Illinois Terminal, new and old:

I am fortunate in that I was born and grew up in Saint Louis, by one measure the second-biggest railroad hub in the U.S., at least in the sixties. Dad had taken my brother and I train-chasing the Norfolk & Western just after the 1964 merger with WAB and NKP (I never saw any locomotives painted in their colors), and on trips across the river to see the petroleum infrastructure in Alton and Wood River, I’d come across the Illinois Terminal Railway. My impressions: This is different, and This is green! Violently so…

I was aware that ITC had one of the last electric, and also one of the last interurban operations in North America, but these had been gone about ten years before my time and I was interested enough with what I saw. ITC finally got swallowed up by N&W in 1982, but I had moved away by then and I had no way to document their last days. I was glad, however, than N&W had been the one to take them over. 1986, I took my blushing bride on a tour of (by now) Norfolk Southern yards as part of our honeymoon (!), and I saw an ITC-painted SW1500 working in Luther Yard. That was it for the green and yellow. I thought to myself that if I won the lottery, I’d make NS an offer to paint some of their locomotives, but I’m still waiting on that…

However, a guy named Terry Respondek does own a railroad, and is an ITC fan, and in April had painted a motor in ITC colors! Twenty-four years after my last encounter, Memorial Day morning found me blasting north on IL-3 through ESL and Brooklyn on my way to Granite City, looking to scour the Tri-City Port for one particular SD40-2…

I expected the railroad to be shut down for the holiday but I was prepared to be patient while I followed every track in the complex. I heard a horn nearby but unseen, which made me wonder just what was going on…and here it was!

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Lawdy, ain’t it beautiful! I talked with a couple of members of the ITC Historical Society who had moved the motor for a couple photos, hard to say what I would have found if I’d been there fifteen minutes earlier or later!

I-270 over the river to North Saint Louis, continuing my tour what what had piqued my interests in railroads long ago, this time armed with a good camera, and more importantly, a car! Norfolk Southern was shut down, T.R.R.A. practically nonexistent on the Missouri side these days, and I can see BNSF and UP in Omaha, so why bother?

Broadway south to the Mallinckrodt plant, then a few photos of what are, honestly, the ruins of the ITC. This carried the ITC into Saint Louis, not to Union Station but to their own terminal north of downtown. Both the electric and passenger operations ceased in the mid-50’s, while the freight, diesel operations continued on a life-support basis until 2002 or so.

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To a kid, this overhead to me typified the industrial plant of Old America–iron, massive, black, important. Now, not so much. Such useless reminders of days–and industries–gone by would have been demolished in a second had they been in an affluent suburb or if government money was available for urban renewal, but this is Saint Louis and no one cares much to flatten stuff when there is nothing to replace it! So, still massive, but less black and more rust, and not important:

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The McKinley bridge (used to be rail/auto, now bike/hike/autos), with the Merchants Bridge (rail-only, never been anything but) behind:

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I had every intent to hike the part of overhead trestle still in use and then over the McKinley and back, but there was no place to park my car, and to be honest the McKinley was rebuilt to be utilitarian in the extreme, not pretty at all. So, that was that, only a minor disappointment on a beautiful, hot, humid day in tha STL.

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Author: Damon Hynes

Used to chase tornadoes, until Ma Nature ran out of them...

3 thoughts on “Illinois Terminal, new and old:”

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