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2017 issue 2 North Western Lines
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Litchfield & Madison - A Capsule History
The L&M was a small railroad in Illinois with a line that ran out of Edwardsville, which is east of St. Louis. The L&M had about 68 miles of line, and the main line went from a connection with the C&NW at Benld to the L&M yard at Madison. Revenue came from coal mines in the area, from bridge (connecting) traffic from the C&NW, and from industry at Granite City, near Madison. The town of Litchfield is at the north terminus of the line on a branch just east of Benld. The town of Madison was the terminal at the other end, providing a gateway to St. Louis via connecting roads. The shops and offices were at Edwardsville, IL.
There is no record of passenger service, but since there was a depot (and office) at Staunton, passenger service may have been offered at one time. Besides the C&NW, the L&M also connected with the Illinois Central; the New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Big East St. Louis Junction; Illinois Terminal; Southern; Wabash; Alton & Southern; and the TRRA of St. Louis.
Motive power in the steam days was typical of a Midwest shortline, with the exception of two very large second-hand locomotives that were purchased from the Union Pacific. The diesel roster consisted of three Alco RS3 units and one Baldwin VO1000. Freight equipment in 1951 consisted of 317 hoppers, 242 gondolas, and several cabooses.
C&NW freights ran on trackage rights from Benld to Madison, and for years the track was in poor condition. The crews were L&M crews out of Edwardsville, and they were classified as yardmen, not as conductors or trainmen. There were seven regular crews in the 1950’s.
Finally, in 1958, the C&NW took over the L&M and continued to run into Madison. The effective date was January 2, 1958. The three diesels went to the C&NW, where they were eventually repainted and renumbered.
Timeline of L&M events:
Compiled by Joe Piersen
- 1889 – 1890 The Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis starts construction at Winston, just a mile from Litchfield.
- 1889 – 1890 The St. Louis & Eastern was building a line simultaneously from Litchfield to Glen Carbon. Both of the railroads were intending to build to Madison.
- 1890’s The Chicago Peoria & St. Louis reached an agreement, called the Ninety Nine Year Lease, whereby they leased the un-built right of way from the St. Louis & Eastern (which was dominated by the IC). Both lines eventually operated into Madison.
- 1900 Mr. James Duncan organized the Litchfield & Madison and purchased the CP&StL.
- 1904 The lease is cancelled, probably because of money problems. The legal maneuverings were complicated at this time and involved the IC.
- 1913 A new contract is signed.
- 1923 A contract is signed which clarifies ownership and operation of the line to Madison. The details are too complicated to be summarized.
- 1925 - 1926 Additional trackage is built and the C&NW obtains trackage rights. The L&M received (minor) reciprocal trackage rights over the C&NW. One possible advantage to the C&NW would be to use the line to transport iron ore from Upper Michigan to the steel mills in Granite City. In later years the L&M would handle 5900 cars of ore per year. Most of the traffic on the L&M had been loads of coal southbound to the Louis area and the return of empties northbound. Until this agreement, processed steel from Granite City could not move north on the L&M.
- 1930 The L&M obtains entrance to East St. Louis, IL through an agreement with the Alton & Eastern. East St. Louis was in Illinois, across the river from the St. Louis metro area.
- 1949 The L&M is at low ebb. The property is disintegrating. There are only two steam locomotives operating, where there were once more than six. Revenues are very weak.
- 1958 The C&NW takes over the L&M, effective January 2, 1958.
North Western Lines magazines, various articles and authors. Only the Winter 2002 issue is still in print.