Q: Aurora Branch - What's the story on
this EJ&E Line?
A: The EJ&E at one point had a branch that went
off the Western Sub main at about MP 13.0, and continued Northwest
into Aurora, IL. The Aurora Branch was abandoned in early spring
of 1977. The track was still intact in late summer of 77. The
next couple of years involved the J ripping up the track, and
the Fox Valley Park District taking over the right of way, and
making a bike trail out of it. From Hill Ave. all the way to
the wye at the former SA factory, you can bike the line, including
the 1923 built bridge over the Fox River, and same era bridge
over River St. The Aurora Depot was possibly torn down in the
summer of 1973. The entire ex-J Aurora yard and depot area has
been turned into a couple of soccer field's for the YMCA.
Q: Barrington Tower - What is the status of Barrington
A: Manual control was last used at Barrington Tower on 5/3/06,
and the tower was demolished in August of 2006. It is now controlled
remotely from Joliet.
Q: BN Connection at West Chicago - What's the story?
A: The BN branch that runs along the Fox River use
to connect with the CNW/UP line in West Chicago. The line ran
across the EJ&E just railroad East of JB Tower, and connected
to the CNW main further East. Where it crossed the J was Plant
'C', which was removed in 1997. The signals on the remainder
of the branch were left standing and lit red, until being removed
in 2002. This interchange was the first interchange in Illinois
between the first and second railroads... The G&CU and the
Aurora Branch Railroad which ran from West Chicago, then called
Turner and Aurora. This railroad grew to become the C&BQ.
The town changed its name to Turner Junction due to the novelty
of the crossing. The town then changed its name to West Chicago
in the 20's to try and promote itself as being close to Chicago.
Q: BNSF - I see BNSF trains on the EJ&E... Did they
buy them out?
A: No! BNSF has trackage rights on the EJ&E, and numerous
BNSF trains are moved on the line.
Q: Bug Line - What is it?
A: The "Bug Line" is the nickname given to the EJ&E
Romeoville Branch. The line passes through an environmentally
protected area where there is a rare species of dragon fly.
Extra steps are taken to help prevent damaging this sensitive
area, such as using locos with drip pans.
Q: Calumet Tower - What is it, and what is its status?
A: Calumet Tower is at the crossing of CSX/B&OCT main with
IHB's Kankakee Line and the J's Whiting Branch. The tower is
still in full operation as of 2006. This tower is not run by
Q: Canadian National - I see CN trains on the EJ&E...
Did they buy them out?
A: CN has trackage rights on the EJ&E, and numerous CN trains
are moved on the line. Unfortunately, it does look as though
CN will purchase the EJ&E as of late 2007. The move looks
to be a buyout, which indicates that CN already held an interest
in the EJ&E as far back as 2005.
Q: Chicago Heights/Jay Tower - What is the status of
Chicago Heights Jay Tower?
A: As of 2006, the tower still stands, but has not
been used for sometime.
Q: Chicago, North Western Taconite Trains - When and
where did they happen on the EJ&E?
A: Taconite trains were once interchanged from the
CNW in Waukegan, IL during the 70's. The interchange track was
pulled years ago. There is a stub remaining with a red stop
board, just a little southeast of the old CNW turntable. CNW
C-628's were often used on these trains, and before that, the
trains used CNW Alcos. Once on the J, as many as three EJ&E
center-cabs or SD38's took the train out of Waukegan. It's been
reported that a pair of EJ&E GP38-2's would often be used
on the rear of the trains, to help push them up the 1% grade
out of Waukegan. Due to this grade, the Upton wye that had been
taken out in the 60's was put back in during the early 70's,
so the trains could go that way instead. EJ&E power would
run to Upton to get the trains.
Q: Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific at Minooka - Did
it connect with the EJ&E there?
A: The CRI&P did at one time connect with the EJ&E's
IRL at Minooka. The track ran close against the embankment on
the south side of the J track. The grade crossing was immediately
south of the bridge that carries the EJ&E now. This connection
was apparently eliminated sometime between the mid 1960's and
Q: Coke Oven - I hear this on the radio... What is it
A: The "Coke Oven" refers to a lead that
starts just railroad east of Bridge 198 in Joliet, and proceeds
into the East Joliet Yard. The name stems from when there use
to be a Coke Oven in the area in the old days.
Q: Frontenac Station - Where is it, and what is it?
A: Frontenac is the name of an old station point on the Western
Sub, which is just railroad West of today's Normantown. There's
a water tower still there that marks the spot. It was originally
a small siding used for passing trains, and it had spring switches
on both ends. Regular westbound trains had the right of way
Q: Gary City Track - What and where is it?
A: It's an EJ&E branch that begins off the main at Pine
Jct. and runs East through Gary, IN to an area known as Aetna.
It terminates at a plant there that was originally Republic
Steel. In the old days, what's now the City Track, was the main
line of the B&O until they built their new line to the North.
Then it was part of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern for
awhile. The J acquired it later, and terminated it at Aetna.
It does not connect with Kirk Yard via CSX but runs just south
and parallel to CSX thru West and Central Gary. It never crosses
the CSX main... It feeds into the EJ&E main just south of
the CSX main at Pine. The J's main then passes over CSX on its
way to Kirk.
Q: GM&O Coal Trains - How did they use the EJ&E
in the old days?
A: The GM&O loads came up from Southern Illinois,
and Jackson St. in Joliet is where they would come onto the
EJ&E. The connecting track was a very sharp curve, so they
had to use 4-5 GM&O GP-30's or 35's. The H yard route was
the original route of these coal trains until the city complained
about tying up the southeast side when they rolled through.
The J then either bought, or got rights over the old MC elevation
1 (Southern most) track from UD to MC tower, and around the
MC connection to the EJ&E. This eliminated dealing with
any crossings until Washington Street. These trains went to
the plant at Waukegan or State Line.
Q: Grasselli Tower - What is it, and what is its status?
A: Grasselli Tower still operates on a part-time basis
and governs the crossing of the J branch running West from Shearson,
and IHB's Kankakee Line. This tower is run by the IHB.
Q: Griffith Tower - What is the status of Griffith Tower?
A: Manual control was last used at Griffith Tower in
December of 1999. The tower was then preserved and moved across
the tracks to the Griffith Historical Society property on 7/20/2000.
It's occasionally open to the public for viewing.
Q: Hick Tower - What is it, and what is its status?
A: Hick Tower controls the J's Lakefront Branch bridge over
the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal and the CP 502 interlocking at
Indiana Harbor. The tower is still in operation as of 2006.
This tower is not run by the EJ&E.
Q: Indiana Harbor Belt - Does IHB have trackage rights
on the EJ&E?
A: The IHB and EJ&E do share each others tracks
from time to time, and IHB does have trackage rights on the
Q: Milwaukee Road In Joliet - How did the Milwaukee
connect with the EJ&E in Joliet?
A: The Milwaukee Road approached Joliet from Delmar Junction
to the southeast. It crossed over the Illinois Central on a
trestle at Peotone and then crossed the Wabash in Manhattan
at grade. It connected with the EJ&E in Joliet just south
of Washington Street. This line was built as the Illinois, Iowa
& Minnesota Railway Company in 1904 and 1905 from Delmar
in Kankakee County, to Joliet in Will County, and from Aurora
in Kane County, to Rockford in Winnebago County. In 1905, the
II&M secured a contract with the EJ&E for overhead trackage
rights over the "J" between Joliet and Aurora. In
1908, the II&M was reorganized as the Chicago, Milwaukee
& Gary Railway Company. The CM&G was leased by the Milwaukee
Road in 1922 and absorbed by the Milwaukee in 1930. The Milwaukee
continued to use its overhead rights on the "J" between
Joliet and Aurora until about 1947. The Milwaukee abandoned
the former II&M line between Delmar and Joliet in 1977 or
1978. The industries along what is left of the former Milwaukee
Road yard in Joliet just south of Washington Street, are currently
being switched by the EJ&E.
Q: Milwaukee Road on the J - When and where did this
A: In the mid 60s, a damaged bridge on the IHB prevented Terre
Haute Division trains getting to and from Bensenville, so they
detoured on the EJ&E between Spaulding and Joliet, then
over the Milwaukee branch to Delmar. Trains met and swapped
crews at Joliet. A record-setting 325 car train was operated
during this detour.
Q: Owner - Who owns the EJ&E?
A: It's been switched around into many variations over the years...
But in simple terms, Transtar runs the railroad, and that company's
parent company is US Steel.
Q: Passenger Service on the EJ&E - Did they ever
have it, and when?
A: In 1886, the Joliet, Aurora & Northern (EJ&E predecessor)
operated scheduled passenger train service between Joliet and
Aurora. The EJ&E offered morning and evening passenger train
service between Joliet and Aurora six days a week. The depot
in Plainfield was built as a combination freight and passenger
station. The Joliet, Plainfield & Aurora Electric Railway
Company began operations on October 22nd, 1904 and rapidly acquired
the bulk of the passenger service between these two points.
The JP&A had a lower fare than the EJ&E and offered
more frequent service. It was about 1907 that the J discontinued
passenger trains, but not passenger service... Passengers were
carried aboard cabooses until 1909, when all passenger operations
ceased. The structure that is now Joliet's downtown fire house,
just north of Silver Cross field, was originally built in about
1892 by the EJ&E as a freight and passenger station, and
was the Joliet terminal for EJ&E passenger trains. It was
later used as a passenger station for the Joliet & Eastern
Traction Company, the interurban electric line that operated
between Joliet and Chicago Heights.
Q: Porter Branch - What is it, and what is its status?
A: The EJ&E built a line East from the state line to Griffith,
Hobart, and McCool in 1888. In 1893 the
line was extended from McCool to Porter. It was 56 miles from
Joliet to Porter. There was a spring switch at the end of the
double track leaving Griffith. There was also a spring switch
at each end of a siding at Hobart. There were two towers at
Hobart... One was called Ho Tower and the other was Bart Tower.
Even though the line between Griffith and Porter was called
the Porter Branch in its later days, it actually technically
went to Chesterton at the end of the line. The line was abandoned
between Griffith and Porter in 1984. The Porter branch is now
the Duneland Prairie Path, a bike and hike trail.
Q: Rondout Tower - What is the status of Rondout Tower?
A: The tower is still in full operation as of 2006.
Q: Union Pacific - I see UP trains on the EJ&E...
Did they buy them out?
A: No! The UP has trackage rights on the EJ&E, and numerous
UP trains are moved on the line.
Q: USS South Works - Where is it, and what is its status?
A: Besides serving USS Gary Works, the EJ&E also served
USS South Works in South Chicago, next to Lake Michigan. In
the mid 1980's US Steel shut down most of the plant, but a small
part of it continued to operate until 1992, which is when the
entire plant closed for good. In 1979 the South Works had 10,000
employees, and when it closed it had fewer than 700. As of 2006
the land was still undeveloped, but the EJ&E still comes
into a little interchange yard for the BRC at the bottom end
of where the property was.
Q: West Chicago/JB Tower - What is the status of West
A: The tower is still in full operation as of 2006.