Waterloo RR

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by Mark Godwin

In East St. Louis Remembered, I inadvertently forgot about the interurban street car system that linked the city of East St. Louis with the rural communities of Columbia and Waterloo. As interurbans go, this line was a late starter. The Waterloo Road. As it was known, was not incorporated until 1906. While construction was started that year, cars did not begin to run between East St. Louis and Dupo until May of 1912. Construction of the line from Dupo to Columbia and Waterloo was not completed until December of that same year.

138-carbarn.tif (35121 bytes) The general offices were located at 19th and Bond; the dispatcher's office was housed in a bay window in the car barn.

The 22 mile electric line ran on private right of way following the Iron Mountain Line to Dupo, then going southeast and following the Mississippi & Ohio Railroad to Waterloo.

The original terminus of the line in East St. Louis was at 19th and Bond. Later the line operated on an additional three miles of trackage rights on the East St. Louis and Suburban street car line to gain access to downtown East St. Louis and the Eads Bridge. It ran west on Bond, then north on 15th Street. went left (west) on Broadway to the Suburban's terminal on Broadway and Collinsville Avenue.

Passenger trains negotiated the 22 mile trip from East St. Louis to Waterloo in an hour and ten minutes, averaging a relaxing 21 miles per hour. Passenger cars ran every ninety minutes with fourteen trains a day. The Waterloo Road provided merchandise express and parcel service. It also hauled freight cars for online customers and connecting steam railroads. In addition to the line's 138-streetcar.tif (25834 bytes)

original passenger equipment, which resembled the typical street car design of the time, around 1918 the line acquired three larger interurban cars built by the American Car Company for the Alton, Jacksonville and Peoria. These cars were never delivered as that line went out of business on the eve of World War I.

The freight business received a boost in 1920 when oil was discovered along the line. The ownership of the line eventually passed into the hands of the Lemp family in St. Louis who ran one of the largest breweries in the world, located near Broadway and Cherokee Streets in south St. Louis.

138-transfer.tif (54842 bytes) Peak earnings for passenger service was in 1923. After the highways were paved around 1925 and Route 3 was constructed, the passenger business fell off considerably. In 1929 competition in the form of the St. Louis Bus and Chester Motor Bus Line started. Passenger service was discontinued entirely in 1932 . Although this stemmed the flow of red ink for a while, the revenue from the freight could not recover the costs. Freight operations survived until 1936. The tracks were removed in 1937.

Charles Lemp neglected his brewery business after Prohibition and it did not survive. With both the brewery and his railroad gone. He concentrated on his banking and insurance career. He committed suicide in 1949. Tradition says his ghost haunts the Lemp Mansion.




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