usually enroute to Lincoln or Quincy. "Cover your *@LL$" was the joke when we went by, so they don't get irradiated.

I do have a few pictures of some train-related stuff between Champaign and Chicago from back then, I'll try and share some when I can.
 

Skyliner

New Member
As promised, here's a few in between Champaign and Chicago.

About 8 miles west of Rantoul is the tiny village of Dewey. There's not much besides a Post Office and...

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...a grain elevator complex. This spur off the CN main line is what I believe is the last remaining remnant of the Havana, Rantoul, and Eastern Railroad, chartered in 1879. This was originally built as a narrow-gauge line, and ran from West Lebanon, IN across Illinois to LeRoy, but never reached Havana. The route roughly parallels present-day US 136. The line was acquired by the IC in the 1880s and converted to standard gauge, before being mostly abandoned in 1980. The only remaining segment is about 8 miles from the CN main in Rantoul, to just west of Dewey. At the time I passed through there, I think the line was the Fisher Farmers Grain & Coal Railroad. The elevator has since been bought by Premier Cooperative, so I'm not sure who exactly owns the rails now. But, what do they use to switch the line?

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A rare GP28! Built in 1964, this locomotive started with IC as #9437, then served with the KYLE railroad before coming here.

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These pictures are from 2007. Unfortunately I didn't have much time to stop, and the loco was front-coupled the whole time I was there.

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Thirty miles almost straight north of Dewey, we enter the town of Chatsworth, IL. Here, the Toledo, Peoria, and Western's east-west line intersected with IC's Bloomington District (now part of the Bloomer Line). Parked in the middle of town is this restored bay-window caboose. One of the worst train accidents in the US occurred just east of here in 1887, when a burning trestle collapsed under the weight of a passenger train, causing several cars to pile up in the gully below.

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Speaking of cabeese, here's another town with one parked in the middle. If I remember correctly, this is in Homer, IL.

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Back to 2007, so after leaving Dewey, and about 75 minutes driving later, I encountered this train idling somewhere southwest of Chicago. I think it was somewhere near Joliet; I just remember driving along a local road, glancing over as I crossed the tracks and thinking, "Woah, there's a train there!"
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Great photos. Please keep them coming. I am probably not the only member who enjoys viewing railroad photos taken in other parts of North America.
 

Skyliner

New Member
Alright, one more chapter from this series. The next town south of Tolono, IL is the village of Pesotum. Here, US 45, I-57, and the IC/CN mainline all cross.

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Southbound Illinois service train approaching town with four heritage cars in July 2005. The train will not stop here.

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I don't think a train has stopped in Pesotum for many years, even though there is a restored depot along the tracks. IC schedules from the 1930s show it as a flag stop, but no longer listed the town by the late 1940s.

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Just south of Pesotum CN/IC 2718 leads a string of bulkhead flats south at dusk in 2005. The I-57 overpass is in the back, with a grain conveyor behind that.

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And there they go.

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If memory serves me, this overpowered work train is pulling a single side-dump car into Tuscola, IL in March 2006.

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Tuscola is about thirty miles south of Champaign, and is the site of three crossing lines: CN, UP, and CSX. The CN is the former IC, the UP is former MP and C&EI, and the CSX is former B&O. At one time, there was a 24-hour staffed tower here and five diamonds for all the tracks. The tower was torn down in the 1990s and the trackage has since been simplified. It's a warm day in July 2007 as double-stacks roll through town behind a pair of UP C40-8's. From here, the train will angle northeast up the former C&EI tracks to Chicago.

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I never did get many UP photos when I lived out that way, as their tracks were a little farther away. They had a crew change point in Villa Grove, complete with an old roundhouse, but of course nothing was happening the one time I made it down there. One day in 2007 I was driving around looking for spots along the UP main, and on a rural road this southbound came out of nowhere. I managed to pull over and snap one shot. Wish I'd gotten a better image of the frankenstein loco in trailing position.

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Ok, maybe there was something in Villa Grove. I think I took this picture there, of the FRA's winnebago on rails.

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Speaking of special trains, here's a CN engineering train parked in Champaign, March 2007.

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I was excited when I spotted this, ran home and got a tripod, thought "It's perfect the light from the side will illuminate the train!" But no matter how much I played with exposure and shutter settings, I couldn't do anything about the damn glare, this was as good as it got. Incidentally, the loco is GTW 4633, a rebuilt GP9R, originally built in 1956.

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Here's a specialized load going northbound behind a pair of GP38-2's.

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The CN took over IC operations in 1999, but you could still see a variety of liveries throughout the 2000s. I believe the blue C40-8W originally came from LMSX, where it got that color. Look carefully and you'll see a GP9 tucked back there too. Mmm smell the creosote.

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Northbound again, here's a tricolor of paint schemes, including a BNSF GP60B that has somehow made it into the consist. At the time I took this in 2007, I of course didn't know I would end up finding an HO version of that locomotive 12 years later at a show. ATSF superfleet colors, however.

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Illinois Terminal was built in 1999 and is a nice facility serving Amtrak, Greyhound, and local transit in Champaign. It was named in homage to the Illinois Terminal RR, which operated interurban services in the area back in the day.

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"One twenty-nine's comin' in first!" Crew members for two southbound trains confer as they wait to depart Champaign yard.

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Slightly out of place in CN's yard, a set of NS power rolls backwards through the area, with a crew member keeping a lookout.

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And finally, a southbound looms out of the fog on a snowy day in December 2007. Hope you all enjoyed this peek at central IL, I'll start another thread with some photos from another area next, just haven't decided where yet. -Eric
 
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Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the photos. With all of the mergers, bankruptcies, etc., the railroad face of America's Heartland has really changed over the years.
 




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