The New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern was a 206-mile (332 km) 5 ft (1,524 mm) gauge  railway originally commissioned by the State of Illinois, with both Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln being among its supporters in the 1851 Illinois Legislature. It connected Canton, Mississippi, with New Orleans and was completed just prior to the American Civil War, in which it served strategic interests, especially for the Confederacy. The New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern was largely in ruins by the end of the War.  From 1866 to 1870, when a hostile takeover induced a change of leadership, the president of the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern was P. G. T. Beauregard (1818-1893), former Confederate States Army general under whose command the first shots had been fired on Fort Sumter and who during the war helped design the Confederate battle flag. 
Restored as part of the Mississippi Central Railroad (1852-1874), the properties originally belonging to the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern became, in 1878, organic with the Illinois Central Railroad, which billed itself as the "Main Line of Mid-America" and in 1967 became the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad.
In 1998 the Illinois Central Railroad merged into the Canadian National Railway system. The original rights-of-way for the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern not only serve the purpose of a major freight railway but also support Amtrak passenger service.
- Confederate Railroads - New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern
- Estaville Jr., Lawrence E. (Spring 1973). "A strategic railroad: The New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern in the Civil War". Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association. 14 (2): 117–136. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- Hattaway, Herman M.; Taylor, Michael J. C. (1998). Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard. Leaders of the American Civil War: A Biographical and Historiographical Dictionary, edited by Charles F. Ritter & Jon L. Wakelyn. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 27. ISBN 0-313-29560-3. Williams, T. Harry (1955). P.G.T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. pp. 273–286. ISBN 0-8071-1974-1.