On September 19-22, 2013, I attended the Soo Line Historical Convention in Crystal Lake, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. On Thursday evening, September 19, I presented a picture show about "The Blueberry Line." Friday was dedicated to a bus/train/bus tour of railroad sights. We bussed to Antioch to catch a Metra train. Here is the depot.
Here comes our train. It will pull into the yard, get a quick cleaning, and the shove back to pick us up.
This is the interior of the commuter cars.
At Deval, there is a crossing of 2 railroads, on a wood bridge, over a highway, and is the only one in the United States.
We are traveling on Canadian National tracks, the same tracks that run from Superior to Stevens Point through Ladysmith. I missed a picture of the new connecting track to the EJ&E. We get off the train at Schiller Park and load onto a bus for the remainder of the trip. First stop is a visit to the Franklin Park Tower. It has been moved but is restored to operating condition.
The upper level contains the levers and the interlocking which protected the switches and signals from incorrect positions.
Next stop was the immense Bensenville Yard of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. These pictures are taken through a tinted glass bus window so are dark and a little blurry.
There was even a Soo Line diesel at the gate to greet us (an unplanned event).
The Union Pacific Railroad passes over the Bensenville Yard. Interestingly, the UP track formerly passed through the south side of the O'Hare Airport but was recently moved along the CP track so the airport could extend a runway.
Their turntable is still used to turn engines.
The old enginehouse has been demolished and this structure is used.
This was the CP Hump Switching Yard but last year was converted back to the traditional "Flat Switching" Yard.
The gigantic yard is impossible to capture in photographs but here is part of it. Notice the autorack cars. The CP interchanges about 200 of these cars a day.
Next stop was Veterans Park where a neat small steam switch engine was located along with a Milwaukee Road passenger coach and caboose. The steam engine was originally used at the Studebaker Factory in South Bend, Indiana.
The steel rib-side caboose was the last one built in Milwaukee Road's shops in Milwaukee.
We visited Des Plaines Hobby Shop for shopping and lunch. (I didn't buy anything). Then we visited the restored Mundelein depot which now houses the Fort Hill Historical Society. The depot was formerly Soo Line.
And they have this neat CB&Q Waycar (caboose).
Friday evening was dinner and a Swap Meet and Soo Line slides. Saturday was more Swap Meet and Special Interest Sessions. Saturday evening's banquet featured speaker Ed Burkhart. On Sunday morning we headed home, stopping to visit George Forero's O-Gauge and HO-Gauge layouts. Here's his beautiful 3-rail O-Gauge layout.
His double deck HO layout is still under construction.
And it features the Long Island Railroad where George grew up (and of course some Soo Line).
The O-Gauge is on the upper level in the basement and the HO on the lower level and they are connected by a stairs.
On the way home we found this neat "critter" in Zenda, Wisconsin that is used for switching.
The trackage is Wisconsin Southern, formerly Milwaukee Road. This neat Milwaukee switchstand with the chevron has had a large green reflector added in deference to the small green diamond that the Milwaukee had on top of the switchstand.
We took a little side trip to cross the Wisconsin River on Wisconsin's last free ferry. It holds 15 automobiles, operates 24 hours a day, and takes about 7 minutes to make a crossing.
Note the cables that the ferry uses to cross the river.
It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Rob Becker of Hudson traveled with me and was my roommate.
The Wisconsin Southern Railroad bridge parallels the ferry route but no trains crossed while we were there.
On the south side of Baraboo we found this C&NW caboose and Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western car. No details.
Another fun railroad trip. Next year this Convention is only 40 miles away--in Ladysmith.