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Missouri-Illinois Railroad
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Here's a story from the 'St Louis Post Dispatch' 1955, submitted by David Beckermann. The photos are from Mr. Beckermann's personal collection.

Missouri and Illinois Rail Line Had Stormy Career From Start
Phil Eydmann, Who Operated First Engine, Tells Story of Road's Construction and Later Difficulties

By WAYNE LEEMAN, a staff correspondent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (1955)

Missouri & Illinois 2-8-0 #12 Ste Genevieve, Missouri. - David Beckermann Collection

STE. GENEVIEVE, MO - It isn't often that a man who helped build a railroad 53 years ago is still around to talk about it. It is even more rare to find such a person readily conversant with essential dates and related facts.

That's exactly the situation with Phil Eydmann, veteran engineer living here who retired in 1943. The railroad in question is the Missouri-Illinois, since 1929 a subsidiary of the Missouri Pacific Lines.

M&I #25 pulling a cut of cars up the incline from the transfer boat, the "Ste Genevieve" at Ste Genevieve, MO, on the Mississippi River. Notice the idler car/caboose just behind the steam tender. The M-&I had several of these cars, used to "reach" the freight cars and draw them from the ferry without putting the full weight of the locomotive on the deck. - David Beckermann Collection

Crossed on Sand Barge

Eydmann was sent over by sand barge from Illinois with an engine to run a work train on July 9, 1902. Thirteen months later he operated the first passenger special for which rides were free. He kept running trains for 40 more years before stepping aside to take it easy. He is now 77 years old.

The veteran engineer liked people and met a lot of them. He was interested in facts, asked questions and remembered the answers. As a result, general conversation with him produces many details little emphasized if ever mentioned at all.

There are two main parts of the Missouri-Illinois, often called the Mike and Ike for obvious reasons. One runs from Bonne Terre to Riverside and basically is the old Bonne Terre and Mississippi River railroad. It plays little part in this story.

A rather famous shot of the 3rd "Ste Genevieve", the Missouri-Illinois rail car ferry, which was retired in 1961. The Transfer Boat is seen with a steam engine pulling a cut of cars off the deck. The boat itself has two steam engines, one on each side, with dual paddlewheels. - David Beckermann Collection

Car Ferry Still Used

The other is the line that runs from Bismark to Salem, Ill. From the time the sand barge brought Eydmann and engine to the newly made incline here 53 years ago, the sections on each side of the Mississippi have depended on a car ferry for crossing.

The present boat, third in service, is the Ste. Genevieve, one of the few left on the Father of the Waters.

The story of this piece of railroad is inextricably woven into the fabulous career of the late Chicago financier, John R. Walsh, whom Eydmann met and talked with many times.

A yellow and tattered clipping in the reference department of the Post-Dispatch dated Dec. 24, 1905, devotes almost a page to a review of Walsh's career. It describes him as a newsboy who became a multi-millionaire, then was "ruined by the enemies he loved to make".

Born in 1837 in Ireland, he came with his parents in Gold Rush days to Chicago; the city knew the family virtually from then on. Walsh died not long after the story appeared.

Here's an early shot of the old M&I Depot in Ste. Genevieve, MO. The track closest to the camera is the Frisco's mainline to St Louis. - David Beckermann Collection

Headed 3 Banks

President of three banks, he engaged in industrial activities that rivaled the listings on the stock exchange board. Apparently the events that led to building the line from Ste. Genevieve to Bismark started when he loaned $400,000 to the old Centralia and Chester, an amount which is one of the details supplied by Eydmann.

It went into receivership in 1898; Walsh bought it to protect his interest in May 1901. At that time he gave it the name Illinois Southern. With a railroad on his hands, he decided to expand the system by finding a new market for his Indiana coal holdings.

The Lead Belt attracted his attention, leading to construction plans. Eydmann recalls that originally the line was to go on to Salem, Mo., to tap the timber resouces of that part of the state. Walsh's financial difficulties ended that.

Another who remenbers the same thing is Leo (Bill) Rehm, who worked at 17 on construction of the Missouri and Illinois and now is senior conductor on the run to Bismark. He and Eydmann worked together for years.

The Ste Genevieve depots, the M & I / MoPac on the left and the Frisco on the right, sometime in the mid to late 60's. The crossover track allowed M&I trains to head south on the Frisco towards Cape Girardeau, MO. The Frisco depot was demolished in the 80's, while the MoPac depot survived until 2002. - David Beckermann Collection

Trouble Developes

When Eydmann arrived with the engine, there was only a little track beyond the incline. There was also serious trouble ahead. Putting down the new rail had progressed only into what is now downtown Ste. Genevieve when difficulties developed with the Frisco.

That railroad, having only recently taken over the old Hauck properties, wanted to get on the inside nearest the town. After work stopped one evening, the Frisco, Eydmann relates, put its own track across, spiking it heavily in place. And then added two freight cars on the crossing for good measure.

The Illinois Southern construction foreman promptly directed Eydmann to "kick" two cars of rails with his engine in such a way to overturn the others. Before that the Frisco had gone to Hillsboro to get an injunction against interference.

When Eydmann complied, he, his fireman and 26 other men were put in jail by the sheriff and held there 24 hours. This was about July 27, 1902. Legal details were soon cleared to permit construction to continue.

The next major obstacle was a natural one - the crossing of the valley of Rough Creek. It required a bridge, still standing, which is 693 feet long and 105 feet high in its tallest place. Work began, the retired engineer recalls, on Sept. 1, 1902. He went over with the first engine on Nov. 8 of the same year. In addition there were fills of 500 feet on the west and 300 feet on the east.

The first passenger service was from Ste. Genevieve to Bismark where connection was made with an accommodation train to St. Louis. When the Frisco's shorter line was completed, the service was changed. First it was from Salem, then Chester to Bismark before being eliminated entirely in November 1918.

M&I #74, an Alco RS-3 unit and the idler car/caboose sitting at the engine house at Ste Genevieve, MO. Built in March 1955, Engine #74 was later renumbered as MI 973, then MI 1092 before finally being retired in February 1974. - David Beckermann Collection

Transfer Boat Sinks

Financial difficulties were brewing for the little road in that period. They were brought to a head when the first Ste. Genevieve, also the first regular transfer boat, sank on the Illinois side. This boat was two-tracked and had a wooden hull.

Partly as a result of its sinking, the road went into receivership, closing down completely Dec. 12, 1919. When it reopened March 21, 1921, it had been purchased by the St. Joseph Lead Company.

The original Ste. Genevieve was replaced by the Kellogg, a two-track, 12-car boat, which lasted only a year. At that time it was shifted to Angola, La., for sand service where it sank. The present steel hulled Ste. Genevieve, built in 1922 at Charleston, W.Va., started in that year and has been on the job since. It can carry 18 cars on three tracks, generally operates eight to 13 hours a day.

M&I enginehouse at Ste Genevieve, MO with M&I caboose sitting on the lead. - David Beckermann Collection

Eydmann, who had been working in Bonne Terre at his original trade of machinist, while the road was shut down, came back here as engineer, then served as roundhouse foreman for the next 10 years.


When the line resumed operation, the local freight crew switched the lime plant just outside town, getting as many as 10 cars a day. Currently it is the Mississippi Lime Co., a major industry, and shipments averaging 75 cars daily are an economic mainstay of the railroad. Not long ago 131 cars were billed out in one 24-hour period. Switch crews work there round the clock.

Eydmann, born near Marissa, Ill., on a farm, met his wife, the former Carrie D. Yeager when boarding at her parent's home near Farmington in construction days. A son, also named Phil, is a fireman here, qualified as an engineer.

By WAYNE LEEMAN, a staff correspondent of the St.Louis Post-Dispatch. (1955)
Special thanks to David Beckermann for sharing from his personal collection.

Missouri Illinois 4-4-0 #205 - the MoPac subsidiary's power is shown in a fireman's side view with two passenger cars. On the white border, below the photo, Furler wrote the name of the railroad, its length, and number of engines and cars. - Donald W. Furler Photo/T. Greuter Collection

Missouri-Illinois #502 - a fireman's side view of a 2-8-2. - Donald W. Furler Photo/T. Greuter Collection


Missouri-Illinois #1065 - this GP12 (ex-RS3) is caught pausing between chores. Taken in the St Louis-Dupo area in the 1980's. - Jerry Carson Photo/T. Greuter Collection ·

MP/ M&I 50' "Cusion Car" from the late 70's at the rail yard in Ste Genevieve, Missouri. The M & I boxcar had lost it's MI reporting mark and been re-lettered MP. - Dave Beckermann Photo

A Brief History of the Missouri-Illinois
The Missouri-Illinois was part of MoPac's family since the steam-filled days of April, 20 1929. M-I subsidiary MRBT (Mississippi River & Bonne Terre) was leased by M-I.
The Missouri-Illinois was a major shortline running along both sides of the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. It was wholly owned by the Missouri Pacific from July 1, 1929 after the consolidation of a number of Missouri and Illinois shortlines. The M-I served the rural parts of Missouri and Illinois - for a small railroad it was an impressive carrier of freight, mineral ore, coal, passengers, and even operated a ferryboat transfer service, all in just 200 miles of mainline.

The Missouri-Illinois was originally formed in 1921 out of the banckrupt Illinois Southern (itself the consolidation of the old Illinois Southern and the Southern Missouri Railway - both created in 1900 to build a route from Mississippi to Kansas City) The Illinois Southern suffered a major disastor when it's steamship ferry sank in 1920, literally taking half of the railroad with it, thus forcing the railroad out of business. This foreclosure brought about the creation of the M-I, which took over the line.

The Mississippi River & Bonne Terre RR (MR&BT) was the primary subsidiary of the M-I. Formed on May 11, 1888 and spreading from Bonne Terre northward to Riverside, Missouri and connecting to the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern, the MR&BT road operated over 66 miles of railline at it's peak. It's primary resource was the wealthy mineral stronghold of southeastern Missouri.

M-I is fondly remembered for their ALCo diesels. The road bucked the EMD trend and bought almost exclusively ALCo-built road switchers for their operations (with the exception of a few EMD switch engines). First came a single RS-2 (one of only four system-wide) The M-I must have liked the RS, because for their next aquistion they again ignored the popular GP7 in preference for the new RS-3 roadswitcher, purchasing a total of 13 of these units, a third of the total aquired by the whole MoPac system. These units had "Missouri Illinois" spelled out on their sides in the blue and gray scheme. By the age of the screaming eagles, ownership of these units was reduced to simple sublettering under the parent company's emblem.

The Missouri Pacific aquired a controlling interest in both the M-I and the MR&BT on July 1st, 1929. These two shortlines were then consolidated and the Missouri-Illinois ran as a subsidiary until October 25th, 1978. The small Missouri-Illinois was the last railroad to officially fall under the Mopac flag, being merged on November 1, 1978.

Cabooses of the Missouri Pacific Lines, by G. J. Michels
Missouri Pacific Diesel Power, by Kevin EuDaly

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