The pictures and text were provided by Albin Johnson, former Minonk resident
with additional information provided by Jari Lynn Oncken and Donna Eilts.
Santa Fe "doodle bug"
The Santa Fe "doodle bug" was a one-car train that ran between Pekin and Chicago
each day. It carried passengers in addition to picking up mail and small freight.
According to a Peoria Journal Star article in 1954 it took 5 hours for it to travel the 154 miles. It made around 35 stops. The train
even carried livestock including live chickens, hogs, sheep and even a pony or two.
The train could carry 30 passengers and could achieve a speed of 65 mph.
It made its last run on January 29, 1955. Some of the Minonk residents on that last ride
were Mrs. Harriet Webster, and Betty and Jimmy Timmerman (Jess).
Click here to download the above picture.
The Doodlebug Train - by Albin Johnson
While attending a class reunion in 1998, I drove to Minonk where I grew up during the 1930's and 40's. So much of the town had changed! Main Street was missing the grain elevators and many old store facades. But, the biggest shock was the absence of depots and the R.R. tracks. I grew up living next to the Santa Fe depot and spent much time with stationmaster Stevenson and R.R. Express Agent Ollie Schneider.
I started to wonder about the train and its demise. I started researching and several letters later I received information and pictures that helped me remember.
This rail spur line (Santa Fe) was built by the Chicago, Pekin & Southwestern Co. in 1886. It was crossed in town by an Illinois Central spur running from Kankakee south.
Santa Fe ran a steam passenger train for several years. In the early 1930's an interurban rail car was used. We called it the "Dinky". The train car made daily trips from Pekin, leaving at 7:00 A.M., stopping in Minonk at 8:42 A.M. on its way to Ancona Jct. and Dearborn Station in Chicago, arriving at 12:10 P.M. The return trip arrived in Minonk at 4:16 P.M. This passenger service ceased around 1956. The train used numbers 13 and 14 while earlier trains were numbered 12 and 13.
The actual car was 80 feet long and was built by EMC/Pullman in 1931. (EMC stood for Electro-Motive Car) The track was 159.6 miles long. The picture shows an identical car consisting of a cab, baggage area and seating for about 28 people. The depot appears, as it was in 1937 complete with the author and Bill Kuhne shooting marbles.