One of my hometown railroads

on Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Joliet Junction Railroad on its first day of operations in 1994. Photo by Joe Petric

Having moved around a lot as a kid, I count Joliet, Ill., as one of probably five hometown railroads. I spent my high school and college years in this area. My first apartment was adjacent to a short line called the Joliet Junction Railroad. The 6-mile former Elgin, Joliet & Eastern branch line was out of service and, during my time living there, in disarray. 

The EJ&E abandoned the branch after a fire damaged a wooden trestle it decided wasn’t worth the cost to repair. Don Bachman, who also owned locomotive rebuilder Relco, bought the line and named it Joliet Junction Railroad. After repairing the damage, Joliet Junction operated for five years, 1994-99. Joliet Junction had main line connections with the EJ&E at Crest Hill, Ill., and CSX Transportation at Rockdale, Ill. In 1999, Bachman sold the line to the Forest Preserve District of Will County, who worked to turn it into a bike path. 

As I sat on my back porch, peeking through some brush, I couldn’t help but watch with fascination the machinery pulling up the track. Little did I know that a couple of years later I’d work for this magazine. Kismet, I suppose. I didn’t take any pictures of the obliterated line, but did acquire a souvenir spike, which resides in my office. Thanks to Classic Trains Senior Editor Dave Ingles for connecting me with Joe Petric, who provided the photo above of the first day of operations on the Joliet Junction in 1994. 

Former Elgin, Joliet & Eastern spike. Photo by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak 

Please consider entering the 2018 Trains Photo Contest, sponsored by Sigma, with the theme “My Hometown Railroad.” What railroad resonates with you? Show us. Find all the details:

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