The Oil Belt Railway of Illinois

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The Oil Belt Railway of Illinois

Postby PD&EBuff » Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:52 pm

I’ve wondered about this line since discovering it on a railroad atlas quite a few years ago. I thought I would pass the following along. Almost all of it comes from an article in the October, 1956 Illinois Central Magazine. It was a story by a retired agent at Oblong, Illinois named Roy Dalrymple. For some reason the magazine had trouble understanding that Hardinville didn’t have an “s” in it. So with that obvious error, take the rest for what it is worth. Still, I thought some of you might find the following interesting.

The line was organized on May 29th, 1909 by business men in and around Oblong. Originally they issued $400,000 in common stock and had a survey made from Bridgeport, through Oblong, to Charleston – all in Illinois. Work was begun at Oblong using second hand rail bought in Chicago in 1909, reaching about 10 miles south the following year.

At that time the Oil Belt had an old IC locomotive, a single box car, and a lone flat car. Using their entire rolling stock fleet, they made an inaugural run one Sunday in 1910 from Oblong to Hardinville charging over a hundred passengers fifty cents each for the trip. Unfortunately this was as far as they could go, as the original funds had been expended. Completion of the line to Bridgeport required several hundred thousands in bonds to be issued. The line never made it one inch north of Oblong.

By 1917 the locomotive was beyond repair. At this point, they scraped up enough money for a down payment on a self propelled gasoline powered combined coach and baggage car. Unfortunately the Oil Belt missed its next payment on the car. And after failure to return it to its owner, a representative from the company was forced to come onsite and steal it back in the middle of the night. With no motive power left, this was the end of the Oil Belt Railway of Illinois. The rails ended up on the MKT and rest was sold to a scrap dealer in Bridgeport.
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Re: The Oil Belt Railway of Illinois

Postby jrhambone » Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:37 pm

I just returned (1/15/09) from a Bridgeport, IL, library hunting for Oil Belt photos and stories. I've been searching for materials on the Oil Belt Railroad for a few years, and believe that it did finally reach Bridgeport. While the Oil Belt was short lived, it suffered from the usual--lack of adaquate funds plus improved roads and trucks. Plans were to eventually build from Evansville, Indiana, to Charleston, Illinois. The initial purpose was to serve the oil fields north of Bridgeport where oil was discovered in about 1908 (I think). The segment between Oblong and Bridgeport was the only part of the Oil Belt ever constructed. Locals around Bridgeport can still point out parts of the right-of-way grade (and maybe an abutment or two).
If you have further information, please contact me...jrhambone@hotmail.com
John Hamilton
jrhambone
 

Re: The Oil Belt Railway of Illinois

Postby PD&EBuff » Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:03 am

I have just acquired a document that expands upon the list of stations for the line. The numbers represent mileage, obviously rounded, and the asterisks, stations without an agent. These are as of August 1st, 1913

Oblong - 0
*Ohio Tank - 2
*Livesey Crossing - 3
Willard - 5
*Prier’s Crossing - 6
*Pato Crossing - 7
Hardinsville - 8 (Apparently there was an “s” in Hardinsville in those days)
*Shipman’s Crossing - 10
*Wolf Park - 11
Cranston - 12
*Prairie Flower - 14
Applegate - 18
*Muddy Creek - 20
Petrolia - 21
Bridgeport - 25
Lawrenceville Jct - 29 (Branch line under construction)
Lawrenceville - 30 (Branch line under construction)

Thomas French
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Re: The Oil Belt Railway of Illinois

Postby PD&EBuff » Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:08 am

Sorry, I left out the asterisk before Lawrenceville Jct
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Re: The Oil Belt Railway of Illinois

Postby Dave2011 » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:42 am

Hello,
I am working with the Lawrence County Historical society researching documents relating to the Oil Belt Railway. I am looking to obtain a scan or actual copy of the IL Central Magazine, Oct 1956 which contains the story mentioned in this previous posting. If anyone knows where I can obtain a copy or scan image please reply to this post or contact me at: countryc@avenuebroadband.com.

Thanks,
Dave
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Re: The Oil Belt Railway of Illinois

Postby PD&EBuff » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:14 am

Good to hear that you found a copy.

Thomas
French
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