About this site

About this site

Chicago's flag.

The poet Carl Sandburg (1878–1967) described Chicago as

Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders.

Player with Railroads

It is Sandburg's phrase "Player with Railroads" that is the basis for websites such as Chicago Rail Info.

Beginning in the early days of railroading, Chicago's location at the southern end of the Great Lakes made it a natural terminus for eastern and western railroads alike, leading to the "Windy City" becoming a natural capital of the North American railroad industry.

Today, in spite of major changes to the railroad industry in the late twentieth century, Chicago remains the nation's pre-eminent railroad hub. Railroad mergers have changed the landscape and traffic patterns. In spite of many attempts over the years by the railroads to avoid congestion by avoiding Chicago, Chicago has proven to be irresistible as a hub to the present day. 

The future...

In fact, Chicago continues to have such a compelling draw that the railroad industry, federal, state, and local government have decided to invest in rail infrastructure in and around Chicago rather than avoid the city. In 2003, these players formed a public-private partnership – the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program. CREATE's mission is "making Chicago’s railroad network safer, more efficient and better able to accommodate growth in freight and passenger traffic." The project scope is enormous: over $4.6 billion is being invested in 70 projects aimed at increasing capacity and efficiency and reducing travel times for freight and passenger trains.

The CREATE website observes that one of every four U. S. freight trains passes through Chicago, which comprises 500 freight trains and 800 intercity and commuter trains every day.

With these superlatives and the investments in the future of Chicago railroading, the railroad scene in and around Chicago will continue to evolve. There is little question that Chicagoland will continue to provide observers with much of interest in the years to come.

The Chicago Rail Info mission 

The new Chicago Rail Info team consists of Doug Davidson, Bob Lalich, and Jon Roma. No doubt we will add contributors over time.

The priority of CRI is to remain true to the vision of the founder of the Chicago Rail Junctions website, Bill Gustason. Bill's original mission was to provide accurate information and updates concerning Chicago area railroad infrastructure and operations.

We have plans to expand each of the existing site pages, and add some new topical content. In time, we hope to add historical content to each location covered. The focus on railroad junctions will not be lost.

The new platform offers capabilities that didn't exist when Bill launched the CRJ site in the early days of the World Wide Web. We're still exploring, but two capabilities stand out as significant for the modern-day user of Chicago Rail Info.

  • First, the new site is mobile-friendly, meaning that is more usable than ever on smartphones and tablets that today's mobile railfan pack along with their scanners and camera gear.
  • Second, the new platform allows for reader comments and questions. We're looking forward to greater interaction between readers and the site maintainers.

Welcome aboard!


  1. Thanks for continuing Chicago Rail Junctions. The original site was of great help while preparing my visit to the Chicago area in 2008. This was part of a trip which took me from New Orleans by way of Memphis, Saint-Louis, Kansas City and Mason City to Chicago.

    Some of the photographical results can be seen in the booklet “Een kleurrijk beeld van de spoorwegen in de VS (A colorful view of the railways in the USA)” ISBN 9789071513701. Unfortunately, in Dutch only.

    I am contemplating to return to the Chicago area once more and I hope that this site will be still available.

    Greetings from across the Atlantic


  2. The train counts should be updated. Between COVID and PSR, railroads are running about 20% fewer trains.

    1. Ed, we have been planning to delete the train counts altogether. Even without COVID and PSR, these have always been a moving target, and are thus somewhat burdensome to keep up to date. We would rather omit this information than publish outdated information.


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