The “Mike and Ike”
The Missouri — Illinois Railroad was a small railway line with about 200 miles of track in the bi-state, and was formed in 1929 as a subsidiary of The Missouri Pacific Line. The Illinois section went from Salem, Illinois to Chester and carried passengers until about 1950. It was known by locals as the “Mike and Ike” and traveled the route twice a day, stopping in Central City and Centralia twenty-seven minutes after leaving Salem. The train continued on southwest through Nashville and sometimes had to stop in Coulterville to wait for an Illinois Central train — for a period “not exceeding fifteen minutes” before proceeding on to Sparta where the railroad had a roundhouse. The tracks went on through Walsh, Roots, and Kellogg where they took on freight only. The train passed through Collins and Reily Lake before perhaps the most exciting part of the journey. Near Chester, there was no railroad bridge across the river. The railroad owned a steamboat and the train was ferried across on tracks that traversed the deck. It must have been an exciting trip considering the weight of a fully loaded locomotive and train cars floating over the Mississippi to Missouri.
The Mike and Ike gradually dropped its passenger service and carried freight only until being absorbed back into the Missouri Pacific system in 1978.