IC ‘Heritage Units’ on the Former IC

My first glimpse of IC 1027 came at Paxton, Ill. My eyes must have lighted up at the site of the IC "death star" logo on the nose.

My first glimpse of IC 1027 came at Paxton, Ill. My eyes must have lighted up at the site of the IC “death star” logo on the nose.

I don’t know how many locomotives still exist that wear the Illinois Central’s Spartan black and white livery with the “deathstar” logo, but judging by what I read on railfan websites that number is small and shrinking.

The IC was acquired by Canadian National in 1998 and a year later CN began integrating the IC into its network. For awhile the term “CN-IC” was used in daily operations, but that term seems to have fallen by the wayside and it’s just CN today.

You might think that the former IC mainline between Chicago and New Orleans might be a good place to be if you wanted to see former IC locomotives still wearing IC “colors.”

But that is not necessarily the case. On my last couple of visits to the former IC I saw nary a locomotive in IC “colors.” I put the word “colors” in quotation marks because, truth be told, there is nothing colorful about the IC locomotive livery.

But the IC is and always will be my favorite railroad so those locomotives look beautiful to me. But fact I rarely get to see, let alone photograph, them only makes me covet them all the more.

Earlier this month I made a pilgrimage back to my home state to do some research and get in some railfanning along the former Mainline of Mid-America.

I could have chosen a better time. The weather was lousy nearly all the while that I was there with overcast skies and frequent rain.

But I did get lucky in one regard. I would see two locomotives still wearing the IC “deathstar” livery.

I was sitting at Paxton, Ill., listening to the scanner when the Desk 2 RTC Homewood dispatcher spoke with a southbound about to leave Gilman. The conversation revealed that the lead unit was the IC 1027. That got my attention big time.

So when that train came through Paxton my eyes must have widened at the sight of the lead unit with the white “deathstar” logo on the nose.

I thought that would be the end of it with the 1027, but later that day I was pulling out of a Culvers in Champaign when a southbound went past with the 1027 in the lead. The chase was on.

I managed to get this train at Pesotum and Mattoon. The latter happens to be where I grew up and hence getting an IC locomotive passing the former IC passenger station was special, very special.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

About to cross beneath the foot bridge in Paxton.

About to cross beneath the foot bridge in Paxton.

Part of the passenger station at Pesotum is visible at right. This is a nice place to hang out and watch trains the former IC.

Part of the passenger station at Pesotum is visible at right. This is a nice place to hang out and watch trains the former IC.

The southbound is passing beneath the Richmond Avenue bride in Mattoon on Track No. 2. Note the remnants of the passenger platform in the lower right-hand corner. The New York Central's St. Louis line use to cross over the IC on a bridge that used to be in the foreground of this view.

The southbound is passing beneath the Richmond Avenue bride in Mattoon on Track No. 2. Note the remnants of the passenger platform in the lower right-hand corner. The New York Central’s St. Louis line use to cross over the IC on a bridge that used to be in the foreground of this view.

IC 1027 and train pass the former IC passenger station in Mattoon, which is still used by Amtrak. This was the money shot of the sequence in my view.

IC 1027 and train pass the former IC passenger station in Mattoon, which is still used by Amtrak. This was the money shot of the sequence in my view.

The IC 1004 was the third unit in the motive power consist but for me there is no "trail equals fail" when it comes to IC locomotives.

The IC 1004 was the third unit in the motive power consist but for me there is no “trail equals fail” when it comes to IC locomotives. It is shown in Neoga, Ill., the day before I captured the IC 1027.

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One Response to “IC ‘Heritage Units’ on the Former IC”

  1. Paul Woodring Says:

    A locomotive numbered 1027 used to have a lot of significance, back when Kalmbach Publishing’s offices were in the city of Milwaukee. Their street address was 1027, and readers regularly sent them photos of locomotives with that number, which they occasionally published.

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