The IC's Green Diamond streamlined passenger train in 1936.

Illinois Central's original train "The Green Diamond" which went into service between Chicago and St. Louis in 1936.

The consist included a combine baggage-mail car, four coaches, dining car, and observation parlor car.

(Top Image: ["The Green Diamond"]photograph1936~; ( March 6, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)


Green Diamond drumhead.


The Green Diamond was a streamlined passenger train operated by the Illinois Central Railroad (IC) between Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. It operated from 1936 until 1968. It was the Illinois Central's first streamliner. Initially it operated with Illinois Central 121, the last of the 1930s fixed-consist articulated streamliners built in the United States.

After 1947, the Green Diamond operated with more conventional streamlined equipment until its discontinuance. The name honored the "green diamond" in the Illinois Central's logo as well as the Diamond Special, the Illinois Central's oldest train on the Chicago-St. Louis run.


The Green Diamond first ran in regular service on May 17, 1936. It was the Illinois Central's first streamlined passenger train and proved popular with the traveling public to the point that demand outstripped the streamliner's fixed capacity.

The Green Diamond covered the 294 miles (473 km) from Chicago to St. Louis in 4 hours 55 minutes, averaging 59 miles per hour (95 km/h).  The Green Diamond required a single consist to operate, departing Chicago for St. Louis in the morning and returning that same evening.  The name honored the "green diamond" in the Illinois Central's logo as well as the Diamond Special, the Illinois Central's oldest train on the Chicago-St. Louis run. 

Conventional equipment with expanded seating capacity replaced the articulated streamliner in 1947.

After the discontinuance of the Daylight and Night Diamond on October 27, 1958, the Green Diamond became the Illinois Central's last train between Chicago and St. Louis and its departure from St. Louis moved up to mid-afternoon.

On May 20, 1968 the Illinois Central truncated the train's route to Springfield, Illinois and renamed it the Governor's Special, a name which, if nothing else, suited the new terminus. The Green Diamond had operated just over 32 years.

Amtrak did not continue the Governor's Special, which ended revenue service on April 30, 1971.  However, Amtrak has provided Lincoln Service between Chicago and St Louis along a different route, as well as operating the Texas Eagle on a longer route since the 1980s.


Pullman-Standard constructed the Green Diamond's original fixed consist, which included a power car, baggage/mail car, coach, coach-dinette, and kitchen-dinette-parlor-observation car. The cars were numbered 121-125.

The coach seated 56, while the coach-dinette seated 44 in the coach section and the dinette area had seating for 16.  The parlor car had seating for 22. It was the last fixed-consist train built in the 1930s for a railroad in the United States.

The equipment was painted in a "bright two-tone green paint scheme."  Motive power was provided by 1,200 hp (890 kW) EMC Winton 201-A 16-cylinder engine. A second generator within the power car provided electricity for the lights, while a separate steam generator heated the train.  The train's interior was art deco, as was popular in the period.

In 1947 the Illinois Central replaced this trainset with a set of conventional cars. The four coaches came new from Pullman-Standard, while the remainder the Illinois Central rebuilt from heavyweight cars in its own shops:

IC No. 2531 "Springfield" (56-seat coach)
IC No. 2632 "Litchfield" (56-seat coach)
IC No. 2633 "Clinton" (56-seat coach)
IC No. 2636 "Kankakee" (56-seat coach)
IC No. 3335 "Grant Park" (crew-tavern-coach)
IC No. 4109 "Auguste Chouteau" (36-seat dining car)
IC No. 3325 "Pierre Laclede" (parlor-tavern-lounge car)
IC No. 3310 "Mark Beaubien" (parlor-observation car)
Additional rebuilt baggage, baggage-dormitory, and mail/express cars were added to the Green Diamond's equipment pool in 1947-1948. The original articulated consist was reassigned first to the Daylight and then the Miss Lou.

Service cutbacks in 1967 led to the removal of the parlor-observation car and the replacement of the dining car by a cafe-lounge. In June 1968, service between Springfield and St. Louis was discontinued and the remaining segment of the former Green Diamond was renamed the Governor's Special. As the Governor's Special the typical consist was a cafe/bar coach and two other coaches.


The Green Diamond in color.

(Illinois Central Railway, W. Lenheim Collection)



First service: May 17, 1936
Last service: May 19, 1968
Successor: Governor's Special
Former operator: Illinois Central Railroad
Route Termini: Chicago, Illinois / St. Louis, Missouri
Stops: 7 (Since 1938)
Distance traveled: 294.2 miles (473.5 km)
Average journey time: 4 hours 55 minutes
Train number(s): 51 (Chicago - St. Louis), 50 (St. Louis - Chicago)
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speed: 59.8 mph (96.2 km/h) (average)
IC suburban and South Shore Line
0 - Chicago

IC intercity and suburban trains
6.5 mi / 10.5 km - 63rd Street, Woodlawn
13.1 mi / 21.1 km - Kankakee connections to City of New Orleans/Panama LimitedSeminole, and City of Miami to New Orleans, Jacksonville, and Miami
108.5 mi / 174.6 km - Gibson City
147.1 mi / 236.7 km - Clinton
191.8 mi / 308.7 km - Springfield
237.0 mi / 81.4 km - Lichfield (flag stop)
290.8 mi / 468 km - East St. Louis
294.2 mi / 473.5 km - St. Louis


The observation-lounge car on the IC's Green Diamond in 1936.

The observation end of the lounge car on the streamlined Green Diamond, August 31, 1936.

(Photo: Fox, for Illinois Central Railroad, Public Domain, W. Lenheim Collection.)


The Green Diamond at Kankakee in 1964.
Green Diamond cars being switched in 1966.

The Illinois Central's Green Diamond at Kankakee, Illinois. The train is led by EMD E8 No. 4026, August 1964. (Image: Lawrence and David Barera, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

IC GP9 road switcher 9190 with two coaches waiting to be added to Train 22, The Green Diamond, at Springfield, Illinois on May 5, 1966. The Green Diamond locomotive is not pictured. (Image: Photo by Roger Puta, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Illinois Central's modern streamliner "The Green Diamond" train No. 21, southbound, leaving Chicago enroute to St. Louis, 1955. Click to enlarge.

["The Green Diamond" leaving Chicago]photograph1955~; ( March 23, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.