No. 2423, a 4-8-2 Mountain type locomotive, eases a passenger train out of Champaign. Built in late 1924 by Lima Locomotive Works, these engines were assigned to freight and passenger duty alike. Within a year the 2400 class Mountains would be gone from the Illinois Division. (Photograhs by Richard Jacobs)
By Richard Jacobs
I was a sophomore at Purdue University in 1952 and a member of the ROTC Drill Team. We were invited to put on a demonstration at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois. After our drill was completed, most of the others went to the campus of the University of Illinois in nearby Champaign-Urbana. I did not.
I went to the Illinois Central railroad station, which sat next to the mainline and the yards. It was my first glimpse of the Main Line of Mid-America and its locomotives. Attached are several photos I took that day. I used a Kodak Brownie reflex camera to capture the images on 127 film square format. My prints were scanned for this article because I no longer have the negatives).
The Central purchased 2-8-4 locomotives from Lima. Unlike those on the Nickel Plate, the IC engines were not successful. They were rebuilt into 4-8-2 s at the company shops in Paducah, Kentucky. The IC stabled three groups of 4-8-2s, numbered in the 2400, 2500 and 2600 series. There were many IC 4-8-2s on the roster before the reduction in steam locomotives in favor of diesels in the 1950s.
J. Parker Lamb’s article in the Spring 2010 issue of Classic Trains brought home memories of that day in Champaign. It was my only opportunity to see and photograph Illinois Central steam.
Early in 1956, I left Purdue to start my NACA/NASA 45-year career as an aerospace engineer. The Illinois Central steam was gone shortly after.
Classic Trains is my favorite railroad magazine. It brings home to me the memories of my early journeys trackside to see and photograph the trains. I have been watching trains since 1941 and photographing them since 1946.
Mountain type No. 2555 moves a southbound freight out of Champaign. This locomotive was built in 1942 at IC's Paducah shops. Its class was built from a combination of new and used components, the latter of which were taken from 2-10-2 that IC retired. This enabled these locomotives to have larger boilers than their 2400 series cousins.
Two Mountain types, Nos. 2511 and 2612 idle at the coal dock. Within a year only two 2500 series locomotives were still in active service, both on the Kentucky Division.
A southbound freight lumbers out of Champaign. Note the water canteen behind the tender. IC added these because some of their steam locomotives had a lesser capacity tender.
No. 2511 has just been serviced and is ready to report for duty. This locomotive was built in Paducah in 1937.
Switcher No. 3503 works the Champaign yards. IC had 70 of these 0-8-0 and they remained largely unchanged during the rebuilding era. The locomotives were acquired between 1921 and 1929.
The coming of the diesel switch locomotives, such as the one shown here in Champaign, would spell the end of the 0-8-0 steam switchers. But 19 of the 0-8-0s would remain on the IC roster through 1960.
IC purchased 65 diesel switch locomotives in 1950 and 1951 to replace steam-powered 0-8-0 switchers. The new diesels were assigned all over the IC.
An ancient wood caboose reposes in the Champaign yard, its future about as murky as the futures of the steam locomotives around it.
A more moden IC caboose poses for Jake's camera. These cabooses continued to serve on the IC well into the 1960s and 1970s.