The Railroads of Will County
The Illinois Central was chartered as one of the first land-grant railroads in the United States. The original route ran from Galena to Cairo. The Chicago Branch of the Illinois Central Railroad was completed from Chicago to Centralia in 1853, passing through Monee, Will and Peotone townships, with stations located in the Will County communities of Monee and Peotone. This line ultimately became a busy through route for both freight and passenger service between Chicago and St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans.
Amtrak took over the intercity passenger service on this line on May 1, 1971. The Illinois Central merged with the parallel Gulf, Mobile & Ohio on August 10, 1972 to form the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad. (See our section on the Chicago & Alton for the history of this line.) Over the next two decades, the holding company concentrated more on their non-railroad assets and the ICG declined, selling off several routes.
In 1988 the parent company IC Industries spun off its remaining rail assets and the railroad reorganized itself as a second Illinois Central Railroad and quickly rebounded to become a successful railroad. An expanding Canadian National Railway acquired the Illinois Central in 1998.
Today, Metra's Electric Line provides commuter train service between University Park and Chicago Amtrak operates daily service on this route and CN provides freight service.