Old 10-21-2010, 08:29 PM   #1
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Default Chicago Railfanning Help

Hi there,
I know theres a couple of Chicago area fans on this board, so I figure maybe someone can answer some of my questions here. I will be visiting family over thanksgiving break this year and will have 4 days of railfanning (thanksgiving I guess I will be of course not be out, and no trains running anyways)
First a few general questions, the weather: I've heard late November is pretty bad weather wise, realistically can I expect atleast one or two days of sun? I know the weather patterns are completely different up there than down here in the south. If it must be cloudy, is there a fair chance of snow?
Since it will be thanksgiving, what is the slowdown like there on the class 1's and the IHB? How early will it start and how late will it end? I know here after Christmas, the 26th is a great day to railfan, and hoping the day after thanksgiving there will be the same up there.
While alot of it is weather depending, my main goals are to get as much CN and CP fallen flag power while up there, IHB following close behind, shooting BNSF's remaining fallen flag stuff, UP being dead last due to they have very little fallen flag stuff left (I dont even count the patched stuff it looks so terrible), well that is not including CSX and NS which coming from Georgia I definitely don't want to see.

Here's my current plan though of course subject to change, please post input on these spots or other ones you think would be better. I will not have a car so I will be riding the Metro or Metra everywhere, I will be staying out in Aurora, IL. This will probably be a bit of a long post so bear with me.

Arrive into O'Haire at 9, ride the Metro + Metra to Franklin Park, I figure that puts me there around 11 thinking realistically.
In Franklin it seems I can get all the CP and Metra traffic into Benesville from the Metra at the platform, but is there a good spot to shoot CN as well without missing the CP stuff? It does seem there is atleast one transfer job from the CN into Benesville here, as well as BNSF and UP, and IHB, so seems for a good spot for variety.
Also I've seen pictures of the last two Metra F40C's there, is the old Milwaukee still their primary stomping ground? I would love to get one of those beasts in service, they cant be too long for this world.

Not sure what Ill do what day but one of these days I would like to ride down to Blue Island and Homewood, I know CN keeps alot of good power there and its easy to get to by Metra Electric, also can shoot the deadline and maybe a WC unit or two hiding back there. Seems that I will get my fill of IHB at Blue Island though Ill have to put up with shooting Chicken **** Xpress, and Ive heard that CN does not run many trains through Blue Island since getting the EJE.

The other day I'm not too sure what I want to do and am open to opinions, the racetrack looks good but it seems all I would see there is a parade of Metra and BNSF GEVO's, would like to see the famed Hudson Bay SD50's but I hear those only run on Sunday and its a summer only thing since they run late in the day.
Sunday will of course have to be around Chicago, since I fly out in the evening, I figure another few hours in Franklin park would be good but open to suggestions. I would absolutely love to shoot the Chicago Terminal (and I figure since their trains have to run 5 mph down the street I can chase them on foot ) but I figure getting them running will be hard, thats another subject though and Ill post separately about that in the shortline forum.

One last question, about Metra. Ive heard the metra cops are real bad about harassing railfans, especially on the Rock Island line, if I have a valid ticket am I allowed by the rules to take photos?

Thanks in advance for the help. Any suggestions or advice is welcome.


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More wedge shots of blue HLCX SD60's http://nikos1.rrpicturearchives.net/

Video wedge shots of blue HLCX SD60's
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Old 10-21-2010, 09:25 PM   #2
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Not sure about what you would think about it but places around Union Station might be good. Especially like Roosevelt Rd. Also this is old, but helpful.
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Old 10-22-2010, 02:48 AM   #3
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From my trips, I've generally noticed that the stuff you came not to see has a way of plastering itself everywhere. It's Chicago and so...well, you never know what you're going to see. So if you dont want to see CSX, good luck. You'll get it in Bensenville, the Race Track, and everywhere else most likely.

But on a serious note, I prefer Dolton 10 times more over Blue Island. And yes, the CN through Blue Island is dead as can be. In all of my visits I probably saw five trains over the former GTW. After you get the few good shots at BI (with the bridges and maybe an interesting angle with the crossing tower) it gets boring. Dolton isn't exactly amazing in terms of scenery, alot of posts and wires all around. But for trains its great, plus you can sit in the car and not miss anything. The IHB runs through pretty often, and with the IHB comes CP power,CN,BNSF,UP, and well...you get the idea. The UP is very erratic in my visits, with many of the trains being CSX trains from Danville heading to Clearing. The CSX at Dolton is generally pretty busy, consisting of a handful of manifests each way and the numerous unit trains. BN powered coal trains, a million Q1XX's, and a good amount if Y trains going to and fro Barr Yard. Plus the bottle trains, which run from what I recall twice a day with NS geeps.

Not that you even want to talk about CSX, which I don't blame you. I'll leave the rest of the intensive details to people who actually live in the area.

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Old 10-29-2010, 11:44 AM   #4
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The weather will be what we get, Its vary hard to say. Look for windy days if its out of the NW it will be cold and a 1 in 10 their maybe snow of some amount. On Friday, AM the race track ex Q 3 track main you will want if Metra BNSF trains interest you and the ex MILW lines out the North side of Union in the afternoon, Thats what I would do but there so much your head will spin. I would start Emailing fans that live there and see if someone wants to go out and shoot and you will see so much more that way and not wast time. And I will be 550 rail miles West of there.
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Last edited by milwman; 10-29-2010 at 11:52 AM.
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