Southeastern Illinois Railroads

New Shawneetown Depot 2017

Photo by David Cantrell

The proximity of the Ohio River to the railroads in the southeastern Illinois provided many benefits to the area.  The trains carried passengers, freight, mail, and connected residents with professional services like doctors that may not have been available in every town.  The railroads also brought a mechanism of communication between stations. Freight and passenger service was provided by the B&O and L&N railway companies to Shawneetown with freight service lasting the longest on both.   Both railroads had depots there with connections to the Norfolk and Washington, DC Steamboat Company Steamers on the Ohio River that were part of the Evansville, Paducah, and Cairo Line owned and operated by the Tennessee and Ohio River Transportation Company.

B&O Logo

Baltimore and Ohio

The Baltimore & Ohio railroad linked the Illinois River at Beardstown with the Ohio at Shawneetown.

B&O Railroad
History »
L&N Logo

Louisville and Nashville

The Louisville & Nashville railroad joined the Mississippi at East St. Louis with the Ohio River at Shawneetown and Wabash River at Maunie.

L&N Railroad
History »
Big 4 Logo

Big 4 (New York Central)

The Big 4 Railroad ran from Cairo to Vincennes across southern Illinois connecting with the Ohio, Mississippi, and Wabash Rivers.

Big 4 Railroad
History »
SIRP&Co Logo

Southern Illinois Railway
& Power Co.

An electric railway ran from Eldorado to Carrier Mills for twenty years.

SIR&P Company
History »
CB&Q Logo

Chicago, Burlington
& Quincy Railroad

According to the Williamson County Historical Society, the Northern and Southern Railroad connected Herrin to Centralia in 1906. The CB & Q purchased the line in 1908.

CB & Q Photos»
C&EI Logo

Chicago & Eastern
Illinois Railroad

The C & EI's earliest line ran from Evansville to Terre Haute, Indiana. Terre Haute soon linked with Chicago, Chicago with Danville, and Danville to St. Louis. In the early 1890's, the C & EI constructed track to reach the coal fields of southern Illinois.

C&EI Photos »
Illinois Central Logo

Illinois Central

Charted in 1851, the Illinois Central Railroad linked Chicago to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo.

Junction L&N Depot 1937 Flood

H O Turner Photo Collection

1937 Flood in Southeastern Illinois

The Flood of 1937 was a devastating disaster that impacted southeastern Illinois. A brief history has been compiled including railroad photos from around the area.

Southern Railway Logo

Southern Railway

The Southern Railway connected East St. Louis to Mount Carmel.

Wilson Mayberry Railroad Truck

In Memory of Wilson Mayberry

The B&O railroad did not run through Mayberry Township however, my grandfather, Wilson Mayberry on the right in the photo above, worked on the route between Flora and Shawneetown from 1941 to 1977 when he retired as a foreman.  Having traveled from Flora to Shawneetown and seen first hand the geographical challenges of keeping the trains running down these rails, a much deeper appreciation for his efforts has been gained.

Section Man Poem

Section Man

Flora Mayberry's Papers


These webpages on southeastern Illinois railroads would not be possible without the kindness of the following individuals and organizations:

Aunt Dorothy (Mayberry) McMahon, my grandpa's sister, spent many hours sharing stories of our family, Mayberry Township, and the local area including the railroads. The Baltimore and Ohio Historical Society and Duane Carrell provided several of the Flora to Shawneetown depot photos and approved use of content from their Sentinel Magazine. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum and Allison provided several of the Shawneetown to Flora depot photos. Classic Trains magazine provided Philip Hasting photos of B & O locomotives at Junction, Illinois Edward Oliver provided photos of Norris City, Broughton, and McLeansboro depots.  A photo of the store at Feakeyville and information on the War Emergency Pipeline were shared. Doris Nelson provided several photos of the McLeansboro depots. Bob Dagg shared recollections of his time working with my grandfather on the B & O Railroad. Jean-Denis Bachand and Diesel Shop provided illustration of Santa Fe 2319 James Gholson of Broughton shared his Broughton railroad information from the Gholson brother's web site. The Wayne County Historical Society and Judith Puckett helped identify Fairfield Depot photos, shared depot and train photos, and information on communities of Hubbard and Barn Hill. The Gallatin County Historical Society and Christy Short provided old photos of the L & N Depot at Shawneetown, 1872 Directory of Shawneetown pages for the Springfield & Illinois Southeastern Railways and St. Louis and Illinois Southeastern Railways, and other helpful information. Ghosts of Old Shawneetown provided the map layout of the town of Old Shawneetown and several photos including: 2 of the Equality depot during 1937 flood, 1969 L & N New Shawneetown Depot, and the USS Barrett at Shawneetown during the 1937 flood. Jim Pearson and The West Kentucky Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society provided the McLeansboro 1965 depot photo from the Bill Grady Collection. Jarrod Kohn of Kohn Funeral Home in Flora, IL provided the Flora depot and locomotive photo. UW La Crosse Special Collections authorized display of the SS Patricia Barrett picture from their Historic Steamboat Photographs collection. The Norris City Library staff provided assistance with researching their collections: Tullyne, Denise, Jodi, and Judy. The Flora Depot Museum provided an excellent tour of their depot and historical collection. In Omaha, Andy Pritchett and Omaha Furniture Company employees spent a few minutes sharing possible resources of information about the Omaha railroad past. The Shawneetown Library staff assisted with the Shawneetown flood, maps, and photos. The Gallatin County Courthouse assisted in locating local resources and provided directions to them. Jon Musgrave at approved using the Bob Anderson and the Flood of 1937 article. The Decatur Herald-Review, Chris, and Ashley provided a photo of the Junction B & O depot during the 1937 flood. CSX Retirees Website provided assistance with locating railroad book authors. Keith Jordan from approved using information from the Alco High Hood content. The Harrisburg District Library provided access to their historical information on railroads. The Eldorado Memorial Library provided access to their maps and railroad information.