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FAQ
Over the years, there's been a ton of information collected from emails, posts to the EJE Yahoo List, and various other sources... The below FAQ is an attempt at trying to organize some of that info into a usable list. Some questions you have about the EJ&E may be answered on this page. The list is alphabetical by major subject matter. You can scan through just the Question List, or proceed directly to the Answer List. Thanks go out to all the people that have offered info. Hopefully more will be added to this list as time goes on.

Question List

Aurora Branch - What's the story on this EJ&E Line?
Barrington Tower
- What is the status of Barrington Tower?
BN Connection at West Chicago
- What's the story?
BNSF
- I see BNSF trains on the EJ&E... Did they buy them out?
Bug Line - What is it?
Calumet Tower
- What is it, and what is its status?
Canadian National
- I see CN trains on the EJ&E... Did they buy them out?
Chicago Heights/Jay Tower
- What is the status of Chicago Heights Jay Tower?
Chicago, North Western Taconite Trains - When and where did they happen on the EJ&E?
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific at Minooka
- Did it connect with the EJ&E there?
Coke Oven
- I hear this on the radio... What is it and where?
Frontenac Station - Where is it, and what is it?
Gary City Track
- What and where is it?
GM&O Coal Trains
- How did they use the EJ&E in the old days?
Grasselli Tower - What is it, and what is its status?
Griffith Tower
- What is the status of Griffith Tower?
Hick Tower
- What is it, and what is its status?
Indiana Harbor Belt
- Does IHB have trackage rights on the EJ&E?
Milwaukee Road In Joliet - How did the Milwaukee connect with the EJ&E in Joliet?
Milwaukee Road on the J - When and where did this happen?
Owner - Who owns the EJ&E?
Passenger Service on the EJ&E - Did they ever have it, and when?
Porter Branch - What is it, and what is its status?
Rondout Tower - What is the status of Rondout Tower?
Union Pacific - I see UP trains on the EJ&E... Did they buy them out?
USS South Works - Where is it, and what is its status?
West Chicago/JB Tower - What is the status of West Chicago Tower?


Answer List

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 Tower?
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 the EJ&E.

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 early 70's.

Q: Coke Oven - I hear this on the radio... What is it and where?
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 back then.

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 Whiting Branch.

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 happen?
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 Chicago Tower?
A: The tower is still in full operation as of 2006.



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