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Illinois

It is said that Chicago is the "Rail Capitol of the World", but I would have to say that the whole state of Illinois may lay claim to that title. I work on projects all over the USA and have had two assignments that have transplanted me in Illinois. Believe me, I saw so many trains on both projects that I could devote a whole website to just trains in Illinois. Blue Island was one of my favorite spots in the Chicagoland area with Dolton (CSX and IHB) just down the road. I highly recommend Blue Island to any first time visitor to the state. You will see just about anything that passes through Chicago rumbling over the five massive steel bridges of Blue Island.
The next most active area I was in was East St. Louis and Valley Jct. It was almost nonstop train movement there. Don't miss that area if you are in the St. Louis area. Enjoy my sampling of photos from Illinois. My top 5 best train watching areas in Illinois are: #5 Rochelle, #4 Centralia, #3 East St. Louis, #2 Joliet, and my #1 place is Blue Island. People will differ with me, but I was only there for a short period of time and based my rating on variety, action, and frequency of trains that I saw.


This is an Iowa Interstate (IAIS) train waiting to leave Blue Island and head west. It's a beautiful Saturday as evident with the Metra trains tied up in the background. Blue Island is a beehive of activity where you can see everything Chicago has to offer in one place with the exception of the IC.
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The GT train approaching the first bridge on the left was the first of about 6 trains that passed within the matter of an hour at Blue Island. This December 13, 1998 shot was taken from the sidewalk at the Western Ave grade crossing, across the river from downtown Blue Island. The GT, CN, and IAIS use the first bridge from the left, the next bridge is used by CP and BNSF, the next single track bridge is not used, the next bridge is used by CSX and IHB, and the last bridge is used by SOO, WC, and CP. I am told that the RR cops, and each railroad had a bunch, will ticket you if you stray from the safety of the sidewalk.
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A long time ago I saw a cow/calf set of power in Provo, UT on the Union Pacific, but they were not running. This is the only other place I have seen that type of power and actually running. And all this time I though it was something Athearn had come up in order to sell model trains. The Indiana Harbor Belt set is seen here at their yard in Dolton on December 13, 1998. I got this shot from the parking lot by the yard office just before the special agent wanted to know what a cajun was doing on the property. We talked for a while then he asked me to leave. Thanks for letting me get a couple of pictures.
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There I was first time in big time snow shooting trains. I had been trying to get pictures like this for years. Naturally, all the guys at the plant where I was working blamed the "Blizzard of 99" on me because I kept saying "I wish it would snow." It did, 24 inches later I managed to get out and snap a few shots of a lifetime for me.
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Joliet is the end of the line for the Metra commuter trains that travel back and forth from Chicago. Date is January 9, 1999 and a couple of days after the "Blizzard of 99" that blanketed Chicago with 24 inches of snow and an all time low temperature record of minus 36 degrees F. This white stuff didn't go away for weeks, unlike the rare snows of 1/8 inch that we get in Louisiana and that melts away in the matter of hours.
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Working at a power plant in Coffen, IL I had the opportunity to see lots of coal trains and get the inside scoop on where there were. Well you didn't need the inside scoop, because they were everywhere. This UP power (Mac 90+AC4400's) from an empty coal train are tied up at Pawnee, IL where a remote control C&IM SD9 is used to move the coal cars over the unloader bins. The caboose is in the new Illinois Midland colors. Date is August 1, 1998.
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Hookdale is out in the middle of nowhere on the BNSF mainline. When you get to Vandalia just go east and you will find this beautiful elevator. Lots of BNSF coal trains pass through this area headed towards Centralia, IL. This shot was taken on July 18, 1998.
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Getting my kicks along Route 66, Litchfield is located between St. Louis and Springfield, IL and is a great place to catch both the NS and BNSF traffic. This BNSF coal train is headed east (actually south) and is approaching the city of Litchfield. This was a very good spot for meets, with the BNSF crossing the NS just on the other side of town along Route 66.
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A southbound loaded coal train with a Mac 90 and a AC4400 pass the East St. Louis airport crossing on July 19, 1998. The train will change crews just down the road in Dupo, IL.
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Valley Jct in East St. Louis, IL is a beehive of activity as seen in this August 30, 1998 shot at the junction. The UP/NS mix train pulls out of the Alton Southern yard and heads south to Dupo while another UP train makes a loop back into the AS yard. The CSX train to the left is coming in off the Terminal Railway and will enter the Gateway Western yard to the right of the UP/NS train and out of the picture.
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The only two Geeps on the Alton Southern are the 2000 and 2001 seen here almost faded into white from the original yellow. The date is August 9, 1998 and the local projects are just out of the picture to the right. It is not recommended to be in this area at anytime.
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Two trains preparing to exit the Gateway yard in East St. Louis, IL. The MKM F45 leading the BNSF train will head across the UP/SP coal train and head north while the UP Mac 90 and the SP AC4400 will head west over the river with its empty coal train.
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This July 18, 1998 shot was taken, with permission, behind the Alton Southern (AS) engine house. The AS was formed by the Missouri Pacific (MP) and the Chicago Northwestern (CNW) to handle switching activities in the St. Louis area. The MP is represented by the blue color and the buzzsaw, while the CNW is represented by the yellow coloring and the bar through the buzzsaw. All of their switchers are SW1500's and are usually coupled nose to nose.
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