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Help planning a Rochelle, Il trip.

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Help planning a Rochelle, Il trip.
Posted by Railfan1 on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 1:48 PM

This October I will be traveling 1200 miles to Rochelle and back. What are some suggested stops along the way. (i.e. train museums, hot spots) have not got a travel plan yet so anything is fair game. I will be going from NE Georgia to Rochelle so what are some things in between? Some good info on Rochelle is also welcomed.

Thanks in advance.

 

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Posted by One Track Mind on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 2:00 PM

If you've not yet been (since it's sorta close to you) stop by the Tennessee Valley museum in Chattanooga, well worth it. Not sure if that would be on your route.

There is a train museum in Monticello, IL which may be on your way.

But you really need to make sure to plan a visit to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. IIRC, it's only about an hour (to the northeast) of Rochelle. It'll be out of the way for you, but definately worth the visit.

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Posted by Railfan1 on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 2:46 PM

Thanks for the suggestions.

Yeah, I have been to the Tennessee Valley museum once right after I got my new digital camera. I took 80 pictures and lost everyone of 'em trying to get them on my computer. Where planning on stopping by there again. I'm not really into the historical stuff but I love that NS mainline on the hill right beside it.

I'll check into the other two places. Do they have a website?

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Posted by blhanel on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 8:43 PM

Hey Lance, here's the IRM site-

http://www.irm.org/

and the Monticello site-

http://www.prairienet.org/mrm/homepage.html 

 

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Posted by Railfan1 on Thursday, July 26, 2007 5:47 PM
Thank you, Brian. I will be stopping at these two for sure!
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Posted by Railfan1 on Sunday, July 29, 2007 10:57 AM
Are mondays slow at Rochelle like most other places or is it about the same as any other time?
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Posted by blhanel on Sunday, July 29, 2007 12:57 PM
I couldn't tell you myself, but I bet if you PM'ed Carl (CShaveRR) with that question he'd be able to answer it quite well, as he works in Proviso.
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Posted by oskar on Sunday, July 29, 2007 1:53 PM

Last time I went in 2005 I saw 50 in just 14 hours. That day was on a Sunday. There were two slow times. Around 10:30-12:30 and 4:00-6:00. Both times were due to Metra in Chicago.

Note: There are more UP trains than BNSF.

 

 

Kevin

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Posted by Railfan1 on Sunday, July 29, 2007 5:58 PM

 blhanel wrote:
I couldn't tell you myself, but I bet if you PM'ed Carl (CShaveRR) with that question he'd be able to answer it quite well, as he works in Proviso.

Will do.

"It's a great day to be alive" "Of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, It might have been......"
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Posted by Railfan1 on Sunday, July 29, 2007 5:59 PM
 oskar wrote:

Last time I went in 2005 I saw 50 in just 14 hours. That day was on a Sunday. There were two slow times. Around 10:30-12:30 and 4:00-6:00. Both times were due to Metra in Chicago.

Note: There are more UP trains than BNSF.

 

 

Kevin

Thanks.

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Posted by al-in-chgo on Monday, September 10, 2007 4:11 AM

Well, there are no guarantees.  I still remember being depressed all evening about a year ago after reading on this site an anguished letter from a young Australian woman who spent a day at Rochelle and saw . . .  nothing.  No movement at all. 

In lieu of a "real" getaway vacation my partner and I treated ourselves to three nights at the Comfort Inn in Rochelle, which is a block north of the east-west street that eventually leads to I-39.  We had a ten percent discount on our rooms (does anyone still give out that green business card?); but being Triple-A members would have gotten us the same deal.  AARP too, is my hunch, but I don't know for sure.  The incusion of a very

 

al-in-chgo
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Posted by drafterdude on Monday, September 10, 2007 8:22 AM

Railfan1 check out the Kentucky Railway Musuem www.kyrail.org the first three weekends in Oct. are steam weekends L&N K2a class pacific 152 will be running. If you come on a Saturday stop by the shop, like to meet you. Say Al what you doing up so early on a Monday?

Dale

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Posted by al-in-chgo on Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:47 AM

 

. . . why do I keep cutting myself off?  Anyway, since I am haunted by a posting from that  young Australian woman a year or two ago who budgeted all day for to see the trains at Rochelle, and found absolutely nothing, I thought I'd offer a diversion or two.  Rochelle is famed for its frequency, but gaps do indeed happen.  Just to let you know. 

There are times people get so frustrated with a Rochelle dry spell they leave to go find some other railroading.  Knowledgeable people from Rockford know how the short lines up there work, but those lines get only a few trains a day; so unless you know that environment well IMHO it's well enough to leave that hour-long trip alone.  One time-enhancer is to drive into DeKalb (about 20 mi. east); you'll parallel the UP tracks and will be able to see any UP action that there is -- including trains blocking DeKalb's main street!.  DeKalb is a state university town so if you're of a mind to, you'll find some trendish cafes and bookstores downtown that don't exist in more workaday Rochelle.  [Nonetheless I want to put in a "plug" for downtown Rochelle:  this is one town center that hasn't succumbed to blight or the plasticization of mall-like chain stores. A good "tavern row," too, if you're of a mind to. Big Smile [:D] ]

Further to the north and east, the continued suburban - exurban creep draws ever closer . . .  in fact the north end of DeKalb basically now flows into Sycamore and then you're tied into Chicagoland.  To the west and south, though, you are really out on the prairie here -- the motorist will notice in particular a paucity of services on I-39 as it heads northward from Bloomington-Normal to Rochelle and parts north. 

But there are options.  For the closest thing to guaranteed movement on the tracks, if you're willing to "commute" half an hour each way, I'd recommend taking I-39 about 28 mi. south toward the town of Mendota, IL, about two miles west of the Interstate from the U.S. Rte 34 interchange.  If memory serves, there is a new Super 8 right at the interchange, a blessing because little Mendota, unlike Rochelle, has restaurants of its own but no motel. 

There's an Amtrak station in Mendota which gets, I think, about five passenger trains a day, each way, including the Southwest Chief and some newer runs that I'm proud to say are subsidized by the State of Illinois.  (The only train that doesn't stop is the California Zephyr.)   Perhaps best of all, most people from outide our region don't know it yet, but two years ago the BNSF shifted its "Northern Transcon" route for most of Illinois northward from the old Santa Fe main (Chicago-Joliet-Streator-Chillicothe-Galesburg) to the exx-CB&Q, ex-BN mainline (Chgo-Aurora-Plano-Mendota-Princeton-Galesburg).  The traffic fluctuates with daily rhythms (especially to accommodate the Aurora-to-Chicago triple "racetrack" over which Amtrak, Metra and freight contend every work day), but it's where I would go if I were bound and determined to photo/look at some TRAINS! during a Rochelle drought.  Most Trancon traffic moves pretty fast, at least as fast as anything thru Rochelle and, as a comparison, faster than Folkston, Georgia's imposed 45 mph.  The freights don't always pause in Mendota.  Happily the Mendota depot, along with being a functioning Amtrak station, also has a small museum and a scale-model layout.  Worth the trip IMO.   I may be boring some of you with this redundant info. but maybe it is of service to you, Railfan One.

Back to Rochelle:  over this past Labor Day weekend, my partner and I put in a little over 20 hours at the Trainwatchers' Park shelter and took about 300 photos between the two of us.  I would estimate we saw around twenty trains, perhaps two more if we count a shuttle (not uncommon) heading out of the west toward the eastern, industrial side of Rochelle and back again -- to drop off some cars (also not uncommon).  Our prior experience has been that Rochelle averages a train about every 45 minutes, but even on busy days there will be gaps of time, so this time the frequency was a little below average but tolerable.  We didn't really hit the doldrums until the early afternoon of Sept. 3 (the actual Monday Labor Day holiday itself), when the pickins' were nonexistent for well over an hour and we split to get back into Chicago Metro before the Reagan Tollway (I-88) went nuts.

What did we see in Rochelle that weekend?  Lots of mixed-manifest, including some interesting, older stuff (Southern Rwy. grain hoppers and a Bangor & Arostook std. boxcar rolling by right when my batteries failed [darn!]) --close to 100 percent of these trains bearing some kind of graffiti.  Some of that "decor" makes me more irritable than others.  Of course, the unit coal trains that have to make their runs smoothly to ensure continuity of delivery--and we saw the same number going west (empty) as east (full), all on the UP.  One thing I noticed in these unit trains was that the coal cars did not bear a uniform destination/ownership code of the kind we'd seen before (i.e., "WEPX" meaning "Wisconsin Electric Power Generation-Station").  Perhaps other readers can tell me if this was due to the pressure of a long weekend, or whether there is a real tendency away from uniformly-marked coal trains toward more of a leased/shared concept; it certainly has gotten that way with, if not intermodal "wells," then "skis" of the TTX type. 

What REALLY raised eyebrows was a couple of newish UP'er engines hauling back and forth -- on the BNSF track!  I've never witnessed that before.  Also saw a TFM engine behind an EB B'ner engine hauling intermodal -- something that is getting more common, I gather, especially since K.C. Southern now owns TFM and can detail-out their engines in identical livery with either set of initials, English or Spanish. 

A good deal of intermodal came over both lines, and we noticed a very heavy presence of stacks from the truck-highway operator Roadway, and of course the usual Asian and European shipping lines, plus long sections of IM consisting of Pacer stacks and also the occasional Matson cube, which I previously have found very rare.  Not much UPS, though, and very little K-Line.  It seemed to us that the IM traffic on BNSF was almost completely made up of cubes; I think we saw three or four generic piggy-backs on BNSF and I can't recall any on UP.  Again, this may just be the unusual quality of holiday traffic, or perhaps that the trend -- if there indeed is one -- away from TOFC to cubes-only is intensifying.  Some help out there?  Blush [:I] 

The UP stuff generally ran fast except for stuff that had probably just left UP's "Global III" intermodal facility about a mile west of the double diamonds.  It may be just my impression, but all the B'ners we saw ran like bats out of hell, toward the East as well as the West.  Although there were some exceptions, again the average BNSF train was close to 100 percent IM stacks. 

The RR park was busy, particularly around the middle of each day, but not w

al-in-chgo
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Posted by Dakguy201 on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 5:31 AM
When the Illinois Rail Museum indicates that "the grounds are open" on a specific day what that means is that the outdoor exhibits can be viewed, but the car barns are not accessable.  As most of their really good exhibits are in the barns, that is a problem.  Nevertheless, the amount of stuff they have outside is probably greater than most museums have in total. 

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