Illinois Traction Society

2018 Color Calendar Now Available!

32nd  Annual Meet to be held in Litchfield, IL on April 28, 2018

Dale Jenkins' Illinois Railroads: Then and Now - 2012

Norfolk Southern Debuts Illinois Terminal Heritage Unit

Mike Schafer's The Diesel Era of The Illinois Terminal Railroad

Illinois Terminal 277 Runs Again!

Dale Jenkins' The Illinois Terminal Railroad: The Road of Personalized Services

"UNIQUE-being without a like or equal; very rare or uncommon; very unusual."

So Merriam Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines a much overused, much misused word.

The Illinois Terminal was a unique railroad.  It served Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri from 1895 to 1981, successfully making the transition from a collection of street railroads to one of the Midwest's premier interurbans, the Illinois Traction System.  Later, as it continued to grow and absorb several St. Louis area switching railroads, it evolved into the well-run Class 1 railroad, Illinois Terminal.  Over its lifetime, it survived two World Wars and the Great Depression to evolve from an electrically operated interurban closely associated with the electric utility industry to an electric, steam, battery and diesel powered railroad and finally to a completely dieselized freight-only railroad.  Yet, even during much of its six-axle locomotive era, the IT snaked through its territories on aging, 90 pound interurban rails.  On its own, it outlasted such great railroads as the New York Central, Pennsylvania, Northern Pacific, Wabash and a score of others.

Regardless of the era studied, the Illinois Terminal did it like no other line; and generally did it with style and panache.  Parlor cars sported mahogany and Spanish leather.  Its electric freight motors, whether in Brewster green or "traction orange", were distinctly IT.  And, even the "typical" was atypical on the Illinois Terminal.  GP7's wore an eye catching green and yellow paint scheme when black and white was the norm, if not the rule.  SW1200's spent nearly as much time in through-freight service as in the yards switching.  Its six-axle diesel locomotives were SD39's - not SD40's!

    The Illinois Terminal attracts railfans and historians from all parts of the country and from all railfan and historical special-interest subgroups.  The IT evokes emotions and memories in everyone who remembers it, perhaps like no other line, large or small.  For the modeler, it offers everything from frequent passenger service as one to five car trains, occasionally more, mixed in with short to moderate local and through freight trains and later 100+ car freight trains.

On May 8, 1982, the Illinois Terminal passed out of existence.  However, it left a history that would fascinate and, in some cases, amuse any railfan or historian!

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