Thursday, June 4, 2020

Old Steam Engine No. 1314's Last Run

Pictured: Hotel and Railroad Station in Bunker Hill, IL

From the Gazette-News: March 10, 1956

Steam Railroad Engine Makes Last Run on "Old Line" Through Bethalto and Bunker Hill    

Starting Monday, things aren't going to be the same at Litchfield, Bunker Hill, Bethalto, and other communities located along the route of the New York Central Railroad's "Old Line", which extends from East Alton to Hillsboro.

    Every other morning, a New York Central local freight train has pulled out of East Alton, drawn by a steam locomotive, has wended its way to Hillsboro, where it stayed overnight, then wended its way back to East Alton the following day, still drawn by the steam locomotive.

Pictured: Lee (front) and Arthur (rear) Sutton doing the Mail Run in Bunker Hill.  Read more about Lee and Arthur on our blog at

    Saturday, the old steam job, known as No. 1314, turned in its last days work.  In addition to drawing along its usual compliments of freight cars, No. 1314 also pulled a neat and compact diesel engine, which will pull the freight train back to East Alton Monday.

    In the words of Glen Wells of Hillsboro, engineer of the local freight, which plies between East Alton and Hillsboro, "Old 1314, is no more."  "The engine," he said, "was slated to be hauled back east."  Presumably judging by the dour look on Well's face when he utters the phrase "hauled back east" No. 1314 will be relegated to the scrap heap.

Pictured: Elevator just west, beyond Bunker Hill Depot

    Wells has been a railroader for 38  years and says he is inclined to learn a little on the respect one is assumed to have for tradition and precedent.

    Joe Gray, of Butler, IL, the engine's fireman, however, is a mere stripling as railroaders go, having but 14 years experience.  To Gray, the whole thing is exactly as it should be.

Pictured: The Bunker Hill Depot (circa 1939)

    "They'll have atomic-powered engine before they are through, " Gray says.  "That diesel out there will be an antique in 20 years.  They have ball-bearing freight cars already and they can be pushed along by six men.  A hundred miles per hour won't be anything in a few years."

    A.S. Reed, of Hillsboro, the conductor, declared that the diesel doesn't even "whistle right".  Reed has been a railroader for 30 years.

Pictured: The Big Four Depot in Bunker Hill, IL

    The diesel, however, will be the standard equipment for the local run.  It started this morning when it left Hillsboro for the return trip to East Alton.

...Read this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, June 4, 2020.

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