Posts Tagged ‘Joliet Union Station’

Waiting to Board in Joliet

November 23, 2021

It is early in the Amtrak era and the wayback machine has landed us in Joliet, Illinois, at the Union Station. This was a good place to watch passenger trains in the early 1970s as it hosted Amtrak trains to St. Louis, Houston and Los Angeles, as well as Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific trains to Peoria and Rock Island. And that is not to mention commuter trains to and from Chicago.

A large crowd of passengers has gathered on the platform to board the Abraham Lincoln to St. Louis. The train is still operating with Gulf, Mobile & Ohio E7 passenger locomotives. No. 101 had been built by EMD in March 1945 for The Alton Road and has passed this station countless times over the years.

It was being leased by Amtrak and never joined the national passenger carrier’s permanent motive power roster.

If you look back in the consist you’ll see that there is a dome car.

The dispatcher must be planning to take the “Abe” out of town via the Santa Fe because it has come in on a Santa Fe track.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

One Day at Joliet in August 1972

November 4, 2021

Sometimes it is the full scene that explains a photo. The late Mike Ondecker and I were in Joliet, Illinois, on Aug. 12, 1972.

My eyes were first drawn to Rock Island 630, which was the last operating EMD E6A, and its train. Next my eyes looked at the station plus the train.

Then on the left I noticed the Santa Fe Warbonnet F-units just pulling into the station with an Amtrak train. 

As I said, it is sometimes the scene that tells a story.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Abe Calls in Joliet

July 9, 2021

Passengers are waiting on the platform at Joliet Union Station as Amtrak’s St. Louis-bound Abraham Lincoln arrives for its station stop.

The date is Aug. 12, 1972, and the Abe is operating between Milwaukee and St. Louis as part of a short-lived move to route some trains through Chicago Union Station.

On the point today is Gulf, Mobile & Ohio E7A No. 101. The track between Chicago and St. Louis was mostly a GM&O route and the Abraham Lincoln had been a GM&O passenger train.

As a point of interest, this image was made two days after the GM&O and Illinois Central merged to form the Illinois Central Gulf.

The tracks in the foreground belong to the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, which at the time of this photograph operated commuter trains to Joliet and a pair of intercity passenger trains running Chicago-Rock Island, Illinois, and Chicago-Peoria, Illinois.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

A Pooch in Joliet

January 13, 2021

Amtrak purchased 25 P30CH locomotives from General Electric in the 1970s. Although the thinking at the time was that the units could be used for long-distance service once new equipment with head-end power capability arrived, that plan didn’t quite work out that way.

The P30s, known by some as “pooches,” did haul some long-distance trains on a regular basis, including the Cardinal, Panama Limited, Sunset Limited and Auto Train.

They saw spot duty on other long-distance trains and based on photographs I’ve seen from the late 1970s were assigned to the San Francisco Zephyr between Chicago and Denver for a time.

If you lived in the Midwest, though, you probably saw P30s on the point of corridor trains using Illinois Central Gulf tracks.

Shown above is No. 724 leading the Ann Rutledge southbound at Joliet, Illinois, on Aug. 13, 1976. At the time it was a Chicago-St. Louis train.

In the background is Joliet Union Station.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Fleeting Moments of Glory

April 15, 2019

With the timetable change of Nov. 14, 1971, Amtrak sought to make a bold statement by operating two pairs of trains between Milwaukee and St. Louis via Chicago Union Station.

It was the first time an entire train was scheduled to operate through CUS.

Nos. 301 and 304, renamed from The Limited to the Prairie State and Nos. 302 and 303, which remained named the Abraham Lincoln, used tracks of the Milwaukee Road between Chicago and Milwaukee, and the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio between Chicago and St. Louis.

Amtrak also gave the trains dome cars to go along with their coaches, parlor cars and dining cars.

The operation was an anomaly in many ways. GM&O locomotives operated the entire route with Milwaukee Road motive power also assigned.

Dining car patrons received an Amtrak menu wrapped in a GM&O cover with orders written on Milwaukee Road checks.

Chefs and waiters from both railroads were assigned to dining car service.

In the view above, it is 8:41 a.m. on Oct. 15, 1972, in Joliet, Illinois, when the Prairie State makes its station stop at Union Station.

GM&O 100A is an E8m that had been built in June 1937 as E3A No. 52 for the Baltimore & Ohio and was just one of six such units built by the then-named Electro Motive Corporation, later the Electro Motive Division of General Motors.

At the time the B&O controlled The Alton Road, which operated between Chicago and St. Louis and in 1940 No. 52 was transferred to that railroad where it pulled Chicago-St. Louis passenger trains.

It became 100A in 1947 when the GM&O gained control of The Alton. It was rebuilt in March 1953 when it became an E8m.

In its early years Amtrak leased motive power from its host railroads although many of those units never made it onto the Amtrak roster, including GM&O No. 100A.

The GM&O merged with the Illinois Central to become the Illinois Central Gulf in August 1972 and No. 100A remained on the roster through August 1974. It was sold for scrap the following March.

Behind No. 100A on this day is Milwaukee Road No. 349, an E9B that did make it onto the Amtrak roster as No. 451. It was retired by Amtrak in October 1975.

The Prairie State did not remain a fixture in Amtrak timetables for very long.

On Oct. 1, 1973, Nos. 301 and 304 were assigned Turboliner equipment and the trains names were dropped.

There is still a No. 301 and 304 in the Amtrak timetable but those trains are known as Lincoln Service. Amtrak never used the name Prairie State again.

New Joliet Station Opens

April 11, 2018

The Joliet Gateway Center will open today in Joliet, Illinois, serving Amtrak and Metra trains.

Development of the facility began in 2010 and the Chicago suburb has been without a train station since Union Station closed in September 2014.

Amtrak and Metra have been using trailers and passengers have boarded trains from temporary platforms.

As part of the opening, passengers were offered complimentary coffee and donuts in the main lobby.

Lack of funding halted plans to include a bus station as part of the facility, which was initiated projected to cost $42 million but actually wound up costing $51 million.

The facility is used by Metra’s Rock Island and Heritage corridors as well as Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains.

Statehouse at Joliet

August 11, 2017

The southbound  St. Louis-bound Statehouse rolls into Joliet Union Station on June 19, 1998. Aside from the Phase III livery on the P42DC locomotive, the scene is similar in appearance to today in that some Chicago-St. Louis passenger trains feature a mix of Horizon coaches and Anfleet food service cars.

The Statehouse was funded in part by the State of Illinois and at the time operated on a mid-day schedule.

RTG Turboliner Memories

April 14, 2017

A photograph that my friend Bob Farkas sent me this week of an Amtrak RTG Turboliner at Joliet, Illinois, brought back a lot of fond memories.

I rode the Turboliner when I lived in Springfield, Illinois, in the mid-1970s, but many of my memories involve watching the French-built train.

Sometimes on a late Friday afternoon I would go to the Amtrak station to see the Turboliner from St. Louis arrive en route to Chicago.

During my first semester at the then-named Sangamon State University, I had a class that met in the early evening.

It got out shortly before the evening Turboliner was to leave Springfield for St. Louis. Parking for the downtown SSU campus was in a lot next to the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio tracks, which were Illinois Central Gulf by then.

If it a searchlight signal next to the tracks was green, the Amtrak train was in the station out of sight a few blocks to the north. I’d sit in my car until the train came past and then go home.

My first ride on a Turboliner came in February 1975 when I made a trip to St. Louis to visit my grandparents.

I liked the Turboliner. It was modern, had nice large windows and lived up to its billing in a an Amtrak radio advertisement of the time with a tagline of “hitch a ride on the future.:

But not everyone did felt the way that I did. Many passengers disliked the narrow seats that barely reclined, the narrow aisles and the sometimes hard to open doors. Another drawback was limited seating in the café car.

The Turboliner had a fixed capacity of 296, so some passengers were left standing during peak travel periods.

Those who regularly rode Amtrak in the Chicago-Springfield-St. Louis corridor preferred conventional equipment over the Turboliner.

Some locomotive engineers wouldn’t work on the Turboliner because they didn’t feel they would be protected enough during a grade crossing collision with a large truck.

When they began service on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor on Oct. 1, 1973, Amtrak touted the Turboliner as the greatest advancement in transportation since the 747.

Although much was made of the capability of the Turboliner to run more than 100 mph, the fastest it could sprint between Chicago and St. Louis was 79 p.m.

But the Turboliner schedule was a half-hour faster than trains using conventional equipment and 11 minutes faster than GM&O trains of the late 1940s.

An Amtrak official conceded to Trains magazine editor David P. Morgan that the purpose the flashy-looking Turboliners was to show that Amtrak was doing something to improve passenger service other than making cosmetic improvements to hand-me-down equipment.

Morgan said the Turboliner reminded him of the low center of gravity lightweight trains that railroads tried in the 1950s but which failed to catch on.

The last Turboliner in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor ran on Trains 301/304. It was withdrawn from the route after it struck an asphalt truck at Elwood, Illinois, on Nov. 18, 1975.

About a month later, Nos. 301/304 because the first Midwest corridor trains to receive the new Amfleet equipment.

My last trip aboard a Turboliner came in November 1980 when I rode the Lake Cities from  Chicago to Toledo via Detroit.

The next time I remember seeing a Turboliner was in the mid-1990s at the Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis. One of the Turboliner sets was sitting forlornly off to the side.

I’ve seen photographs of a Turboliner sitting in a junk yard near Dugger, Indiana. One of these days I’ve got to get out there to see if it is still there.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Rocketing Into Joliet

February 6, 2017

rock-june-25-1977-x

The Peoria Rocket arrives at Joliet Union Station on June 25, 1977, as a handful of people watch.

There was a time when the Rocket name meant very good service on the Rock Island Railroad. But June 1977 was not one of those times.

It is an early Saturday evening in Joliet, Illinois, as the Peoria Rocket approaches Joliet Union Station.

The Rocket is funded in part by the State of Illinois, but that will not be enough to keep it going much longer.

I had boarded the Rocket in Peoria earlier in the day for a day trip to Chicago. I was appalled by the condition of the train and made a spur-of-the-moment decision to ride Amtrak’s Lone Star to Joliet to pick up the Rocket for my return leg to Peoria.

The ride aboard the Rocket was rough and there had been few passengers on the trip to Chicago earlier in the day. The equipment was worn out.

In retrospect I wished I had better appreciated the experience that I had, though. The Peoria Rocket was one of the last of its kind.

I also wish that I had better photography skills than I had when I made this image. Namely, that I had waited to snap the photograph until the nose of the locomotive was closer.

But I was young and had much to learn. Today this image reminds me of another time that is never going to come back around, but at least I did make the effort to experience it.

Faded Slide, Faded Amtrak Glory

January 6, 2017

ann-rutlege-at-joliet-on-october-3-1981

Maybe it is just as well that this slide of Amtrak’s Ann Rutledge at Joliet, Illinois, is faded. The Chicago to Kansas City train is just a faded memory in the minds of those who remember it.

Originally, a Chicago-St. Louis train of the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, Amtrak reprised the name in the 1970s.

After the State of Missouri funded a restoration of Amtrak service between St. Louis and Kansas City, Amtrak extended the Ann Rutledge to K.C. on Oct. 29, 1979.

Originally, Amtrak Nos. 301 and 304 were turboliner trains, departing Chicago in the morning and St. Louis in the late afternoon.

In December 1976, they became the first Midwest corridor trains to receive Amfleet equipment. They were named the Ann Rutledge on Feb. 15, 1976.

The Ann Rutledge name vanished from the Amtrak timetable on Oct. 31, 1976, when the Inter-American was extended to Chicago.

But the Ann Rutledge name returned a year later when Amtrak dropped the Abraham Lincoln name for the evening train from Chicago to St. Louis.

With the April 2, 2007, timetable change, Amtrak renamed all of its Chicago-St. Louis trains Lincoln Service. But Ann Rutledge remained as a name for a St. Louis-Kansas City roundtrip until Oct. 27, 2008.

This image of the outbound Ann Rutledge was made on Oct. 3, 1981.