From Farm to City

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The first Class C locomotives debuted in 1924.

Traction Provides New Markets for Farmers and Rural Communities

The Illinois Traction System was not merely a passenger train. In 1903, the system began offering freight transport, linking farmers with markets, mail with residents, and goods with consumers.

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Initially, parcels and produce were added to the front of passenger cars, but as passenger demand grew, the company turned to dedicated trainsets. The Illinois Traction Decatur Car Shops turned out new express motorcars to keep up with demand. 

Although no one could have foreseen it in 1903, the freight service eventually provided much-needed revenue during the darkest years of the Great Depression. In so doing it rescued the rail service from financial losses due to declining ticket sales.