Sometime in the early 1960s my father, Dr. Richard D. Leonard, was privileged to take a cab ride from Bloomington to Chicago in the lead unit of the Abraham Lincoln. With today's corporate anxiety about liability and security issues, few people would be able to get a ride in the cab of a locomotive in revenue service. In the 1960s things were more flexible, especially if you knew the right people. How Dad arranged for this ride is unknown to us (he passed away in 1976), but he had come to know a number of active GM&O personnel through his association with the Central Illinois Railroad Club, of which he was the founding president (and one of three who signed the incorporation papers for what eventually became the Monticello Railway Museum). A lifelong railroad fan, a hobby he passed along to both me and my brother, he was Professor of History at Illinois Wesleyan University and a Methodist minister.

Judging from lack of foliage and sun angles, the trip took place in wintertime (there are a few patches of snow), but late fall or early spring are also possibilities. We see double track on the main line, indicating that this trip occurred before installation of Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) in 1964, which allowed removal of one of the main tracks. (Thanks to viewer Everett Lueck for this information.)

Either Dad or someone traveling with him took 35mm photos documenting the trip, which only came to light in 2005. The photos, shot through the windshield of the E7 unit, are not of the best quality but I have done what I could to render them viewable. Click on the selections below to bring up the images, with commentary, or page through the images sequentially.