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A 261 Summer / Deval Junction, Des Plaines, Illinois Hot Spot

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All pictures displayed are video captures from actual program footage unless noted.

Program 121
A 261 Summer / Deval Junction, Des Plaines, Illinois Hot Spot

The summer of 1998 was a rather lean year for mainline steam excursions across the U.S. One exception however, were a series of excursions led by Milwaukee Road S-3, 4-8-4 #261, including a months worth of trips around the upper Midwest as part of Burlington Northern Santa Fe's Employee Appreciation Special.

For this show, we rolled more tape using more videographers, covered more territory, and interviewed more people than we ever have for any of our previous programs. We took a couple of train rides and had a great time in the process.

Our story begins with the 261's arrival in Chicago for a pair of excursions from the Windy City to Galesburg for Railroad Days. The big 4-8-4 returns to Chicagoland later in the summer for BNSF's Employee Special operating over former Burlington Northern and Santa Fe mainlines. Finally, we catch up with the 261 again as it passes through Sioux City, IA on the way to Sioux Falls, SD.

Videotaped June through September 1998.

Then we check out Deval Junction, located just west of downtown Des Plaines, Illinois. This uniquely shaped junction features trains from the Union Pacific, Wisconsin Central, Metra, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National.

Videotaped in November 1998.

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Welcome To Chicago. Milwaukee 261 enters Chicagoland on the Wisconsin Central. The train stopped briefly at the WC offices at the yard in Schiller Park.

The next morning the ride over BNSF's high speed triple track mainline began on a rather slow note as the 261 crept out of Union Station. Inching through the slip switches located at the throat to the station, the 261 crosses over a couple of tracks just below the Roosevelt Road bridge.

Out on the high iron, the heat of the day and the speed of the train were both on the rise. That evening, a problematic bearing sidelined the engine and the excursion train returned to Chicago with diesels. Diesels also pulled the next day's excursion to Galesburg as well, where a healthy 261 again was placed on the point and led the train home.

Welcome To Chicago - Part Two. The 261 with the BNSF Employee Appreciation special in tow, heads east on BNSF's Chicago - Savanna mainline.

The size of the 261's massive boiler is apparent in this view the next morning at Cicero, Illinois. The whole train now out of the yard and on the mainline. The 261 will pull the special in the eastbound direction with an BNSF SD70MAC.

The third and final segment of our 261 Summer begins at Sioux City, Iowa. Here the 261 climbs up the Nebraska side approach to the Missouri River bridge. The special started this morning in Lincoln, Nebraska and will end up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Halfway to Sioux Falls the train made a series of photo runbys.

The trackage at Deval Junction forms a triangle with the apex pointing north. Here an eastbound Metra train on Union Pacific's former Chicago Northwestern Northwest line is slowing as it approaches downtown Des Plaines.

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