by James J. Buckley, 1918-1994


This is a transcription of a manuscript which, as far as I know, has never been published.  It was written in 1985.  Since I believe it is worthy of publication, I have copied it into this form.  The only conscious editing I have done is clearly marked: words I have added appear within [square brackets], and words which I would delete appear in strikeout.  Words I have been unable to be certain of my transcription appear with [?] following them.  And I have taken the liberty of putting periods on abbreviations.  Otherwise, the text appears just as it left James Buckley's hand, as closely as I can reproduce in this medium.

H. George Friedman, Jr.
August 11, 2013


Danville, the county seat of Vermillion county, is located in the eastern part of the state, one mile from the Indiana state line.  It is 124 miles south of Chicago, 187 miles northeast of St. Louis and 85 miles west of Indianapolis.  The city was platted in 1827 and was named for Dan Beckwith who had given some acreage for a county seat.  Shortly afterward the first grist mill was built.  Grain was cheap and the commissions on grinding were low, consequently not much money was made, nevertheless the mill was needed.  Soon other mills were built, also some sawmills.  The sawmills made good money, all were built on the Vermillion River or Stony Creek.  The panic of 1837 knocked some of them out of business.

Danville was first planned for a river town and the early settlement was on the river.  There were dreams of getting rich on the river trade.  There was considerable flatboat traffic down the rivers to New Orleans, where the owners would sell their produce and boats and make their way overland back to Danville.  But, the Vermillion River, because of its insufficient depth, failed to materialize as a river town.  Nevertheless commercial transportation was chiefly by rivers and the whole Illinois country west to the Sangaman river was wholly dependent upon the Wabash river towns for supplies.  Danville was not on the Wabash river.  It was not until the arrival of the railroads that Vermillion county was released from the bondage of the Wabash river and the canal that was built alongside it.

As early as 1831 Vermillion and other counties petitioned congress for a strip of land between Chicago and Vincennes for a railroad.  The Chicago & Vincennes Ry. was granted a charter in 1835, in the same year a charter was secured for a railroad from Quincy, on the Mississippi river to the Indiana state line in the direction of Lafayette via Springfield, Decatur and Danville.  This railroad was chartered under the name of the Northern Cross RR.  Construction of this road was undertaken by the state.  $1,800,000 was appropriated and spent in 1837-39 in grading the roadbed from Champaign county line east to the Vermillion river and in the heavy cuts and fills adjacent to it and in erecting the three large abutments of piers for the bridge.  Thus the heaviest and most expensive part of the road east of [the] Sangaman river, was practically finished before the panic of 1837.  This fiasco bankrupted the state.  In 1853 the road was revived, this time from Decatur east across the state.  The heavy work previously done in Vermillion county was too valuable to be thrown away.  Another fact [that] helped develop the road was that another line [was] under construction up the Maumee and down the Wabash rivers.  The projectors had originally intended keeping down the east side of the Wabash river making their connection with St. Louis by way of Paris.  The Northern Cross RR. was renamed Sangaman & Northern RR. in April, 1847 and again in February, 1853 as the Great Western of Illinois RR.

Toledo interest[s] promoted the Indiana line.  They formed two companies in 1853.  The Toledo & Illinois RR. would build from Toledo to the Indiana state line and the Lake Erie Wabash & St. Louis RR. would continue the line across Indiana.  Construction began in 1854 out of Toledo.  These two roads were merged in the summer of 1856 to form the Toledo Wabash & Western Ry.  The first locomotive into Danville was the Great Western's PIONEER crossing the bridge over the Vermillion river in October, 1856.  The connection with the TW&W was made five miles northeast of Danville in Makemson's timber.  The next day Wabash engines were in Danville.  This road was intended to have Danville as a terminal point and for a time did operate the section between Danville and the state line, but there was a disagreement and the Wabash withdrew to the state line compelling the Great Western to follow.  The TW&W went into receivership and was sold at foreclosure to the Toledo & Wabash Ry. in October 1858 (the roads were completed between Toledo and Quincy in 1857).  In 1865 the GW and T&W were merged into the second Toledo Wabash & Western Ry., to Wabash Ry. 1877, 1879 Wabash St. Louis & Pacific RR. and in May, 1889 to Wabash RR.  Trains were run thru Danville from Toledo to St. Louis and to Kansas City.

What Danville needed was a railroad to Chicago and in 1868 the state legislature passed a[n] act authorizing the townships to vote bond issues for the construction of such a railroad.  Danville voted a $72,000 bond issue for the construction of the railroad and $75,000 for the erection [of] the carshops in this city.  Another railroad, the Evansville Terre Haute & Chicago was chartered June 2, 1869 and on October 26, 1871 put in service a 51 mile road between Danville and Terre Haute.  The Chicago Danville & Vincennes RR was chartered on ______ and began service between Chicago and Danville November 16, 1871 using trackage rights over TW&W from Danville Jct.  Both roads began using their own line into Danville June 10, 1872.  The panic of 1872 bankrupted both roads.  The CD&V reorganized as the Chicago & Eastern Illinois RR. September 1, 1877.  In January, 1880 the C&EI took over the ETH&C.  In December 1887 the C&EI built a 40 mile line to Villa Grove connecting here with a line they were going [to] build to Cypress tapping the southern Illinois coalfields.  [It was] finished to Cypress in January 1900.

At the same time that the Chicago road was being pushed the Indianapolis Crawfordsville & Danville RR. chartered ______ 1868 and the Danville Urbana Bloomington & Pekin RR. chartered ______ 1868 were being promoted.  Both roads were consolidated July 20, 1869 into the Indianapolis Bloomington & Western RR.  The Danville Township voted to purchase $100,000 IB&W stock.  The IC&D was extended as far west as Crawfordsville late in 1869.  The DUB&P was completed from Pekin to Danville in [on] October 1, 1869.  In January, 1870 the connection was made and thru trains were inaugurated.  The road was reorganized in January, 1887 as the Ohio Indiana & Western Ry., [and in] February, 1890 to the Peoria & Eastern Ry. which at the same time was leased to the Big Four.  [It] became the P&E again on February 1, 1930.  Passenger trains were run thru from Indianapolis to Peoria.

The Paris & Danville RR. was chartered March 26, 1869 and began constructing a 37 mile line utilizing in part the abandoned grade of another line.  It was completed in September, 1872.  At Danville connections were made for Chicago with the CD&V.  In 1875 [it was] extended south to Lawrenceville where connections were made for Cincinnati and St. Louis.  In 1879 [it] became the Danville & Southwestern RR. and in 1881 was leased to the Wabash St. Louis & Pacific Ry who [which] built a 6 mile connection to the Cairo & Vincennes RR.  Trains now ran through to Cairo.  In April, 1885 the road became independent again, now the Cairo Vincennes & Chicago RR.  In 1890 [it was] leased to the Big Four.

In 1905 two other roads were built, both to tap the coal fields in southern Indiana.  The Chicago Southern Ry. was chartered on September 26, 1904 by the Walsh brothers.  In 1905-06 [they] completed their line up to Chicago Heights.  In 1908 the road went into receivership and [was] sold under foreclosure November 4, 1910 to the Chicago Terre Haute & Southeastern Ry. Co.  On July 1, 1921 the CTH&SE was leased to the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul Ry. Co. for 999 years.

The other coal road was the Chicago Indiana & Southern RR. Co. chartered and completed an [a] 109 mile line between Indiana Harbor and Danville in 1906.  In December, 1914 [it was] merged into the New York Central system.

It was coal that made Danville a railroad hub.  The city was in the center of one of the greatest coal districts in Illinois, ranked seventh among the counties of the state in the production of coal.  Coal was discovered in Vermillion county by the early settlers and strip bank mining was started in the vicinity of Danville in the 1850's.  By 1900 there were over 20 mines whose output exceeded 2,000,000 annually.  Leading companies were the Himrod, Kelleyville, Glenburn, Westville, Catlin, Economy, Consolidated and Brookside.  These corporations furnished employment to 2,500 miners.  About 8/10th of their entire output was shipped to Chicago, the remainder being consumed by the Big Four and Wabash railroads and by home consumers.  At this time the other big industry was the clay products industry.  It was the home of the largest brick plant in the country (Western Brick Co.).  Three other plants depended on clay as a raw material, either directly or indirectly.  They were the Danville Brick Co., General Refractories Co. and the Advance Industrial Supply Co.  Products included face, paving & common brick, sewer pipe, roofing tile, drain tile and the manufacture of artware, pottery, chinaware, porcelains, sanitaryware and insulating material.  Refractory clays were used in the making of fire brick, retorts, furnace and stove linings.  Population of the city in 1900 was 16,000.

The period 1900-1924 was the boom period.  The city witnessed unprecedented economic growth.  The city became a manufacturing and wholesale center.  Among the larger industries were the Hegeler Bros. Zinc Smelting Works, established 1905, whose plant was located just south of [the] city.  [It] was one of the largest zinc smelters in the country.  Danville Foundry & Machine Co., Chesley Boiler Works, Headley Glass Co., Danville Buggy Co., Horadeen [?] Milling Co., D. D. Snyder & Co., carriage manufacturers, Campbell Bros. Packing Plant, Robert Holmes & Bros., mine machinery.  Some 30 mines produced over 3,000,000 tons of coal annually employing some 4,000 men.  By now coal production was dominated by three companies, Peabody, United Electric & Coal, and U. S. Steel Corp.  Railroad employment increased up to World War I, the C&EI shops in 1916 employed 1,600 people.  Railroad workers were the largest single employment group, then coal, brick making and zinc smelting.  In 1924 the brick yards had 600 workers.

Contrary to the national trend downturn of employment in the railroad and coal industries started in the 1920's.  By 1935 [they] were no longer the economic base of the city.  By 1930 Hegeler Zinc Co. and the Western Brick Co. accounted for 60% of the industrial employment in Danville.


In April, 1906 H. F. Vogel left the St. Louis Car Co. and disposed of his assets in that company in October, 1906 after which he incorporated the Danville Car Co.  The capital stock was $250,000.  A 270 acre tract near Tilton was purchased from W. B. McKinley.  Ground was broken on November 6, 1906.

The erecting shop was 305' x 150', varnish and trimming room 60' x 320', blacksmith shop 82'x 120'.  The dry kilns were 18' x 160'.  The office building 30' x 120', truck and machine shop 120' x 120'.  The plant was connected with the Big Four and Wabash railroads and the Illinois Traction System.  McKinley and Fischer of the ITS interested Vogel into coming to Danville.

The plant was opened on March 16, 1907 and was expected to employ 500 men.  On April 1, 1908 the plant was purchased by the J. G. Brill Co.  It was closed on August 10, 1911.  Thru the years the buildings have had several occupants, [but] at this writing they are vacant.


The ITS was put together by W. B. McKinley and Canadian interest[s] (Sun Live Insurance Co.).  The ITS included the local street railway systems in Danville, Champaign-Urbana, and Decatur, including the gas and electric lighting and steam heating in these cities and 56 miles of interurban ry. extending from Danville to Champaign with branches from Danville to Georgetown, Ridge Farm and Catlin and from Ogden to Homer.  Interurban lines were soon extended all the way to St. Louis and Peoria.  At first construction was done by numerous dummy companies.  The Danville Paxton & Northern Ry. Co. was incorporated December 2, 1899.  In July, 1901 work was begun on an interurban line between Danville and Georgetown, 11 miles.  It paralleled the Big Four all the way.  Service to Westville, 7 miles out, began on October 20[?], 1901, to Georgetown August 27, 1902 and finally to Ridge Farm December 31, 1905.  On May 29, 1902 service was started all the way to Catlin.  The Danville Urbana and Champaign Ry. Co. was incorporated on July 28, 1902.  It took over the DP&N and put in service an interurban line to Champaign on August 29, 1903.


The Citizens Street Railway Co. was chartered June 13, 1883.  Sixty-two businessmen subscribed to the stock in the amount of $20,000.  Famous Danville names appear on the first board of directors: W. P. Cannon, A. C. Daniel, J. G. English, J. B. Mann, A. Smith Williams and J. G. Holden.  J. G. Holden was president.  He was succeeded by W. P. Cannon who held the position until 1900.  Three and one-half miles of track were built.

On June 18, 1883 the franchise for the construction of the horse car lines was granted.  Construction started in July, 1883.  Property was purchased at [what] is now 150 N. Vermillion st. just south of Harrison st.  (the location of the present Palace theater).  A small carhouse, 20' x 60', stable 11' x 32' and a frame office building was [were] built on it.  Five cars were ordered from St. Louis at a cost of about $800 each.

Regular service started on September 22, 1883 on north Vermillion st. from Reddin Square (Main st.) to English st.  On the next day, the 23rd, cars began running on west Main st. to Ellsworth Park (Logan st.).  In October, 1883 service on east Main st. to the Wabash RR. station was started.  In November, 1883 service was extended; track was laid on Madison st. between Vermillion & Chandler streets.  In the same month double track was laid on Vermillion st. between Main and Madison streets.  All five cars were in service, with two cars on order.  Power was 35 mules.

The Junction line (on Williams st. from Vermillion st. to the Junction railroad station) was put in service in January, 1884.  Cars 6 & 7 were received from St. Louis.  Three railroads intersected at a point which became known as the Danville Junction.  The station was built by Hiram Beckwith, who also built the Annex Hotel nearby.

In July, 1884 the east Main st. line was extended across the Wabash RR. tracks thru Rabbittown to the baseball park, about a half mile.

In 1890 the road had five miles of first track, one mile of second track, 10 cars and 60 horses.


The Danville Gas Electric Light & Street Railway Co. was incorporated December 1890.  Into this company were merged the Danville Gas & Light Co., the Merchants Electric Light & Power Co. and the Citizens Street Ry. Co.

Two companies petitioned the city council in June 1891 for a franchise.  The existing company wanted to electrify these lines:

Main Pine to Wabash RR. Station
Vermillion Square to English
English Vermillion to Spring Hill Cemetery
Williams Vermillion to Junction RR station

Another group from Terre Haute wanted to lay 15 miles of track on these streets:

Main Bowman to Mill
Vermillion Reddin Square (Main) to city limits
English Vermillion to Grant
Grant English to Fairchild
Fairchild Grant to Logan
Logan Fairchild to Mill
Washington Main to Madison
Junction av Madison to station
College Main to Green
Green College to Bowman
Bowman Green to Water to Douglas Park

Both franchises were passed by the city council but Mayor Beard only signed the Terre Haute company's franchise.  People claimed he was trying to force the local group to sell out, but it didn't work.

Work started on rebuilding and electrifying the lines in July, 1891.  However, they didn't have a franchise.  Mayor Beard attempted to have the work stopped and the new tracks torn out, but was stopped by a series of injunctions.  Seven cars were ordered from the St. Louis Car Co.  Cost of the work was estimated to be at least $125,000.

They changed from a light rail horse car system to a standard gauge, 50 lb. steel rail [electric] street car system with 7? miles of track extending from the new fairgrounds to the cemetery, from Douglas Park to Lincoln Park and from Ellsworth Park to the Junction.  Nine new cars were put in service, a new carhouse and office was built and the powerhouse enlarged.

Trial trips were made on Main st. between 11 & 12 PM on August 31, 1891.  In spite of the late hour it was estimated that between 200 and 300 took advantage of the offer of free rides.  Two cars were used.  Regular service on Main st. began on September 8, 1891 from the Fairgrounds to the Wabash RR. station.  The bridge over the north fork of the Vermillion river wouldn't hold the street cars.  A walking transfer had to be made.  Connections were made with the horse cars on Vermillion st.  The bridge was beefed up and regular service across it began on October 2, 1891.

Service to Lincoln Park began on September 17, 1891.  Route was from Main st. via Vermillion, Madison, Chandler st. to Fairchild st.  On October 2, 1891 [the] route [was] completed to Lincoln Park via Fairchild st. to Logan st.  About this time service to Douglas Park began.  This route was via Main st., Park, Chestnut (Bryan), Buchanan and Wayne streets to the park.  It was part of the Main st. route, alternate cars down east Main st. to the Wabash RR. station.

The Junction line was put in service on September 23, 1891 via Vermillion & Williams streets and Junction av. (actually prw) to the railroad station.  The last line, the cemetery line was put in service on October 5, 1891.  Route via Vermillion st. & English st. to the Spring Hill cemetery at Washington av.

Joe Cannon is given credit for getting the National Soldiers Home built in Danville.  It was established in Danville by an act of Congress approved June 4, 1897 and was ready for use July 1, 1898 after several buildings were completed.  At this time the cost of the buildings and grounds was $1,600,000.  Of this amount $45,690 was paid for the 325 acres of land which comprise the government reservation.  It was originally established for Civil War veterans.  Thru the years a total of 57 buildings were constructed, including everything.  There is a well equipped hospital.  When Danville had a minor league baseball team in the Three I league, ground on the reservation was leased to the baseball team.  The Main st. carline was extended out to the home in 1898.  The government maintained an excellent band here, which gave outdoor concerts thruout the summer on Sunday afternoons and two evenings each week.  The grounds being free to the public, caused the concerts to be largely patronized by the residents of Danville and Sunday afternoons the company frequently found it necessary to run trains of 2 and 3 cars to accommodate the traffic to these doings.


This company was incorporated December 6, 1899.  At this time they owned 12 miles of track (8.5 miles first track, 3.5 miles second track) 17 motor cars and 3[?] trailers.  The company was purchased by the McKinley syndicate in July, 1900 taking possession on October 1, 1900.  DT was laid on Vermillion st. from Madison to Williams st.  The line had been double tracked from the square (Main st.) to Madison st.  DT was also laid on the entire length of Main st.  In 1901 the Headley Glass Co. built their factory on the east side.  The carline was extended out to this factory from Iowa st. via Main, Illinois and Cannon streets.  Construction began in September, 1901.  Regular service began on January 13, 1902.  It was a shuttle car connecting with the Soldiers Home line at Iowa st.

The first interurban line out of Danville was put in service October 28, 1901 by the Danville Paxton & Northern Ry. to Westville, 6 miles out.  These cars went out west Main st. to Gilbert, using the Gilbert st. bridge across the Vermillion river and then onto south Main st. to the Wabash RR. tracks, then prw following the steam road to Westville.  In 1906 the line was rerouted south on Vermillion st. then angling across the Vermillion river on their own bridge to south Main st.  In 1904 this company built an amusement park (Wayside Park) near Tilton, as an experiment.  A small tract of land, about two acres, was fenced in and a building formerly used as a small carshed was altered into a summer theater.  Admission to the park was made free to patrons of the car line and admission to the gallery of the theater was also free.  The seats on the main floor of the theater were reserved (1904 price 10’!) and entertainments of various kinds were given nightly during the season.  The management of the theater at this park had a circuit of about a dozen railway parks and maintained a number of theatrical companies which it moved around the circuit from week to week, so that fresh attractions were offered at the park each week.  Attendance ran from 600 to 1000 per night, taxing the seating capacity of the theater to its utmost.  Considerable leisure traffic was created for the company.  Danville city cars were used for the extra service.

The Danville Urbana & Champaign Ry. started running their interurban cars thru to Champaign on August 29, 1903.  They left Danville on the old Fairgrounds line out west Main st. then passed the Fairgrounds (Ellsworth Park) and onto Traction and Oakwood avenues to the city limits, then paralleling the P&E towards Urbana.

A dummy company, the Danville & Northern RR. Co was organized on July 1, 1904 for the purpose of extending track on north Vermillion st. outside the city limits to Roselawn.  Construction began in October, 1904.  Track was laid 1.4 miles north from English st. to Cedar av. in Roselawn.  Car 29 made the first trip to Roselawn on Sunday December 11, 1904.  A shuttle car was run from the city limits at Voorhees st. connecting with the Vermillion st. car here.  At the same time regular service on east English st. to the Spring Hill Cemetery was discontinued.  This trackage was retained for “special service”.

Also in the fall of 1904 trackage on the glass works line was extended east on Cannon st. to Oregon st.  Route now know[n] as the Oaklawn line.

On November 16, 1905 the Oaklawn and Roselawn lines were thru-routed.  The Junction cars which had been thru-routed with the west Main st. service now terminated downtown at Reddin square.  While trains of the three big roads always stopped at the Junction, they also stopped at their downtown stations.  Several factors contributed to the demise of the Junction, partly due to the new downtown stations, partly due to the coming of the interurbans and partly due to the movement of the car shops to the east side.  The station wasn't discontinued entirely until 1919.

In June, 1905 work began on a line on west English st. to Lincoln Park from Vermillion st.  On Thursday August 17, 1905 a shuttle car was put in service on the extension between Vermillion and Grant streets.  On September 11, 1905 this service was thru-routed with the Soldiers Home line.  In June, 1907 track on west English st. was extended three blocks west from the Lincoln Park gate to Logan av. serving the Lakeview hospital.

The original C&EI shops were built in 1875 in Germantown, west of the Wabash RR. tracks, adjacent to the Junction.  Construction of the new shops east of the city in Oaklawn began in 1904.

On July 19, 1906 another company, the Danville & Eastern Illinois Ry. Co. was organized to build a line on east Fairchild st. to serve the new shops.  Two miles of track were put in service in October, 1907.  The route was on east Fairchild st. to the city limits and fairground at Stewart av.  At first a shuttle car was run to Vermillion st. connecting with the Roselawn cars here.

This trackage was also supposed to be the entrance into Danville of the “Ben Hur Route”, the Indianapolis Crawfordsville & Western Traction Co.  This company put an interurban line between Indianapolis and Crawfordsville in service on July 7, 1907 but that is the closest they ever got to Danville.  The panic of 1907 cut off their financing.

The company now operated 15.62 miles of 1st track, 4 miles of 2nd track, 1 mile of the D&N and 3? miles of the D&EI (before it was cutback to Stewart av.).

The Danville & Southeastern Ry. Co. was incorporated on September 14, 1907.  This company was backed by the Danville Belt Coal Co. in connection with a real estate development.  Some of their mines had played out and a decision was made to subdivide it.  Their big development was “Highlands”.  Lots were between 3 & 6 acres each.  They were advertised as being ample opportunities for homes with gardens, orchards and other agricultural opportunities.  They also said the buyers could subdivide these big lots further if they chose.  Construction began in 1909 on a 4? miles carline past Highlands to the small settlements of Grape Creek & Brookville.  An hourly schedule was put into effect on Saturday June 11, 1910 opening the line.  It was said to have been the most costly piece of track on the entire Illinois Traction System.  It took more than a year to build, grading started in April, 1909.  The route was from east Main st. via Park st., Chestnut (Bryan) st., Buchanan st. & Perrysville rd. to just past Lane av. where it turned south on prw.  Here began the most difficult part.  A substantial bridge was built over the Vermillion river.  Between the river and Grape Creek a number of cuts were needed.  The line ended on a hill a short distance west of Brookville.  For years the regular car was 134, a DT car.  On August 3, 1913 the line was cutback a half mile to Highlands.  Now two ST cars 23 & 24 were assigned to the route.  They were 1-man cars.

In October, 1914 cars 143-146 which were rebuilt into PAYE cars were put on the Roselawn and Oaklawn lines.

Simultaneous with the opening of the new C&EI station on Fairchild in May, 1917 a new schedule was put into effect which meant better service for a number of sections of the city.  Another car was put on the Fairchild st. line.  Cars on this street now ran every 15 minutes.  Oaklawn and Junction lines were now thru routed, instead of Oaklawn and Lincoln Park.  There had been bitter complaints about poor service on the Lincoln Park line.  Two DT cars were put on the Lincoln Park line which now terminated downtown at Redden square, 15 minute headway.  The Soldiers Home-W English line remained the same, 10 minute headway.  Roselawn-Douglas Park also remained the same, 20 minute headway.  When the Grape Creek line was opened in 1910 another city line was created, Douglas Park.  These cars terminated on Perrysville rd. at Cemetery av. and were thru-routed with the Lincoln Park line.  With the change of stations the greater part of the traffic on the Junction line was diverted to east Fairchild st.  Extra cars were put on east Fairchild st. when needed.

In March, 1918 four new cars, 160-163, were put in service on the Fairchild st. line.

In 1922 16 birneys were ordered.  On January 1, 1923 the first six cars were put in service on the Oaklawn-Junction line.  Shortly afterward birneys were assigned to the Roselawn-W. Main and Lincoln Park-Douglas Park lines.  DT cars were in base service on the Fairchild st. and Soldiers Home-West English routes.


As a result of various acquisitions, consolidations and refinancing by ITS interests the Danville St. Ry. & Light Co. was absorbed into the IP&L on May 28, 1923.

The last 2-man cars were replaced on August 16, 1923.  Cars 160-163, now 1-man were put back on the Fairchild st. line.  Cars 132, 133, 143, 144, 145, & 146 were assigned to the Soldiers Home-West English route.  On the day before August 15, 1923 service to Highlands was discontinued.

Their first bus line began operation on June 1, 1926.  The route was from Redden square via Vermillion, Harrison & Gilbert streets up to Winter av.  On Tuesday August 15, 1927 buses replaced the streetcars on the Junction line.  This bus line was thru routed with the Gilbert st. line.  Buses [ran] from Winter av. via Gilbert av., Main st., Vermillion st. & Williams st. to the Junction railroad station, return the same route.  The headway was 15 minutes.

After 29 years of operation the Roselawn line was bused on Sunday October 1, 1933.  Service was revised effective Tuesday October 1, 1935.  Buses replaced the street cars on Lincoln Park-Douglas Park and W. English streets.  Yellow 728's were purchased for the service.  New bus lines were Douglas Park-Gilbert, these buses from Cemetery av. via Perrysville av., Bryan av., Park st., Main st., Vermillion st., Harrison st., Gilbert av. then loop back via Raymond st., Robinson st., Winter st. and Gilbert av.

Lincoln Park-Vermillion line started from Cedar av. via Vermillion st., Main st., Logan av., Grant st. to Voorhees st., returning via Voorhees st., Logan av., Fairchild st. & Grant st.

The Junction bus line [ran] from the square via Vermillion st., Williams st., Junction av. then across the Wabash RR tracks to Wellington st. continuing on Wellington st., Collett st., Grigg st. to Bowman av., returning via Bowman av., Seminary st., Collett st., & Wellington st.

This left two carlines, Oaklawn-Fairchild and the Soldiers Home line.

Buses replaced the street cars on Fairchild st. February 2, 1936.  These buses [ran] from Redden square via Vermillion and Fairchild streets to the entrance to the fairgrounds, the same route as the street cars had.  The Oaklawn cars operated up Vermillion st. to the Big Four tracks at Davis st. on a 20-minute headway.  The Soldier's Home cars also went up Vermillion st.  They terminated at Fairchild st. also on a 20-minute headway.

On July 24, 1936 a petition was filed with the ICC seeking to discontinue the two carlines and to sell some buses and the business to the Danville City Lines, Inc. a division of National City Lines, Inc.  The IP&L wanted to get out of the transportation business.  On November 25, 1936 the ICC OK'd the deal.  The only objection filed was that by Swallow Coach Lines who wanted some local rights which they didn't get.

Street cars bowed out on December 15, 1936 at 12:15 AM when motorman Virgil Miller arrived at Redden square with car #225.  It was an Oaklawn car.

The Danville City Lines, Inc. paid $52,000 for the property and rights, $47,000 to the IP&L and $5,000 to the National City Lines, Inc.  Buses sold to the DCL were 106-110 Yellow X31's, 111-116 Yellow X17's and 117-119 White 706M's.

The DCL put in service four routes as follows:
Rt 1:  From Fowler st. via Fairchild st., Vermillion st., Main st., Illinois st., Canan st. to Oregon st.  Return via Oregon st., Main st. & Illinois st.
Rt 2:  From Soldier's Home to Main st. then via Main st., Vermillion st., Harrison st., Gilbert st., Raymond av., Robinson st. to Winter st.  Return via Winter st. & Gilbert av.
Rt 3:  From Columbus st. via Perrysville av., Buchanan st., Bryan av., Park st., Main st., Vermillion st., Williams st., Wellington st., Collett st., Griggs st., Bowman av., Seminary st.  Returning via Collett st. & Williams st.
Rt 4:  From Newell av. via Vermillion st., Main st., Logan av., Grant st., Fairchild st., Logan av., Voorhees st. to Grant st.  Returning via Grant st., Fairchild st. & Vermillion st.

To and during WWII the Danville City Lines required about 14 buses for the service.  In 1946 8 Fords were purchased and assigned as follows:
Roselawn-Veterans Hospital  3
Lincoln Park-North Gilbert  3
Junction-Douglas Park  2
Fairchild-Oaklawn  used bigger GM buses

DCL sold out to the Bee Line, a subsidiary of American Transit Lines, in 1964.  They had been operating bus lines on the old IT suburban lines to Ridge Farm and Batestown.  They quit on June 1, 1970.  Beginning November 15, 1977 the City of Danville started running a local bus service which today (1985) is still going.


The Citizens St. Ry. Co. horse cars were typical bobtails of the period, Nos 1-5 purchased 1883, 6-7 in 1884, all from some St. Louis builder.  In 1890 had 10 cars.

The first [electric] street cars were Danville Gas Electric Light & Street Ry. Co. 1-7 acquired new in 1891 from the St. Louis Car Co., had T-H motors and McGuire truck[s].  The old horse cars were used as trailers until 1896.  Four more cars similar to the first seven cars came in 1892.  Were 8-11, also from the St. Louis Car Co.

In 1899 the Danville St. Ry. & Light Co. acquired 17 motor cars, 1-17 and 3 trailers from the predecessor company.  Cars 18 & 19 came new from the St. Louis Car Co. in 1899 and 20-22 in 1900, also from the StLCCo.  Cars 3-9 were renumbered 23-29.  23 & 24 were sold in March, 1902 to the Illinois Valley Traction Co., LaSalle, Ill.  Cars 33 & 34 were also ST closed motor cars, no other information.  In 1901 ten 8-bench open cars, 101-119 odd, were purchased from the Brownell Car Co., St. Louis.  The 1902 census recorded 19 closed and ten open cars, all motor.  However equipment was switched between the open and closed cars every spring and fall.

In 1905 three very old (built 1891) ST closed motor cars were purchased from the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co., Minneapolis, Minn.  Two of them [were] renumbered 122 & 124; not known if the third car was 120 or 126.  A few more open cars were also acquired, small 6-bench cars, 123 was one of them.  The Danville Paxton & Northern Ry. purchased 3 ST closed motor cars, 50-52, from the American Car Co. in 1905.  These were sold to the Danville lines and were renumbered 9-11.  Also in 1905 10 12-bench ST open cars were purchased from the United Rys. of St. Louis.  They were built by the St. Louis Car Co. in 1905 for the St. Louis Transit Co.  Three of these cars 606, 607 & 609 were rebuilt into DT closed cars in 1907 by the Danville Car Co., believed to have been their first order.  The remaining seven cars were renumbered 100-112 even.  The 104 was rebuilt into a DT car.  Also in 1907 3 ST closed motor cars, 708-710, were purchased from the Danville Car Co.  The 1907 census recorded 20 closed cars and 18 open cars.  Six open cars were lost in a carhouse fire on December 19, 1918.

First DT cars were 130 & 131 built in their own shops in 1904.  These two cars were destroyed in the 1918 carhouse fire.  Cars 132 & 133 were built by the American Car Co. in 1905 for the Jacksonville (Ill.) Ry. Co. but were diverted to Danville, never used in Jacksonville.

Thru the years several DT cars which had been used by the ITS out of Danville to Ridge Farm, Batesville and on the Ogden-Homer branch were transferred to Danville city service.  Cars 133 & 134 [134 & 135] were transferred in June, 1914.  They were built by the John Stevenson Co. in 1903.  Car 139 came in December, 1920.  It was built by the St. Louis Car Co. in 1901 for the Lehigh Valley Traction Co.  Purchased by the ITS in September, 1903.  Cars 140-143 came before 1914.  They were built by the St. Louis Car Co. in 1899 for the Third Avenue Ry. Co. in New York.  Acquired by the ITS in June 1902.  These cars were off the roster before 1920.  Cars 143-146 came in June, 1914.  They were the first DT cars used in Danville.  Acquired 2nd hand in 1901 from the Metropolitan Ry. Co., Washington, DC by the DP&N.  The ITS purchased six 2nd hand cars from East St. Louis in March, 1904 Nos. 147-152.  Cars 147, 150, 152 saw city service in Danville but only the 150 was actually transferred.  All out of service in 1926.

Four new DT cars 160-163 were purchased from the St. Louis Car Co., delivered in March, 1918.  In 1920 6 ST closed cars, similar to the 708-710, were transferred to Danville from the Quincy Ry. Co., nos 103-108 which were retained in Danville.  The cars were built by the Danville Car Co. in 1910.  Sixteen ST birneys came from the American Car Co. in November, 1922.

There was a general house cleaning in 1926.  All of [the] remaining obsolete cars (ST open and closed cars) were disposed of.  Four cars, 132-134 & 146 were sent to Peoria in 1928.  As of May 1, 1928 only cars 160-163, 204-219 and 606, 607 & 609 were left.

In August, 1932 cars 160-163 were transferred to the IT for use on their Ridge Farm and Batestown runs.  Batestown was on the Urbana line, suburban service this far.  In their place four similar cars, 800-803, were transferred to Danville from Decatur.  These cars were sent back to Decatur in 1933 for eight ST birneys which were numbered 217 (1st 217 wrecked by a Wabash train on November 19, 1931) and 220-226.  Cars were built by the American Car Co. in 1919.

Utility cars included No. 1, a sweeper and 10 & 113 which were converted into utility cars from city cars of the same numbers.


Nos. Builder Date Length Width Height Seats Weight Motors Trucks Control Notes
09-11 American 574 1905 31'4”         2-WH69 Brill 21E K10 ST closed
Ex-DP&N 50-52; 10 had 2-GE80 motors
15-17 St. Louis 1894 28'0”         2-WH69 Peckham 7B K10 ST closed
18-19 St. Louis 25 1899 28'0”         2-GE54 Peckham 7B K10 ST closed
18 destroyed by fire 12-19-18
20-22 St. Louis 99 1900 30'0”         2-GE54 Peckham 7B K10 ST closed
[According to Lind in From Horsecars to Streamliners, St. Louis jobs 25 and 99 (cars 18-22) were for Danville, VA, not Danville, IL.]
23-24 St. Louis 1891           2- McGuire   ST closed
ex-3,4 sold 3/02 to Illinois Valley Traction Co., LaSalle, Ill.
23-24 Stephenson 1903 28'6”         2- McGuire K10 ST closed
24 destroyed by fire 12-19-18
25-29               2- McGuire   ST closed
33-34               2-     ST closed
No other information
100-112 e St. Louis 245 1902 35'0”     60   2-GE57 Dupont 46 K11 12-bench open
Acquired 1905 from United Rys. Co. of St. Louis; 104 rebuilt to DT with St. Louis 21 trucks
101-119 o Brownell 1901 31'0”     40   2-     8-bench open
Since they switched trucks and motors every year with closed cars, equipment varied.  In 1920 101 had 2-WH69, 107 & 117 2-GE1000 and 119 with 2-GE54.  The others were no longer in service.
103-108 Danville 554 1910 33'6”     30   2-GE88A Curtis 5896 K10 ST closed
Acquired 1920 from Quincy Ry. 103-108
122, 124               2-     ST closed
Believed to have been part of 3 cars acquired 1905 from Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co.  They were Minneapolis St. Ry. Co. 383 LaClede 1891 and 474 Jones 1891; St. Paul City Ry. Co. 354 LaClede 1891.
123                     ST closed
No other information [6-bench open]
130-131 Co. shops 1904                 DT closed
No other information, gone before 1920
132-133 American 606 1905 39'0” 8'3”   40   4-GE1000 Brill 27G K28 DT closed
Transferred to Peoria 1928 132-133
134 Stephenson 1903 39'0”     40   4-GE80 Peckham 14B K10 DT closed
Acquired 6/1914 from ITS, later got Curtis 42[?] trucks, transferred to Peoria 1928
135 Stephenson 1903 39'0”     40   4-GE80 Peckham 14B K10 DT closed
Acquired 6/1914 from ITS, destroyed by fire 12-19-18
139 St. Louis 162 1901 45'7” 9'1” 12'9” 42 61,400 4-GE5[?]A Peckham 14B K11 DT closed
Acquired 12/1920 from ITS which acquired it 9/03 from LVT 194 originally had St. Louis 23A trucks ret. 12/26
140-142 St. Louis 29 1899 43'10” 8'2” 12'2” 44 36,000 4-WH65 Peckham 30 K29 DT closed
Acquired from ITS which acquired them 6/02 from Third Avenue Ry., New York orig. ITS 200-202 out before 1920
143-146 Stephenson 1899 39'0”     40   2-GE80 Brill 27G K10 DT closed
Acquired 6/14 from ITS, orig. DP&N which acquired 1901 from Metropolitan Ry., Washington, DC 723, 725-727
146 to Peoria 146 1928
150 St. Louis   48'3” 8'9” 12'6” 40   4-GE57AH Peckham 14B K14A DT closed
Acquired from ITS which had acquired it 6/1905 from East St. Louis; 147, 152 also used in Danville city service altho ownership was never transferred.  All out of service 1926
160-163 St. Louis 1154 1918 41'0” 8'7” 11'7” 40 38,000 4-GE258C Com 101E K12A DT closed
Transferred 8-20-32 to IT; 161 destroyed 3-28-33 160, 162, 163 renumbered 360, 362, 361 in that order
Transferred 9-22-34 to Peoria, renumbered 365, 367, 366 in that order
204-219 American 1321 1922 28'0” 7'8” 9'9” 32 16,600 2-GE264A Brill 79E1 K10A ST birney
217 wrecked 11-19-31
217, 220-226 American 1197 1919 27'9” 7'8” 9'9” 32 15,400 2-GE258C Brill 78M1 K10 ST birney
Acquired 1933 from Decatur 100-107
606, 607, 609 St. Louis 245 1902 36'0”     40 36,000 2-GE80A St. Louis 21 K28B DT closed
Rebuilt by Danville Car Co. 1907 from 12-bench ST open cars of same numbers
Acquired 1905 from United Rys. of St. Louis 606, 607, 609.  1923- 606 to utility car, 607 rblt to 1-man, 609 sc
708-710 Danville 1907 32'7”     30   2-GE80 Brill 21E K10 ST closed
710 originally number 700
800-803 St. Louis 1018 1913 40'7”     40   2-GE216 St. Louis 99B K36J DT closed
Acquired 1932 from Decatur 800-803, returned to Decatur 1933
1 McG-Cum   28'3” 8'11” 10'9” — 30,000 2-GE57 McG-Cum K11 ST sweeper
10 American 574 1905 30'4”     —   2-GE80 Brill 21E K10 ST utility
Originally city car of same number
113 Brownell 1901 31”2”     —   2-GE54 Peckham 7B K10 ST utility
Originally an open city car of same number


The original street car barn was located on north Vermillion st. near the old horse car barns.  A small storage barn was built on the Soldier's Home line.

In May, 1904 2? acres of land was purchased on south Vermillion st. for a new carhouse and shop.  The building was completed and put in service in May, 1906.  This brick building was 100' x 200' and one story in height.  The building was divided in two parts.  The north section contained a repair shop with two tracks, 140' long.  Each track was served by a pit extending the entire length of the track.  Also in this section was a blacksmith shop and a small machine shop.  The rest of [the] building was used for car storage, washing and inspection purposes.  This section contained five tracks which extended the length of the building.  The building was a joint facility, used by the ITS interurban and suburban cars and the Danville city cars.  The storage tracks could hold 8 interurban cars and 18 city cars.  In addition there was [were] two outside storage tracks on the south side of the carhouse.  The old shop building, which was located a block north of the new carhouse was used as a paint and carpenter shop and for storage.  It could hold six cars.

On December 19, 1918 a fire started in the paint shop.  Spontaneous combustion was blamed.  The estimated loss was $50,000.  Nine street cars (6 open, 18, 24, 135 and an ITS express trailer) raw & finished material and supplies were lost.  It started in a storeroom in the rear of the building and soon spread to adjoining departments.  Three fire departments battled the blaze for five hours before they got it under control.  Not before the entire building was destroyed however.

Street Railway Department Earnings

Year Gross
Taxes Operating
Cars Miles Employees
Cl Op Wk
1916 $219,299 $110,056 $19,200 $90,043 4,372,879 26 13 1 14.87 135
1917 225,864 136,248 14,723 74,893 4,760,062 26 13 1 14.87 161
1918 241,620 165,495 8,651 67,474 4,463,488 25 8 1 14.87 164
1919 283,013 194,779 8,121 80,113 5,787,756 31 8 1 14.87 161
1920 352,884 236,109 17,370 99,405 6,463,332 31 8 1 20.03 157
1921 332,558 231,063 20,210 81,285 5,513,868 31 8 1 20.03 153
1922 311,040 206,719 17,018 87,303 5,160,905 47 8 1 20.03 143

On January 1, 1920 purchased the Danville & Eastern Illinois Ry. Co. 3.5 miles and the Danville & Southeastern Ry. Co. 3 miles.

1st Mortgage Consolidated Bonds 1900 $   652,000
Consolidated & Refunding Debentures 1913   1,170,000
Capital Stock 1,438,000


Today (1985) Danville is doing very well.  Business leaders created a diversified industrial base, protecting the area against the whims of the national economy.  There is no dependency upon only a few industries like it had been in the past.  Over 20 Fortune 500 companies are represented in Vermillion county Danville plants, food processing, electronics, data processing, distribution, warehousing, printing and publishing and many kinds of manufacturing are strong elements in [the] local economy.

The history of industry in the Danville economy is divided into two distinct periods.  The first dating from 1885 until 1925 parallels the era of coal and railroads and comprised industries which chose Vermillion county because of these two factors.  The large quantities of coal available and the extensive railroad network were the determining factors in the rise of a large brick industry beginning in 1900 and the location of a zinc smelting operation in 1905.  Both processes require substantial amounts of fuel and at one time the Hegeler Zinc Co. and the Western Brick Co. maintained their own coal mines.  The downturn in activity and employment in the coal, rail and brick industries in Danville amid the generally prosperous decade of the 1920's indicated that the economic foundations of the city were crumbling.  Whereas from 1900 to 1910 the population had increased 70% (16,000 to 27,000) and from 1910 to 1920 20% (27,000 to 36,000) the increase dropped off to 9% from 1920 to 1930 (33,000 to 36,000).  During the coal era, manufacturing activity in Danville apart from the coal-related industries was confined largely to small firms who produced for local or regional markets.

The city really came back during the war.  The unprecedented economic effort demanded by WWII resulted in large scale construction of defense plants [which] launched the new age of diversified manufacturing in Danville.  Surplus labor conditions in the early 1940's led the Defense Plant Corporation, a wartime government agency, to build a large installation in Danville.  GM operated the plant and stayed.  In the nationwide expansion of manufacturing after the war other companies in search of suitable locations for new plants chose Danville.  The number of plants increased almost three times in the period 1932-1959, nearly doubling in the decade 1944-1954.  Industrial employment increased from 7.3% in 1940 to 24% in 1954.  Population increased 10% from 37,000 in 1940 to 41,000 in 1960.

The former C&EI shops were closed in 1968.  The sprawling 23-acre Oakland facility was once the city's leading industry with a workforce of 1,700.  The Missouri Pacific RR. acquired the C&EI in 1967 with the condition that arrangements for the sale of the line from Woodland Jct. to Evansville to the Louisville & Nashville RR. be worked out.  This was accomplished in 1969.  The L&N had their own shops and this property in Danville was not included in the sale.  The city of Danville purchased the complex and has created an industrial park out if it.  Several firms now occupy the old buildings.

Needless to say the railroad situation in Danville is a far cry from what it used to be.  First to go were the interurban lines of the Illinois Terminal RR.  The Georgetown-Ridge Farm section went on September 30, 1933, Danville-Georgetown on April 26, 1936.  The Catlin line was cut back to Tilton on February 28, 1938.  Danville-Tilton and the IT local cars to Batestown (on the Urbana line) went on July 19, 1939.  They had an interchange with the Wabash near Tilton, 2 miles of track on this branch were kept for this purpose.  This spur was embargoed in April, 1946 when the Vermillion bridge was condemned.  It was torn up in January, 1947.  Their franchise in Danville expired on May 8, 1952.  They had tried to abandon the line in 1942 but were unable to do so because of the war.  Businessmen complained bitterly about the cars laying over on Vermillion st. in downtown Danville but that is where their station and offices were located.  Another source of complaint was the freight trains coming into town on city streets, mostly coal for the powerhouse.  It wasn't long after the war that the passenger service began losing money.  In February, 1950 they petitioned the ICC to discontinue the service.  Hearings began in August, 1951 and the petition was approved.  The last IT passenger trains into Danville ran on April 26, 1952.  The line into Danville was torn up.  Passenger service was cut back to Watkins and freight to the C&EI interchange at DeLong.  On April 26, 1953 passenger service on the line [was] cut back to Champaign.

The Illinois Power Co. built a new connection to the Wabash RR., about 500', at the old carbarn (which was demolished) site.  Mostly coal came in off the Wabash, but occasionally pipe, poles and propane gas also came in via rail.  The Wabash shoved the cars into the switch as far as the end of South Vermillion st. and the electric locomotive of the power company spotted the cars to be unloaded also shoving out the cinder loads.

The PIC's [IPC?] new plant at Newtown began generating power in 1956 but the Danville plant was kept on standby for slightly more than a year but another hitch came along.  The city of Danville was nearly altogether heated by the exhaust steam from the Danville power plant so in order to keep peace all around the last day of steam furnished to the city was on May 31, 1960.  All activity at the plant was brought to an end and the job of tearing down commenced.  The interurban station first, this building also housed the offices of the company and earlier in the year a new building had been completed on N. Voorhees st. on the northwest side of the city.  Then the powerhouse was demolished.  Their locomotive (ex-IT 1566) was sold for scrap to Simon Burstein & Co. at Decatur.

The Milwaukee Road

The NYC-Big Four ran passenger trains between Chicago, Danville, Harrisburg & Cairo.  On 22, 1941 the last train was cut back to Harrisburg.  On May 4, 1957 it was discontinued altogether.

The Peoria & Eastern Ry. discontinued their last Indianapolis-Peoria passenger train on October 14, 1957.

Not many motor cars or doodlebugs were run thru Danville.  The C&EI on May 20, 1937 put two ACF cars on a Danville-Cypress, Ill. run.  These cars were “lemons” and were replaced with standard trains in WWII.  In October, 1955 the road put an RDC1 in service between Chicago & Danville.  This car was taken off the run in 1964 and sold to CNR in August, 1964.

They had a connecting train between Danville & Villa Grove.  This train was discontinued _____________.  Their last passenger train south of Danville, the Hummingbird, came off in January, 1967.  It was OK'd by the ICC in spite of the fact that 175 people showed up at the hearing.  This left only train, #'s 3 & 4 between Chicago & Danville.  The C&EI had been trying to drop all passenger service since 1966.  The MoP didn't have any better luck and then the L&N was stuck with this last train, in spite of repeated attempts they couldn't get it off.  Well on Amtrak day, May 1, 1971 no more train.  Amtrak chose not to run it.  The L&N became part of the Seaboard System in 1984.  This is their main line into Chicago and is busy.

There was a similar situation on the Wabash.  They too had been trying to get rid of their last Detroit-St. Louis train, the CANON BALL.  The N&W took over the road in 1964 and didn't have any better luck.  Again Amtrak chose not to continue the service, last runs made April 30, 1971.  This is the N&W's main line to Kansas City and St. Louis and is a heavily traveled freight line to put it mildly.

On February 1, 1968 the Penn Central took over the NYC, and the business went downhill.  In 1974 they threatened to abandon all their rail lines in Danville.  There really was an uproar over this proposal.  Several heavy industries in town depended upon rail service, GE had a plant, Tee-Pak, Peterson-Puritan, Inc., the GM foundry at Tilton and a bunch of elevators all needed rail service.  PC became part of Conrail in 1976.  Even tho Conrail has torn up endless miles of track, all these lines are still in service.  However, the old P&E line doesn't have a bright future.  Just one daily train.

The Milwaukee Road embargoed their line in 1978.  [They] obtained trackage rights over Conrail.  There were four large elevators on it and these people wanted rail service.  A short line, the Kankakee Beaverville & Southern Ry. purchased 57 miles of it between Danville & Donovan in November, 1981.  They furnish service “as needed”.

By James J. Buckley

130-131 Danville Shops 1904  
132-133 American 606 1905  
134-135 Stephenson 1903  
136-137 American 1903  
138-139 St. Louis 162 1899 Acq. 9-30-03 LVT 189, 194
140-142 St. Louis 20 1899 Acq. 6/02?
Ex-Third Ave. Ry., Metropolitan Ry. orig. 200-202
143-146 Stephenson 1899 Acq. '01 by DP&N
Ex-Metropolitan Ry. (Wash., DC) 723, 725-7
147-152 St. Louis 51 1899  
Ex-East St. Louis Electric RR. 1-6??
160-163 St. Louis 1154 1917  
'32 to IT 360-363 363 lost in carhouse fire
'34 to Peoria 365-7
200-203 St. Louis 438 1904  
800-803 St. Louis 1018 1913 Ex-Decatur 800-803
Sent back to Decatur

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A Danville Streetcar Album