The Missouri-Illinois car ferry "Ste. Genevieve" in action.

(Library of Congress, Public domain, via W. Lenheim Collection)


MoPac red buzzsaw logo.


The Missouri–Illinois Railroad was a railroad that operated in Missouri and Illinois. It was nicknamed the "Mike and Ike". The railroad operated around 200 miles (320 km) of track on both sides of the Mississippi River, connected by a train ferry. It began operations in 1921, and was owned by the Missouri Pacific Railroad and operated as a subsidiary railroad until it was merged into the Missouri Pacific in 1978.

The Missouri-Illinois early on was touted as the "Lead Belt" as it ran through the largest concentration of lead deposits in the world. The Missouri-Illinois Railroad dieselized early and sent all steam locomotives to the scrapyard in 1950. The company ran it's car float operation across the Mississippi River until 1961.

In 1970 it reported 359 million net ton-miles of revenue freight and zero passengers on 333 miles of road operated (138 miles owned).



The Missouri-Illinois was originally formed in 1921 out of the bankrupt Illinois Southern (itself the consolidation of the old Illinois Southern and the Southern Missouri Railway - both created in 1900 to build a route from Mississippi to Kansas City) The Illinois Southern suffered a major disaster when it's steamship ferry sank in 1920, literally taking half of the railroad with it, thus forcing the railroad out of business. This foreclosure brought about the creation of the M-I, which took over the line.

The Mississippi River & Bonne Terre Railroad (MR&BT) was the primary subsidiary of the M-I. Formed on May 11, 1888 and spreading from Bonne Terre northward to Riverside, Missouri and connecting to the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern, the MR&BT road operated over 66 miles of rail at it's peak. It's primary resource was the wealthy mineral stronghold of southeastern Missouri. The Missouri Pacific acquired a controlling interest in both the M-I and the MR&BT on July 1st, 1929. These two shortlines were then consolidated and the Missouri-Illinois ran as a subsidiary.