The C&EI physical plant in the 1940s and 1950s.
Track was in top shape throughout the C&EI. Most rail was fairly heavy, weighing 115 lb. per foot. Secondary main lines were generally of 90 lb. weight. South of Salem, Illinois rail was 90 lb. Ballast was slag, crushed stone, or gravel throughout the 800 miles of mainline, while cinders were commonly used for the sidings and switching yards.
The C&EI was headquartered in downtown Chicago. A large accounting facility was also located on Chicago’s near-southside. Engineering and operating departments of the railroad were headquartered in Danville.
Yard Center in Dolton — had two hump operations for the mechanized sorting of freight cars.
Brewer Yard in Danville
Villa Grove Yard in Villa Grove
Salem Yard in Salem
Mitchell Yard in East Saint Louis
Wansford Yard (new in 1950) in Evansville
Alice Yard in Terre Haute
Dearborn Station (also known as Polk Street Station) in Chicago was the C&EI’s major passenger terminal.
Fairchild Street Station in Danville
Terre Haute Union Station
Evansville Union Station
Saint Louis Union Station
From 1907 until 1952, all C&EI trains on the Chicago-Danville line were controlled by Miller Train Control. The system would cause a train’s brakes to be applied automatically if the train’s engine overran (went past) a red stop signal. The C&EI pioneered this train control system, the forerunner of much ot today’s automated electrical systems.
Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) was in operation in Indiana between Clinton and Evansville. CTC put one man, the dispatcher, in charge of nearly all signals along a segment of track. By throwing electric switches, signal lights could be controlled from many miles away. The dispatcher’s office was located in Danville.
Improved manual block was in operation between Findlay Junction and Pana, Illinois. With improved manual block, orders were still issued to train crews via telegraph, but important turnouts could not be thrown (and a train diverted onto another track) unless an operator threw the necessary electrical switches to make this possible. All turnouts were interlocked and controlled from Findlay Junction near Findlay, Illinois.
Main shop facilities
Oaklawn Shops, located in the eastern part of Danville, Illinois, were the C&EI’s main shops for the repair of rolling stock locomotives, freight cars, and passenger cars.
Compared to other railroad shops, Oaklawn Shops were medium-sized, employing over 1200 workers from the Danville area. They were, however, well-maintained and modern. Most shop structures dated from the early 1900s. An important exception was a very modern paint shop built in the 1930s.. A transfer table — a kind of motorized bridge that moved back and forth in front of all the shop doors — was used to position rolling stock in the shop bays.
The C&EI built many of its own boxcars, hoppers and cabooses here. The diesel shop was one of the best in the country. Today the facility still serves railroad industry as a freight car building for Johnstown America.
Roundhouse locations in the post World War II years
In addition to the large roundhouse at the Oaklawn Shops in Danville, other roundhouses were used to make running repairs on switch engines and also to inspect road units.
Yard Center in Dolton
Chicago Heights maintained by the Chicago Heights Terminal Transfer (CHTT), a subsidiary of the C&EI.