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Railroad Depots and Rochelle Railroad Park 5/25/2022

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I awoke at the Holiday Inn in Aurora and cuddled before we went downstairs for breakfast. After we returned, we did our usual Internet browsing and watched trains from the room's window until check-out time.

BNSF 7280 East came by our hotel with Canadian National (sub-lettered BCOL) C44-9W 4641 in the consist.

BNSF 6771 West was the next train as it started to shower.

BNSF 3270 East came by next.

BNSF 6005 West was the final train of the morning. We packed up and checked out then sat outside under cover and I called Enterprise to pick us up. Fifteen minutes later they brought our car, a Toyota Camry, and we drove over to the Enterprise Office. There, a young black man helped us and about ten minutes later, we were sitting in the car ready to go. I drove us north to US 30 that took us to our first station of this trip.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Shabbona station built in 1872 and relocated in 1973. From here I drove us to Steward.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Stewerd station built in 1896 and relocated in 1976. From here it was an easy drive to the Rochelle Railroad Park where I parked the car in the lot.

Rochelle Railroad Park

The Rochelle Railroad Park is the first park in the nation built just for visitors to see operating trains. The story of railroads in Rochelle begins in 1854 when the Air Line Railroad was completed between Chicago and the town of Lane (Lane was the first name of Rochelle). The railroad later became the Chicago and North Western and today is owned by the Union Pacific. Sixteen years later the Chicago & Iowa Railroad was built through Rochelle in 1870 and it crossed over the Air Line Railroad between 11th Street and 12th Street. The railroad was later called the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy before becoming the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. In January 2005 another name change took place, and even though the holding company name remains the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the introduction of the new rail subsidiary name and logo took place. The railroad is now identified as the BNSF. The original BNSF depot on Main Street was built in 1921 when it replaced the original 1890 Depot. For many years both railroads had daily passenger service to Chicago or the West Coast, but the last passenger service in Rochelle ended in 1971. Today these two railroads daily haul millions of tons of merchandise on at least 80 to 90 trains a day through Rochelle in a 24 hour period. This has made Rochelle a "hot spot" for train watching, drawing visitors from every state in the nation and world wide. Because of the number of visitors Rochelle acquired the land in 1995 and constructed a park just for train watching. The park, which was dedicated August 30, 1998, includes a handicapped-accessible observation pavilion with various vantage sites for the best visitor viewing and photography. Visitors can see locomotives from many different railroad companies pass through Rochelle. They include the Union Pacific and the BNSF. Other units from railroads of the Eastern United States, Mexico and Canada also pass through from time to time. One will also see engines wearing their color schemes from past mergers, mixed within the power of a passing freight. The radio transmissions that you are listening to are actual railroad communications from the dispatcher to the train crews and track workers. We monitor both main lines through Rochelle for the UP and the BNSF. Dispatching originates for the UP in Omaha Nebraska, and out of Fort Worth, Texas for the BNSF.

Our Visit

We walked to the covered pavilion where I started writing the story of the trip to Joliet. Wireless internet and electrical plugs are available.

BNSF 6597 East was the first train through Rochelle.

Next the BNSF local came from the Union Pacific to home tracks.

Union Pacific 6504 East came out of their yard and then left.

BNSF 6258 West with Canadian National Centennial ET44AC 3877 came through Rochelle.

Union Pacific 4393 West was our next train. Then it started to rain hard.


Union Pacific 8565 East came through the pouring rain.

Next the BNSF local power went through.

Union Pacific 7627 East with Norfolk Southern D9-44CW 9552 in the consist.

BNSF 7253 West with Canadian National C44-9W 2980 in the consist with BNSF DPUs 6815 and 8330.

Union Pacific 6041 East was the next train through Rochelle.

BNSF 5038 West came by us on the platfrom.

Union Pacific 9053 West with Norfolk Western ES40DC 7503 in its motive power consist. We waited for this train to clear and we had some more pictures to take in Rochelle.

Chicago and North Western Rochelle station built in 1931. After this we went to the Butterfly Restaurant where I enjoyed a steak and Elizabeth had a salad, broccoli soup and baked cod, and we both had ice cream with chocolate syrup. The prices were very reasonable and Elizabeth had chosen the soup but as the salad was also offered as part of the daily special, she had her 'greens' as well. We checked into the Quality Inn where I finished the Joliet trip story and Elizabeth proofed it. Earlier in the evening, I watched Steve Barry's monthly "Wednesday Night Slides" via Zoom and Elizabeth participated in a Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society meeting. We had had an excellent day but being both tired, we called it a night.