Railroad Timeline in Effingham County
Gleaned from Effingham Newspapers
By Kate Keller Bourland
1852 Work on the railroad in the county began in 1852 with John F. Bernard holding the contract to build the stretch from Mattoon to Centraila which was completed in 1854. Bernard made temporary headquarters at Ewington. Between 300-600 men were employed on the project
1869 The Vandalia railroad (Pennsylvania) was built through Effingham, and the "Van" shops established to keep rolling stock in shape.
1870 The St. Louis, Vandalia and Terre Haute Railroad Company started construction in February 1868 and was completed, 159 miles on April 26, 1870.
1876 In July, the Chicago and Paducha railroad was being built from Shumway to Effingham
1876 The first shipment over the new C. & P. railroad was stone for the new hospital building.
1878 In November of this year a telephone was put in connecting the Vandalia depot with Leors telegraph office, the freight and baggage rooms.
1880 C. E. Q. Railroad, in 1880 the narrow gauge Cincinnati, Effingham & Quincy opened operations to the Wabash river. With an Indiana extension to Switz City and a new name, this colorful line with its eccentric little locomotives, called "Mother Holmes" and "Rackaramus" became almost legendary for its engine failures, derailments and general mishaps. Passengers often were called upon to get out and help left the cars back on the tracks after derailments and general mishaps. The Illinois Central came into the ownership of the property and in December 1906, the present 177-mile standard gauge line between Effingham and Indianapolis, Ind., was completed.
1885 Cold weather marked the opening of the year and in February, the cold was so severe that trains from Chicago did not run for three days.
1898 The year ended with Effingham residents making nightly pilgrimages to the depot to see the new electric headlights on one of the Vandalia trains.
1891 A charter was granted for an electric railroad from Effingham to Teutopolis. The corporation had $100,00 in stock, and incorporators were W. S. Holmes, J. A. Arnold, B. Overbeck and G. F. Taylor.
1897 The city and the Illinois Central railroad battled over ownership and possession of Railroad street on the west side and in September, the city was given the right to use Railroad street perpetually.
1902 Effingham was recognized in April when a Mr. Wheeler of Beloit, Wis., leased the Vandalia shops to be remodeled and used as quarters to build and supply railway water tank equipment. Work on building started in July.
1902 - Effingham was given mail facilities on the Effingham accommodation between here and Indianapolis, Ind.
1902 As the year drew to an end, the new Illinois Central coal chute was about finished.
1903 In October, the Illinois Central announced it would buy leased lines from Effingham to the Indiana State line.
1904 In June it was announced that the Illinois Central railroad would run a trunk line from Effingham to Indianapolis.
1908 The Vandalia railroad shops reopened on the first of July with 17 men employed in the Effingham shops.
1908 Illinois Central freight train wreck which occurred about 1908 near the Illinois Central coal chute.
1909 In April, the Vandalia shops closed.
1909 In October, the Wabash railroad began running trains from Effingham to Shumway again.
1911 On January 10, it was announced that Effingham would have a new Union depot and that Illinois Central officials would be in the city in a few days to present plans. However, on June 23, when improvements actually got underway it was found that the old station would be repaired at a cost of $2,000.
1911 In May, the Indianapolis Southern railroad was sold to the Illinois Central for $2,500,00.
1912 Illinois Central automatic block systems went into operation in May.
1916 A crowd of 2,000 persons gathered in the cold at the depot on Feb. 4 for a glimpse of President Woodrow Wilson who went through on a train.
1916 In June, the Illinois Central railroad announced it would spend $70, 000 for improvements in Effingham including a new coaling station, engine house and tracks.
1916 Effingham has two great bulletin boards 40 feet each on the Vandalia and the other on the Illinois Central Railroad which read as follows
EFFINGHAM, ILLINOIS THE HEART
GULF OF MEXICO
The PANAMA CANAL THE WORLD TRADE
Best Place IN
THE UNITED STATES FOR FACTORIES WHOLESALE HOUSES AND BUSINESS OF ALL KINDS
APPLY TO THE EFFINGHAM IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION
1918 On June 3, the Illinois Central railroad bridge over Salt Creek burned, and a record was set when it was built back and ready for use in 66 hours.
1923 Best news reach the citizens of Effingham in 1923 was in January when C. H. Markham, president of the Illinois Central railroad, visited Effingham and assured residents that the new depot which they had long wanted would be a reality. In April, the railroad purchased the Pacific Hotel to use as a site for the depot.
1923 In September, when after a long legal battle, the Illinois Commerce Commission authorized the Edgewood cutoff of the Illinois Central which would be carried out through the organization of the Southern Illinois and Kentucky railroad.
1924 Building work announced was the letting of the contract for the Union Station on Feb. 29. The project was to cost about $150,000. The depot was dedicated on Oct. 6 with high railroad officials coming here for the event.
1924 In May, a Wabash passenger train turned over north of Effingham with only slight injuries to passengers.
1926 Illinois Central and Pennsylvania trains crashed on May 26 and knocked down the building housing the interlock system.
1929 On Dec. 19, when one of the worst storms in years heat Effingham. Over 11 inches of snow were recorded. Trains were stopped and all of the highways leading out of Effingham were closed.
1936 The Wabash Railroad asked permission in March to abandon its line from Effingham to Stewardson.
1936 On Feb. 13 it was announced that the Wabash Railroad would take off its Effingham Stewardson trains on Feb. 15 and an effort was made to get a Star Route to Sullivan. However, on the 15th, the Illinois Commerce Commission stopped the proposed abandonment.
1951 Illinois Central railroad centennial on April 14.Back