Rondout is a well-known location that is easily reached from downtown Chicago. Take the Kennedy Expressway, then the Edens Expressway, then the Tri-State Tollway (all I-94) to Illinois Rte. 176 (Rockland Road). Head east on Route 176 about a half mile and cross the Metra/CP main line. Before crossing the next railroad, turn right onto a road (Arcadia St.) that goes through an underpass. You can park alongside the road at the entrance to the Metra area around the tower. The elevation above the underpass has a public bike trail at the top. From Arcadia Street, you will see a path leading up to it. Walk up the path to a chain link fence at the top; you will see an entrance through the fence once you're up there. The elevation provides an excellent bird's-eye view of the junction from bridges over both rail lines that cross here.

Alternatively, turn right off Route 176 just before Arcadia at the Metra/CP tracks and park by the underpass there. A No Trespassing sign prevents you from proceeding further. At one time, there was a commuter station at the junction, but Metra closed it in 1979. This made access more difficult and train service to the junction impossible. The nearest stations are not within walking distance.

The Railroads

The double track north-south route through here is the former Milwaukee Road main line to Milwaukee and the Twin Cities. Chicago's commuter train agency, Metra, owns the line south of here and is used by their Milwaukee North Line trains. To the north, the tracks are the property of Canadian Pacific. CP uses trackage rights on Metra to access the Chicago area. Although Metra owns and maintains the tracks south of here, traffic is controlled by CP dispatchers. Crossing Metra/CP here is a single track main line that once belonged to the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern. It terminates at Waukegan, about nine miles to the northeast. Canadian National purchased EJ&E in January, 2009, but sends very little traffic over this portion of the former "J".

A small interchange yard occupies the southwest quadrant of the junction, and another connection is located in the southeast quadrant. Just north of the diamonds, a Metra-owned ex-Milwaukee branch line leads off to the northwest. All Metra trains use the branch and terminate at Fox Lake, near the Wisconsin border. An occasional Wisconsin & Southern (WSOR, formerly Wisconsin & Calumet) freight also uses the branch on trackage rights, as does a CP local. Beyond Fox Lake, WSOR owns the line.

All CP road freights and Milwaukee-bound Amtrak trains continue on the main line north of here. About 20 CP trains can be seen on a given day, most of them headed to/from Bensenville yard, CP's main Chicago yard. Amtrak service features numerous round-trips between Milwaukee and Chicago, as well as the Empire Builder to the west coast.

Nearly all of the action — about 80 trains on weekdays — is on Metra/CP and the Fox Lake branch. CN/EJE sees only light traffic, with some of it running at night. However, an occasional UP coal train on trackage rights can be seen here. CN's main interest in The J extends from Leithton south to Joliet. The Leithton-Rondout-Waukegan segment is not a part of CN's bypass around Chicago, so this segment has not been upgraded, and it has been rumored that this stretch may be sold or abandoned. Rondout Tower still sits in the southeast quadrant but was shut down in 2016. It is owned by Metra but was staffed by CP operators.


Metra: 160.770
EJ&E: 160.350, 161.475, 161.145


The elevated bike path provides a safe and legal vantage point. The elevation once carried interurban trains of the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee branch to Mundelein, but the interurban was abandoned in 1963, and the tracks were taken up soon thereafter. Access at ground level is difficult and not recommended. There is a No Trespassing sign at the tower and another at the underpass along the Metra/CP tracks. Just north of the diamonds on the west side of the tracks, is a platform that was once part of Rondout station. Unfortunately, Metra closed the station back in the 1970s.

For more on the Metra/CP Milwaukee North Line, see Western Avenue. See also Techny at ;North and northwest suburbs (various), as well as Mayfair and Pacific Jct. a North Side (various).

For more on EJ&E locations, see Chicago Heights, Griffith, and West Chicago. See also Van Loon and Pine at Northwest Indiana (various) and Eola at West and southwest suburbs (various). See also Leithton, et al. at North and Northwest suburbs (various).


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