Some companies might have had second thoughts before tangling with the Pennsylvania Railroad but never the New York Central. Its stations were the largest, its passenger trains the most expensive that could be built and the attention focused on freight traffic was unparalleled.
I was fortunate when I came of age to travel by train. I rode the City of St. Louis in a Pullman from San Francisco, had a seat in the Denver Zephyr from Omaha, and lunched in SP's Auto-Mat on the Coast Daylight. There was a Pullman on the Southern Belle, riding behind PA's on theTexas Chief, and a Planetarium Dome on the Eagle.
However, before all of this the New York Central had long faded from glory. The sleeping car only Southwestern Limited was but a memory. The once magnificent NYC stations were sold off, closed or abandoned. There was but a single NYC train into St. Louis in the 1960s and it looked pitiful compared to my past adventures.
Information on the New York Central or as I quickly learned - the Big Four - in the St. Louis and Central Illinois area has likewise been difficult to obtain. The passenger trains vanished quickly followed by the freight traffic. The trackage was pulled up from east of Pana to at least as far as Paris, Illinois. Nary a depot in site along the way, save for the rather tired one at Mattoon.
Even more rare are NYC retirees who are knowledgeable about operations, freight traffic or might even offer speculative theories about the company's demise.
The national press has long neglected St. Louis area rail activities. Attention seems focused on additional books about the Santa Fe, east coast cabooses or special flat cars on the Pennsy that operated east of Pittsburgh. Most of the rail historical groups of the major cariers which came to St. Louis hardly allow St. Louis a mention in their publications. There is more to the Big Four story than these few pages can hold, but it is a start.
This is the only issue for the 2002 membership year. Your continued support is much appreciated.
The Editor's Page
New York Central System/The Big Four Route
New York Central's Southwestern Limited
Between St. Louis and New York It was Identical to the 20th Century Limited
Pages 4-83, 88-97, with many photos, drawings, timetables, maps, etc., including foldouts at pages 23-24, 49-50, & 67-68
Recollections of a New York Central Terminal Superintendent at East St. Louis, Illinois
"...I remember the last time I saw the East St. Louis freight house..."
New Interlocking Plant to Replace Old Plant Destroyed by Fire
Big Four Days at Mattoon
Notes on Text
In Memorium - Robert E. Tracy
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Last Update: Sun, 4 Jan 2004 by Rich Zellich