Chicago Rail Superintendents Association
Special to Davis Jct., Ill.
May 15, 2013

by Dave Ingles

On Wed., May 15th, the Chicago Rail Superintendents Association ran a special train for its members and guests, the first such special in several years. On board were numerous rail employees who were obviously railfans, both well-known and possibly "closet fans." Our late friend Ed De Rouin of suburban Chicago, retired from a career with Commonwealth Edison, had been invited for several years, and invited me and various other Kalmbachers to ride a few times. The most memorable was when Rob McGonigal and I rode one from Union Station out the UP West line to Proviso, then up the freight line to the UP Northwest Line west of Des Plaines, and on out to Janesville, where we interchanged to the Wisconsin & Southern for an "inspection" of its roundhouse. We then returned to Chicagoland on the WSOR, via Fox Lake and onto Metra MILW North. Rob and I detrained at Glenview and caught an Amtrak Hiawatha back to Milwaukee, same route we'd ridden down to Chicago.

CRSA had not run such a special in maybe 3 years, and this one was to go out the MILW West to Davis Junction, then south on the old CB&Q Rockford line, now Illinois Railway, to Flagg Center, and onto the BNSF C&I Aurora Sub to Aurora and back on "the Raceway" into Chicago. However, BNSF pleaded congestion with all its new tank-car trains, etc., and the trip changed to a round trip to Davis Jct. and back on the Metra MILW West to Pingree Grove and CP's former DM&E out to "DJ." This had been MILW-Soo-I&M Rail Link-IC&E before DM&E.

Power was Metra F40 215, one of its two ex-Amtrak F40s, and four PV's: 3 Iowa Pacific domes (2 ex-Santa Fe, 1 ex-GN) and an ex-UP business observation car. Creative Charters' "Warren R. Henry."

Jeff Madden and I met at Mukwonago park and ride and headed south on I-43 and I-39, intending to intercept the special somewhere around Genoa. We kept in touch by phone with friend Craig Willett, on board, to monitor progress. Heading east on Illinois 72 along the CP, we decided to hold back at "the red barn shot" east of Kirkland for our first runby. We first shot him there at 10:23, then in Kirkland at 10:27, then the detector at Bennett Road at 10:38 before heading to the east end of "DJ's" mini-yard for a sequence at the east siding switch at 10:49. As always, slides came first with me, so not every encounter was shot on digital.

Once into Davis Jct., the train took the north wye connection toward Rockford to begin his turnaround move. He then backed around the northwest wye and reversed all the way back west of the main line's only road crossing, Junction Road, for a photo op for "official" photographer Mark Llanuza, to pose the train next to the town's water tower.

The train arrived for this photo sequence at 10:55. The views are from the Route 72 crossing.

Our friend Craig Willett waves from the vestibule of the Prairie View, restored to original Empire Builder colors. On the left is Jim Fetchero, formerly of Charlotte, NC, now Iowa Pacific's Manager of Operations and a hard-core rare-mileage collector.

Tell me these platform riders are "serious railroaders" and not "foamer employees."

The lead car was ex-ATSF, now Iowa Pacific "Sky View." The ex-GN car has its original name and number back with "SLRG" reporting marks, standard for Iowa Pacific cars, signifying assignment to the San Luis & Rio Grande tourist line out of Alamosa, Colo.

Moving to the Junction Road crossing, I waited for the photo op to finish. Jeff Madden, meantime, moved to the diamond to get the train departing crossing the north-south line, now Illinois Railway (in olden times, CB&Q from Flagg Center to Rockford, with MILW trackage rights for its Rockford-Mendota-Oglesby line, which had its own trackage south from Steward).

The train left Davis Jct. at 11:52, and Jeff and I took up the chase.

Our first two eastbound spots were Monroe Center, at 12:01 pm and Kirkland, at 12:12. We then made for Genoa, where we knew he was going to meet CP #273.

At the west end of Genoa siding, at the east end of town, CP #273 sat in the siding, waiting, engines 8861/CSX 8790, certainly a comedown from the blue-and-yellow SD40's of the IC&E/DM&E fleet that one usually encounters here (and they're still percolating along). The vine-covered protrusion between the 2nd and 3rd lineside poles in front of us is the south pier of an interurban from getting close to a century ago. The Sycamore & Woodstock, which ran from Sycamore to Marengo but never reached Woodstock, was required by the Milwaukee Road predecessor to bridge over its main line at Genoa, a common ploy by steam roads in that era to help beat down the competition. The S&M was never electrified, and ran from 1911-1918. By Googling "Genoa interurban," I found the info on this line, with a photo of a car at the bridge's north pier, which also still exists and is vine-covered. The link is:

At 12:30 the special pulled up (I did not take a digital coming-on) and stopped to drop off or pick up a CP official. He departed at 12:34, and after a quick lunch grab to-go at McDonald's in Genoa, we headed out to catch up with CP #273, ending our chase of the CRSA special.

We overtook the 42-car #273 near the red barn along Hwy. 72 before Kirkland, then shot him going thru town at 12:58, then at Kilbuck Road just west of I-39 at 1:12. When he got to Davis Jct., he stopped to interchange with himself (and maybe the Illinois Railway), as the "Beloit Job," a turn from "West Yard" in South Beloit, Ill., was in town, with single unit 4523. We watched and photographed the Beloit Job switch and couple up to his train, and then he cleared the diamond.
The blank area inside the northwest wye (foreground) used to house the Track Inn, a really good restaurant, and with a bar. The depot sat in the northeast quadrant.

I've always wanted to pose a train, of anyone's with this street sign in Davis Jct., which used to have the streets "wrong", i.e., Pacific on top, to be "properly read."

CP #273 finally left town at 1:32 for Savanna. In Davis Jct. proper, "Junction Road" is "Maple Avenue."

With the afternoon yet young, Jeff and I headed for Rochelle to see what we could see. It didn't take us long to see some action, as we were caught at the Washington St. BNSF crossing, just west of where the CB&Q/BN depot sat until recent times (razed owing to being structurally unsafe, replaced by a new modular building for local crew and MofW folks), for three trains. And i was caught red-faced by the third train, one of the usual westbound stackers, on Track 2 right in front of us.

Our first of two eastbounds on Track 1 was this one at 2:10, units 4915/4802/6771/4404, and was on us so fast I didn't get a slide.

The next one, right behind him, at 2:17, had units 8945/5727. Two minutes later, the westbound stacker zoomed by me.

Slightly humbled, I drove out to the east side, where we stumbled upon the catch of the day -- the Burlington Jct. at work (on the city-owned Rochelle Railroad). What's more, the crew was using the MLW switcher, 8711. I suspect the BJRR crews who drive over here to work this job vary from time to time. The photos are around Steam Plant Road from 2:40 to 2:45, as the crew was tying up for the day.
Usually crews favor the EMD SW1500, 1516, and during a stop to throw a switch, one of this crew answered my question by saying they preferred "this Alco," because "it will pull everything we put on it."

My last digital on him has him passing the Cold Storage firm's Trackmobile. When the 8711 tied up out to the east, I shot only slides.

Returning into town, to the Railroad Park, our next train was this westbound UP merchandiser at 2:56 with UP 3906/CN 2628.

For reasons now forgotten, I didn't shoot the next two trains we saw, a westbound vehicle trilevel UP train at 3:22 and a BNSF westbound stack train with units 5243/4392 and 2 others. Jeff wanted to check out Global 3 and environs, so we went out there and wound up shooting a slow-moving eastbound at Flagg, with UP 7458/4468 on the point and DPU 6251 on the rear, at 3:46.

Next we went up to Flagg Center ("Flag" to the BN -- it's the local township name here) and got an eastbound BNSF tank-car train behind 8832/UP 7127 at 4:08.

Back at the diamond in town, we got a nice shot of an empty coal train behind UP 5648/6303/5839, the middle unit a "patched" SP, at 4:32.

We then missed a shot, can't recall why, maybe parked in the parking lot, which is not good for BNSF's, of a westbound BNSF stacker behind four usual orange GE's, with 6383 leading, at 4:46. Five minutes later came a UP empty WPSX (Wis. Public Service) coal train behind 7136/6542, with DPU 6684, at 4:51. 

We set an arbitrary 5 p.m. quit for the 2-hour drive home, but stayed for a westbound BN vehicle train, which we shot passing the tied up switcher 2325 at the former depot site. The uniformity of "vehicle trains" make them a favorite with me, and this is perhaps my No. 1 shot of the day aside from the CRSA special and catching the BJRR 8711 in action. This guy, engines 6090/9934, was by us at 5:03, and we hit the road for home, grabbing supper en route (probably Steak n Shake in Rockford, but memory fails me). It was a very productive day.

This page was designed and is maintained by Mike Condren. If you have materials
that you would like to contribute, contact me at