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Don's Rail Photos

Lee County Central Electric Ry.

In 1901, the Northern Illinois Electric Ry. was formed to build a network of electric railways centering on Amboy. The first line was to run from Amboy to DeKalb. It was until October 1, 1910, that the first run was made from Amboy to Lee Center, about 11 1/2 miles, using car 1 which it was believed came second hand from Chicago Union Traction Co. A second car, interurban 10, came in 1911 and was probably built by American Car & Foundry for the Louisville & New Albany until they were replaced by wide gauge cars. Freight was handled by a steam locomotive, 5, built by Rogers in March, 1887. It was the last of several which were used over the years. Power was so poor, it was said, that 10 had a hard time making over the road, and it was impossible to handle freight by electricity. In 1912, an additional 7 miles brought the road to Middlebury. In 1913 the line went into bankruptcy and emerged in 1914 as the LCCERy. Passenger service ended in 1915, and the wires came down in 1916. It was the first interurban to abandon service. Freight continued to be handled for the elevators on the line. In the late 1920s, steam was replaced by a gas locomotive. In the 1930s, the line continued to deteriorate, and the line east of Lee Center was abandoned. If these pictures taken in 1935 are any indication, it can be seen that little improvement was ever made. In 1946 the Lee County Grain Association purchased the line, and it was still operating until 1972. Thus, a line which should never have been, lasted longer than the more successful interurbans like the North Shore, the Roaring Elgin, TM, Pacific Electric, etc.

The locomotive in the shed was probably a 15 ton Whitcomb G/M, #12146, which was Louisville Gas & Electric Co. 2 until LCCE bought it in 1931. It was later scrapped.

The next locomotive I have a record of was an 18 ton Plymouth JLB built in March, 1942, #4374. It came from Central Soya Co., who got it from Pusey & Jones Corp.

The locomotive in the photo below is a 20 ton Plymouth JHG built in December, 1949, #5502. It came from Case Brothers Co. in 1970.


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