Illinois Central Monday Morning Rail
By Mike Stella
I started buying Lionel as an adult in 1970. A new beginning for me having modeled in HO since the early 1960’s. It was also a new beginning for Lionel having been taken over by General Mills and folded into their Model Products Corporation (MPC).
The first catalog folded out into a wall poster and contained a number of sets and one that never saw production, the Illinois Central hauled by a very pretty GP9.
We would have to wait a year before it actually was produced but the wait was worth it. A great set, it was cataloged again in 1972 with a large amount of track and a 90 watt transformer that was the old post war 1044.
The 1972 Illinois Central set came with six freight cars. In 1971 Lionel started a program whereby they created a Service Station Special set and the Illinois Central GP9 was the first locomotive used to pull this special set. It contained FIVE different boxcars from the “Famous Name” series, and a matching caboose.
The set came without a transformer but did include “O” gauge track! Years ago in a weak moment, I sold a new boxed 1971 SSS that I would love to have back. The 1971 SSS pulls FIVE boxcars.
Not well known at all is the Cable Hydrospace set that was custom produced in the early 1970’s by a small company in San Diego. I have set #1 of the 25 projected sets produced. This set utilized the Illinois Central GP9 along with the dummy and the dummy HAD A HORN! This was the first Lionel GP to have a horn.
Lionel began a great policy of producing a dummy unit to match all the early GPs and the Illinois Central was no exception. This final picture shows my three different Illinois Central sets and the dummy unit too.
I am glad I started collecting early Lionel MPC when it was first starting out. There are many sets and individual pieces that are great looking and still available at remarkably LOW LOW prices.
The first train featured in this article was purchased in February, 2008!
Happy Collecting to all and try running those trains you’ve had in boxes for years.