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Southern Illinois & Kentucky Railroad

History

    By the 1920's, the traffic between Centralia Illinois and Fulton Kentucky had grown so great on the Illinois Central Railroad that an additional route was needed.  Out of this need came the Edgewood (Illinois)-Fulton Cutoff.  The Edgewood Cutoff, as it is now known, was built as straight and level as it could possible be made.  It avoided most towns, and therefore very few grade crossings are on the line.  And the 169 miles of the cutoff reduced the distance between Chicago and New Orleans by a whopping 22 miles.  The cutoff was principally constructed by two railroads; the Southern Illinois & Kentucky Railroad and the Chicago, St. Louis & New Orleans Railroad.  A small but important section had already been built by the Paducah & Illinois Railroad, which had bridged the Ohio River at Metropolis in 1917.

   The Illinois portion from Edgewood to the Metropolis River bridge (a connection with the P&I) was constructed by the SI&K.  Different sources cite different start dates.  Some sources say 1925, and others say 1923.  What is agreed upon is that it was opened on May 7th, 1928 with three tunnels and a stretch of almost 63 miles of arrow straight track.

   IC's CStL&NO was used to build the portion from Fulton Kentucky to Chiles (the southern connection with the P&I).  Again, different sources cite different dates for the building.  Some cite 1924 and others 1925 as the start date for construction.  In addition, there is conflict over when construction was completed on the Kentucky portion.  Some sources say that is was completed in 1927.  Others state that the line from Fulton to Maxon (a connection with the old Chesapeake, Ohio & Southwestern Railroad) was completed in 1927, and then the two miles to Chiles was completed in 1928.

   The short section between Chiles Kentucky to across the Ohio River to Metropolis Illinois had been built in 1916-1917 by the P&I.  The P&I was originally owned by two other railroads who wanted to span the Ohio  at Metropolis Illinois.  IC already had its ferry across the Ohio at Brookport, via the St. Louis, Alton & Terre Haute Railroad acquisition , and originally had little interest in the bridge.  However, the complete freezing of the Ohio River in 1917 soon showed those short comings, and the IC was actually the first to cross the new bridge.  While the ferry operation at Brookport would last a few more years, the IC would eventually be part owner of the P&I.

Map

Built: 

 1916-1928

Admitted: 

 1928

Fate: 

 Still in service.

Dedicated Links:

 None Known

Source   Most of the data came from Carlton J. Corliss' 1950 book, Main Line of Mid-America

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