Alton & Southern Railway
The Alton and Southern Railway
(reporting marks, ALS) is a historic shortline terminal/switching operation based in East St.
Louis, Illinois and is currently owned by the Union Pacific. The little
railroad has a unique and interesting history to say the least, which
dates back to the early 20th century when it was originally constructed
by a private aluminum manufacturer.
For those rail historian aficionados out there you may notice the
railroad’s emblem looks oddly familiar, this is because it is a hybrid
of that of its former owners, the Missouri Pacific and Chicago &
North Western. Furthermore the railroad’s paint scheme is a blend of
both the MoPac and North Western and interestingly the UP continues to
hold to tradition, allowing motive power to still to be adorned in the
fascinating livery. Today, the A&S, while owned by the UP is
actually an independently operated terminal line that dispatches dozens
of train daily around busy St. Louis.
The history of the Alton and Southern Railway dates back to the first
decade of the 20th century when the Aluminum Company of East St. Louis
(a predecessor to the Aluminum Company Of America better known as Alcoa)
became frustrated with the shipping and switching services it was being
provided by the Southern Railway system. So, to fix this problem the company simply created its own railroad, incorporating the Alton & Southern Railroad Company
in 1910. Located on the Illinois-side of the city in a community known
as Alorton, the aluminum plant constructed the railroad to a connection
with the St. Louis & Belleville Electric Railway located to the
east, which would provide it with direct interchange to bypass the
Southern. The StL&BE was a subsidiary of interurban East St. Louis
& Subruban Railway and mostly provided freight service to the locale area.
In late 1910 after the A&S had completed its initial main line the Aluminum Company chartered the Denverside Connecting Railway on November 23rd to construct about a five mile line to the east where it could connect with the Illinois Central at Fox Junction to both increase its interchange partners as well as allow for increased shipments of bauxite to the plant. A year later it incorporated a third railroad, the Alton & Southern Railway on November 1, 1911, which was meant to provide a northern connection to the St. Louis & O’Fallon Railway at an interchange located near what is today St. Clair Avenue. To better streamline operations the Aluminum Company the Alton & Southern Railroad in the summer of 1913 to manage and oversee all three smaller lines.
In the coming years the little A&S became quite a terminal
operation around East St. Louis. As it continued to head northward it
gained connections to other systems like the Chicago, Peoria & St.
Louis Railroad (later part of the Chicago & North Western system)
and Springfield & Peoria Railroad (another C&NW predecessor).
In 1925 it reached its northern terminus at Mitchell, Illinois some 20
miles north of the plant at Alorton. Here the railroad gained new
connections with the Wabash Railroad and Chicago & Eastern Illinois. In the mid-1960s then-Alcoa decided to sell the Alton and Southern Railway
after it closed its plant at Alorton.
Interestingly, just a few years
before this the A&S had completed a major infrastructure project,
Gateway Yard, which included a fully operational hump facility. In
1968 the railroad was split between the Missouri Pacific and Chicago
& North Western, thus giving the A&S it's now classic logo. In
the early 1970s Southern Pacific subsidiary St. Louis Southwestern
Railway purchased the C&NW's ownership of the terminal line and
remained owner until Union Pacific's purchase of the MP in 1982, and
later the SP in 1996. Currently, most of the Alton & Southern's motive power
consists of switchers although it does roster two road-switchers,
GP38-2s. In any event, their entire fleet is currently EMD products.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
Steam Locomotive Roster
|2, 10, 13, 15, 16, 18, 26||Mikado||2-8-2|
|6, 9, 12||Switcher||0-8-0|
While the Alton and Southern Railway today still has numerous
interchange partners at one point it had many, many more. For instance,
before the mega-merger movement it interchanged traffic with the
Baltimore & Ohio, C&EI, C&NW, CB&Q, GM&O, Illinois Central,
Illinois Terminal, Louisville & Nashville, Manufacturers Railway,
Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy), MP, Norfolk & Western, Pennsylvania
Railroad, New York Central, St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco), SSW,
Southern, and finally the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis.
For more information about the Alton and Southern Railway please click here to visit their website.
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Alton & Southern