Bituminous coal represented the largest volume item for the C&EI,
constituting about one-third of all C&EI traffic. Coal was the primary
traffic in the Westville, Salem and Mt. Vernon areas of Illinois and the
Clinton and Terre Haute areas of Indiana. A major portion of the coal
generated by mines on the C&EI was destined for Chicago or the barge
loading facility at Joppa, Illinois. So much coal was destined for the
Chicago region steel mills that, for many years, the Elgin Joliet and
Eastern (EJ&E) paid the C&EI for trackage rights to move their
trains over the C&EI between its company-owned rails in the Chicago
area and the coal mines located at Sidell and Westville on the C&EI.
Because C&EI rails connected with the rails of many other railroad
companies, the C&EI moved a large volume of traffic that was neither
generated on, nor destined for industries served by the C&EI. Rather,
the C&EI acted as a bridge between these many connections with cars
moving between railroads over the C&EI. Thus, for example, the C&EI
might help move automobiles produced in Detroit to dealers located beyond
Illinois, an series of interchanges that might involve several railroads.
bridge traffic was a major source of revenue for the C&EI. More than
half of all freight was for interchange, primarily the Louisville and
Nashville in Evansville, the Missouri Pacific and western carriers in
St. Louis, the Wabash in Danville and numerous carriers in the Chicago
area through the Belt Yard and other connections. The IC, NYC, NKP, and
PRR were major connections away from the larger cities.