Old 12-28-2007, 12:28 AM   #1
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Default Help Planning trip to Chicago

I'll be spending somewhere between 5-7 days in Chicago in March and would like a little help form the locals setting up a game plan. I will be staying downtown at the University of Loyola and will be at the mercy of the CTA to get around.

Things I want to get shots of (in descending order);
ex-ATSF mainline

Since I only I have a few days and don't really know anything about the layout of Chicago, I'm willing to sacrifice scenery for high traffic and easy accessibility.

I know that there have been a few threads on general places to go in Chicago, but I'm looking more for someone to help me plan out day by day to maximize what I see.

Thanks in advance for any help, I know I'm asking a lot.

-John Ireland
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Old 12-28-2007, 01:42 AM   #2
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When I am traveling I usually check in with the local Yahoo group; have gotten lots of nice advice for Kansas City and Seattle in particular. I don't know what group covers Chicago.
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Old 12-28-2007, 02:11 AM   #3
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At the mercy of the CTA? You'll be lucky if there still is a CTA in March, the way our corrupt Governor is running things.

Anyway, a few easy to get to places come to mind right away -

Turner Junction - EJ&E Western Sub crosses extremely busy CNW Triple Track Main at grade in West Chicago. About 20 Miles west of the city, 1 block from the Metra station.

Joliet Union Station - CSX/Iowa Interstate Rock Sub (Ex-RI) , CN Chicago Sub (Ex-GM&O) and BNSF Chillicothe Sub (ex-ATSF) all meet. Not all that photogenic, but very busy and you'll get a fair amount of variety. About 40 Miles form the city, but also served by Metra.

Blue Island - Never been there myself, but from what I've seen, another very busy spot on the B&OCT with plenty of IHB and maybe BRC. Also easily accessed by Metra.

Last edited by Cyclonetrain; 12-28-2007 at 02:15 AM.
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Old 12-28-2007, 05:19 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by JRMDC
When I am traveling I usually check in with the local Yahoo group; have gotten lots of nice advice for Kansas City and Seattle in particular. I don't know what group covers Chicago.
The IlliniRail Yahoo! group covers the Chicago area.

Glenn hit the nail on the head in terms of accessible locations if you're at the mercy of public transportation.

If you want to hit high tonnage lines, what I would suggest is either hitting the BNSF Racetrack or UP West line. They are probably two of the busiest lines in Chicago (the Racetrack being the busiest). Both have comprehensive Metra service, and (at least for now, due to the Governor's idiocy) on weekends, there is a weekend pass that allows unlimited rides for $5.00, as long as you don't forget your ticket on your seat (like I've done multiple times).

If you really want to get some railfanning done though, I'd suggest getting a vehicle. Some of the best spots are only accessible by personal vehicle.
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:07 AM   #5
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I agree that if you are relying on public transportation is to railfan in Elmhurst, along with Berwyn or Riverside on the BNSF.

The junction at Blue Island is a good 3/4 mile walk from the Metra Station and in March that might be pretty cold and windy. Most railfans drive because there isnt a way to get out of the elements and standing near the tracks for long periods of time might look a little weird.

Last edited by SDavey; 12-31-2007 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:39 AM   #6
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I was in Chicago back in July, and if you have to rely on Metra, the "Raceway" on the BNSF is probably your best bet. I know UP wasn't on your list, but any Metra station on UP's Geneva Sub makes for a great location with a high train volume.

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Old 12-31-2007, 04:51 AM   #7
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This thread also helps me, because this year, me and a friend are planning a week or two long trip to Duluth, MN by way of Chicago. Places I'm interested in are the many yards (Cicero, Proviso, Barr, Clearing etc) along with some of the best photo locations in the area. By this time, I should (well, actually, I better) have my Nikon D40X kit. Also, a little help for me (sorry to steal your thread John ), but can anyone tell me some of the best photo locations in Duluth and anywhere in between Duluth and Chicago? I'd like to make the most out of this trip! Thanks!

(BTW, for those of you who have seen me on other threads, complaining about my current camera, I am finally having one shipped to me, the Nikon D40X kit including a 18-55 mm and 55-200 mm zoom lens. From what I hear, these cameras are good, so wish me luck)
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