Chicagoland

Anything pertaining to railfanning in Illinois.
CSXBOY
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 335
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:07 pm
Location: Just north of the CSX Detroit sub

Chicagoland

Unread post by CSXBOY »

Deemed as the railway capital of the world, it truly is one giant cluster when you are looking at Chicago's railroads. So I need some help. I am taking a trip to Montana in August and I will be boarding Amtrak in Western Wisconsin, so I will have at least one day in Chicagoland to railfan. I am looking for CN, CP, BNSF and UP because I see enough of CSX and NS at home. What are some good safe and reliable places to fan? I have done Griffith, La Grange, the BNSF chillicothe sub and Franklin Park at least once. We are thinking about West Chicago, but is there any other good and safe locations to view trains?

Thanks

User avatar
Jetlink
Not a Railfan
Posts: 3381
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:41 pm
Location: 2.5 miles from CH 116.3

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by Jetlink »

West a ways but Rochelle, IL for UP and BNSF. Great safe rail fan park.
interested in trains

Not a Railfan: Nothing

BamaSubdivision94
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 255
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:40 pm

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by BamaSubdivision94 »

Just about everything you need to know about railfanning in Chicago you can find here:

https://dhke.com/CRJ/

CSXBOY
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 335
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:07 pm
Location: Just north of the CSX Detroit sub

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by CSXBOY »

I have been to Rochelle three times and I got tons of amazing footage of it before and after the Quiet Zone got into effect. Not looking at that this year but thanks.
Thanks for the link

Jim_c
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 232
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:14 pm

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by Jim_c »

Depending on your available time, Savanna may be interesting. CP and BNSF. Its right on the Mississippi. You can get fairly close to the CP yard without running afoul of the authorities. There are a couple spots in town and a river access north of town that are right on the BNSF.
Trails to Rails. Put the track back.

GreatLakesRailfan
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 4813
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 12:28 am
Location: Marysville, Michigan

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by GreatLakesRailfan »

Are you going to have access to a vehicle or are you looking for locations that can be accessed via public transportation (i.e Metra/CTA/etc)?
~ Charles W.

PatAzo
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:20 pm

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by PatAzo »

In and around Chicagoland. Elmhusrt for the UP. Nice public area along the track. Hillsdale for some BNSF traffic. Good spot but not as much freight as there once was but a nice spot just south of Elmhusrt.

CSXBOY
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 335
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:07 pm
Location: Just north of the CSX Detroit sub

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by CSXBOY »

Yeah I was looking at Elmhurst as a possibility. I will be in Chicagoland for at least one day for trains. My mother is tagging along with me because I dont wanna fight traffic in Chicagoland alone. I want someone with experience to get me through Chicago. We are heading to western Wisconsin so I can board the Amtrak for Montana. Plus my mom does not want to drive 500 miles in one day so yeah I have at least one day in Chicagoland for trains. Either considering West Chicago or Elmhurst. Anywhere else in the vicinity will be good suggestions.

PatAzo
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:20 pm

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by PatAzo »

Elmhurst has public parking and grass right alongside the track. It's a nice spot to throw out a lawn chair and watch trains. Being close to Global II and a connection to the IHB most trains are not moving fast. At Hinsdale there is parking along the track at the Metra depot. There is a bridge over the track walking distance east that has sidewalks you can railfan from. Trains can roll right along through Hinsdale. Both are nice areas overall to hang out. Further south at Willow Springs is the old ATSF main. There is a park along the track but no good views unless you trespass. Just grade crossings near there.

LVrrfan
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2021 2:52 pm

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by LVrrfan »

Travel a little SW to Joliet...this has UP, BNSF, and CN, but not all at the same spot....Also, try Homewood and Matteson for all CN

SecondCreek
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2022 5:44 pm

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by SecondCreek »

Rondout in the northern suburbs of Chicago is a popular place. Safe viewing from a pedestrian bridge that spans frequent Canadian Pacific, Metra, and Amtrak trains.

Rondout was also the place of the largest train robbery in US history and there's a memorial noting it.

https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=54066

If you get lucky, you will see a CN train crossing the Rondout diamonds going from east to west on the former EJ&E going up to North Chicago and back to switch the last two industries on the former EJ&E line east of Mundelein. If you see the CN job going east across the diamonds you can meet it in North Chicago and catch it working EMCO Chemical and WestRock. Don't bother trying to chase and get pictures along the way as there is too much traffic and much of the line goes through Great Lakes Naval Base. Just Google EMCO for the address, meet it there, and watch the CN crew use the runaround track by the base to sort cars and work those industries. It's about a ten minute drive from Rondout.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/39092860@ ... 9h-2iSZmkY

Just north of North Chicago is Waukegan which used to be a lot busier. The EJ&E used to go up there and the track is still in place but no longer used by CN north of North Chicago. Interesting railroad archeology where the EJ&E used to service lakeside industries. Waukegan does see UP freight trains as well as Metra which has a station and coach yard there. UP still services several industries in the area including Abbvie in North Chicago and some just over the WI border.

Also WSOR comes through Rondout via the former MILW Janesville or J line which joins the former MILW Chicago & Milwaukee mainline right by the bridge. WSOR has trackage rights over Metra from Fox Lake, IL, down into Chicago.

CP in addition to lots of freight trains on this busy mainline between Chicago and Milwaukee also operates a patrol that comes all the way down from Milwaukee, working local industries on its way, then it goes up the J Line to switch the last customer on that line, Hines Lumber, in Grayslake. It comes into Rondout to change tracks from the C&M to the J Line. WSOR switches everything northwest of Fox Lake on the J Line.

So in one spot you can potentially catch CP, Metra, Amtrak, CN, and WSOR...and if you drive a little bit farther north you will catch UP in Waukegan.

The Rondout pedestrian bridge and connecting bike trail are built on the former North Shore Line interurban branch to Mundelein. Rondout used to be a major interchange place between the Milwaukee Road/Soo/CP and the EJ&E but that stopped soon after CN acquired the EJ&E. Prior to the abandonment of the North Shore Line in 1963 Rondout was a major interchange point for the NSL and the EJ&E. You can still make out where the ramp was for the NSL/EJ&E connection SE of where the bike trail goes over the CN track.

Don't park in the parking lot of the private club in the NE quadrant of the CP/Metra/Amtrak-CN crossing-you might get towed. Park instead alongside the road that goes under the bike trail. Rondout used to have its own passenger station ages ago but it torn down a long time ago.

CSXBOY
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 335
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:07 pm
Location: Just north of the CSX Detroit sub

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by CSXBOY »

I know it’s late and all. But I did visit two locations. Chicago heights yes it was a risk but it was well worth it. I ended up seeing UP 2002 leading a train, a CSX mac duo on a freight, a UP SD70M leading a intermodal out of yard center and saw multiple UP and CN trains there. Risky area but well worth it. West Chicago was right near our hotel. So I ended up there did the rest of my shooting. It was very unique as I got to talk to the CN tower guy. Great guy as well. Saw multiple UP, CN and metra trains during my brief time there. We didn’t do any shooting after that as my parents drove me to the station and on the way back from montana we saw some St. Louis cardinals and Chicago cubs games at Wrigley field on my way back to Michigan. Very nice time in the Chicagoland area minus the horrible traffic.

Blaze06
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2022 9:25 pm
Location: Downers Grove, IL
Contact:

Re: Chicagoland

Unread post by Blaze06 »

CSXBOY wrote:
Sat Mar 26, 2022 5:53 pm
Deemed as the railway capital of the world, it truly is one giant cluster when you are looking at Chicago's railroads. So I need some help. I am taking a trip to Montana in August and I will be boarding Amtrak in Western Wisconsin, so I will have at least one day in Chicagoland to railfan. I am looking for CN, CP, BNSF and UP because I see enough of CSX and NS at home. What are some good safe and reliable places to fan? I have done Griffith, La Grange, the BNSF chillicothe sub and Franklin Park at least once. We are thinking about West Chicago, but is there any other good and safe locations to view trains?

Thanks
I got you man! As a Chicago railfan, BNSF Racetrack is a must! Metra rush hour is always strong! As for UP I’d recommend the UP Geneva sub in places like Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, and Rochelle! As for CP and CN, I’d recommend the former EJ&E Leithton Sub bc that’s CN’s primary route in the Chicago area. For CP that’s tricky as you need to really know when stuff is coming. I highly recommend Spaulding Junction along the Metra Milwaukee West Line as it crosses over the Leithton Sub which will keep you busy while waiting for a CP 253 manifest which normally passes through Spaulding around the 3:00-4:00 range! Hope this helps! Maybe I’ll see ya around the area sometime!
Here’s my channel! Take a look if you want! 8)
https://youtube.com/channel/UCu8Qs-E8QInEwg-Po4zXLmQ

Post Reply