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Banner's Unbuilt Peoria and Hannibal Railroad

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In the Village of Banner, IL, a bit south and west of Peoria, IL lies a cryptic sign, " Peoria and Hannibal Railroad Est. 1859 ". But there is no railroad in Banner, and there never was. So what's the story behind this sign? Peoria and Hannibal Railroad Est. 1859  Image:  Cary Miller at Banner, IL The railroad in question proposed to operate in Banner, or more specifically, Utica, IL, as it was originally called, but these were apparently very early plans, and like many railroad charters, this never came to fruition. The company was a predecessor to the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad . In 1859, The Mississippi and Wabash Railroad, which itself was an early predecessor to the Toledo Peoria & Western Railroad , and the Peoria & Hannibal were trying to come into an agreement with each other to operate along the same territory between nearby Canton and Pekin, IL; either as a joint railway on the same track, or separate grades. The following excerpt comes fr

Discovering an Old Railroad Bridge: A Quick Lesson on How Valuable LiDAR Data Can Be

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It probably come as no surprise that I love to learn about our transportation history, and one of the best ways to do that is to study satellite imagery, both current and historic. I've talked before about some of my favorite, free, resources  to that end. But there's also another tool that comes in handy on occasion for finding bits of history you otherwise wouldn't have known about. Or that you knew about, but couldn't find. I'm referring to LiDAR data , which stands for Light Detection and Ranging Imagery.  Let's take a look at the satellite image below of the area just to the north of Cicero, Indiana. Spot any abandoned rights of way? It's ok if you did not; I certainly would not have. There's an existent rail line through the Morse Reservoir , and that's all that appears to be visible. Indiana Satellite Imagery just north of Cicero . But let's see what the Digital Terrain Model, or DTM, LiDAR data on the same area shows, and suddenly, anothe

The East Moline & Campbell's Island Railway

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Campbell's Island is located on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River across from Bettendorf, IA. It has the distinction of being the westernmost battle site of the War of 1812.  "Campbell's Island State Memorial is a granite monument that marks the site of a day-long battle on July 19, 1814 during the War of 1812 on Campbell's Island, Illinois." (Enjoy Illinois) The memorial was built in the first decade of the 20th century, at a time of significant building on the island. In 1901, an interurban railway known as the Moline, East Moline & Watertown Railway was incorporated along a six mile line to serve the three cities. Today, Watertown is part of of East Moline, IL, but got its start as a stop on the Milwaukee Road north and east of Moline. A year after incorporation, the company proposed to build up the island as a resort, purchasing the entire island the following year. "After the Moline, East Moline & Watertown Railway Co. bought the island

The McKeesport Connecting Railroad (1899-2021)

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In May of 2021, the Union Railroad Company , a short line company in Pennsylvania, submitted an application to abandon "5.4-miles of switching and terminal trackage in the City of McKeesport in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (known as the “MCR Track”). ( STB  - AB_183_5_X). This was originally known as the  McKeesport Connecting Railroad . The MCR dates back to 1899, and became part of the Union Railroad on Jan 1st, 2013. ( Location and right of way ) The abandonment request states that "No customers have been served by URR over the MCR Track for over four years, [as of 2021]. Following abandonment, URR will convey the right-of-way to DB Pipe , LLC with the MCR Track’s rail and related track material intact." While DB Pipe, LLC has no immediate plans to salvage the MCR Track, it will be responsible for such salvaging should it occur in the future." Abandonment is a very long legal process, for the reasons that existing railroad rights of way are an incredibly valuab

The Abandoned Tracks at Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area

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The Heidecke Lake  State Fish and Wildlife Area is best known for its fishing lake, which was built in 1978 as a cooling reservoir for the now defunct Collins Generating Station , which closed in the early 2010's. Just south and west of the property exists the nearly abandoned White-Holderman Cemetery . It's located just south of the Illinois River , east of Morris, IL in Grundy County. We visited the area a few years back on a dual mission; to fish and enjoy the great outdoors and, at least for me, to get up close and personal with some forgotten railroad tracks, which split the lake into two. ( Right of way map ) I enjoyed the great outdoors and got some pictures of this line, but no fish, not that I ever catch anything. FRRandP Photo, August 2018. The tracks are quite rusted in spots, and are a good example of what happens to tracks without proper maintenance and use. There's a certain finality that people believe when tracks are pulled up as to the status of a rail li

Railroad Vocabulary: A List of Words and Phrases Used in the Industry

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As somebody who enjoyed watching trains, but was not an employee of the railroad industry ( at least growing up ), when I would interact with railfans and historians, there was often a lot of technical jargon that applied only to the railroad industry thrown back and forth that made it difficult for a newcomer to understand what they were talking about. For example, what is a dinky? It's actually a passenger train. This non-inclusive language seems to keep the loop closed to members of the community, and to uncouple (no pun intended) that technical jargon and help make it easier for people to communicate with people in the industry, I am creating a list of railroad vocabulary that I'm hoping will make the industry more transparent.  BNSF 2361 . Image: Matt Flores While I ultimately believe that such technical jargon has no place outside of perhaps technical communications between employees, I know quite well that I alone am not going to stop people from communicating in a non-i

The Ill-Fated Illinois Route 53/120 Project in Lake County

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It's been a few years since anyone has thought about extending Illinois Route 53 north of Lake Cook Road in earnest, and the project is all but dead . Facing an incredible cost, negative environmental impact, questionable need, and public opposition, I think it's ultimately for the best that road has not, and does not, get built. That is not to say that I do not support significant improvements in Lake County's roads, but I think this was the wrong solution to the issue. Illinois 53 Right of Way sign, officially known as FAP 342 . Photo: Paul Vallade, Daily Herald. Having had a birds-eye view of Lake County's traffic problems over the better part of four years, I believe that the county would be much better served by upgrading their existing state highways, and by removing grade crossings wherever possible. Lake County seems to have more grade crossings along their roads than any of the other collar counties, which is a big creator of traffic from freight trains as wel