RAILROADS: Mid-America's Main Line

At 11 o'clock one bitter cold morning in Chicago last week, a deafening din arose from the Illinois Central Railroad's yards. Whistles shrieked, bells clanged, diesel engines blatted their air horns like dying cows. From a smoke-grimed overpass, Illinois' Governor Adlai E. Stevenson, who had set off the bedlam by tugging the rope of an old dismantled locomotive bell, cried gleefully: "There are a hundred trains here, and I bet every one of them is late!" Just as gleefully, Illinois Central's President Wayne Johnston cried back: "I'll bet they are, too!"

For...