A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railway


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C A & E
C A & E
February 2,
1936
(wik)

The Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railway (CA&E), known colloquially as the "Roarin' Elgin" or the "Great Third Rail", was an interurban railroad that operated passenger and freight service on its line between Chicago, Illinois and Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, and Elgin. The railroad also owned a branch line to Westchester.
The CA&E was fortunate enough to be able to utilize the Chicago Transit Authority "EL" trackage to enter downtown Chicago to a terminal called the Wells Street Stub in the Chicago Loop. The railway used third rail for power, instead of a catenary which was usual for interurban railroads, so it fit nicely into the EL system, which also used third rail.(wik)
During the 30's and 40's the "Roarin' Elgin" was providing valuable and fast suburban service to far west Chicago suburbs and Fox River cities. It was even upgrading to more modern steel bodied cars.(rp) The building of the Eisenhower Expressway prohibited easy entry into the Loop and the CA&E also lost it's Forest Park to Bellwood local stops when the RTA extended
C A & E
C A & E
December 6, 1953
to Bellwood. This forced the CA&E to terminate at Des Plaines Avenue in Forest Park in 1953.(wik) Wounded by the increased use of automobiles after World War II, the disruption caused by the construction of the Eisenhower Expresway, and the cutbacks in service capabilities the CA&E quite abruptly ended passenger service in 1957. The deterioration in the quality of their timetables, as shown on the right, attests to the decline.(rp)
History of the Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railway

1902 - Aurora Elgin and Chicago had built from 52nd St. (Laramie Avenue)in Chicago to Aurora Illinois, connecting with urban line into Chicago, (later called the Garfield Park EL)
1902 - Branch lines connected Wheaton with Batavia and Elgin
1905 - EL extended to Desplaines Avenue Forest Park, and AE&C gains access to EL to Wells Street terminal in Chicago Loop
1910 - AE&C branches to Wheaton to Geneva and St, Charles
1919 - AE&C goes into bankruptcy, shedding lines paralleling Fox River
1922 - Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railway emerges from bankrupt AE&C
1926 - Branch line from Bellwood to Westchester built and taken over by Chicago Rapid Transit. CA&E local service east of Bellwood is discontinued
1926 - Samuel Insull takes over CA&E
1932 - CA&E goes into bankruptcy
1932 - Branch to Geneva abandoned
1937-1946 - Improvements to plant and equipment
1946 - Ten new cars replace old wooden ones
1950's - Garfield Park EL demolished for Eisenhower Expressway. Car travel cuts into CA&E passenger base
1951 - Expressway plans would eliminate Wells Street terminal in downtown Chicago, and force CA&E onto Chicago streets during it's construction.
1953 - CA&E cut back to terminate at Desplaines Avenue in Forest Park. Riders lose their one seat ride into Chicago,
1957 - CA&E stops service and shuts down
Western portions of the right of way are now a series of rail-trails called the "Illinois Prairie Path"

Chicago Aurora & Elgin


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
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Copyright Richard Parks, April 25, 2009