The Kankakee & Seneca Railroad

The Kankakee & Seneca Railroad ran between its namesake towns beginning in 1881. Linking the CRI&P and The Big Four Railroad, it was nonetheless abandoned in 1933. (Right of Way)

According to Dennis DeBruler, "[the] K&S was organized in 1881, and it was intended to be a link between the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway. The later was known as the Big Four, and its successor was the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, CCC&STL. Rock Island and Big Four each owned half of the K&S, but it operated under the Big Four name. 

Nonetheless, the K&S had its own train crews and station agents. The road began operations in 1882 and went between Kankakee and Seneca via Bonfield, Freilings, Union Hill, Essex, Coster, Gardner, Booth, Mazon, Wauponsee, and Langham. It had 42.15 miles of main track and 6.41 miles of sidetracks. It was abandoned Feb 24, 1933. All of the track east of North Gonnam Road south of the river has been removed. And the towns of Freilings and Wauponsee disappeared after the abandonment."

Here we have an Eastbound Kankakee and Seneca mixed passenger/freight train arriving into the town of Bonfield, IL. This was taken some time between 1900 and 1910. The train is lead by a CRI&P 4-4-0. (Josh Biggers via Facebook)


The K&S was primarily a freight line, but also transported passengers. "While the K & S railroad line primarily carried freight, there was passenger service of a sort: one train per day in each direction was listed as an “accommodation.” That term meant there was a lone passenger car attached to the otherwise all-freight train. The drawback to the accommodation train was highly-variable travel time: depending upon demand, the train might stop anywhere along the line to add or drop off freight cars." (Daily-Journal)

Image: Bonfield Station

The western end of the line remains in service, including a bridge over the Illinois River serving industrial customers east of Seneca. Despite being abandoned in 1933, it's still a fairly easy trace along the Illinois farmland.

Thanks as always for reading!

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