As railroads became vital to community development in the late 19th century, Pawnee farmers and businessmen took the unusual step of financing and building their own rail link.
The line originally ran west from Pawnee to connect to the north-south St. Louis and Chicago Railroad. Work began in late 1888, and the first train ran on Aug. 8, 1889 to what became known as the Pawnee Junction at Glenarm. The road was extended to Auburn, connecting to the Chicago and Alton Railroad, in 1891.
The Pawnee Railroad was purchased in 1903 by the Illinois Midland Coal Co., which forced the line into bankruptcy the next year. The railroad then was sold for nearly $50,000 in 1905 to the Chicago Edison Co., which provided electricity to Chicago, and the Illinois Midland Coal Co. and was used to transport coal from central Illinois to power plants in Chicago. The line also was extended eastward to Taylorville.
The Pawnee Railroad’s name also was changed in 1905, to the Chicago & Illinois Midland Railway Co. , reflecting its corporate parents.
The C&IM, though itself renamed the Illinois & Midland, remained in operation in 2013.
More information: Pawnee village history
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