Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by Bob Roberts
I will be in Chicago in early May and I have a bit of time on a weekday for some railfan riding. I really want to see industrial areas (active or decaying) and the requisite rail infrastructure which goes along with that. I have ridden the SouthShore and have ridden Amtrak from CUS to Milwaukee, Detroit and New Orleans (although it was dark for most of the Southern portion of the Metra Electric.

I am looking for some local advice on which lines might be the most rewarding for views of industrial Chicago. Ideally I could ride 10 miles or so from CUS and then return. The map shows a potentially ideal loop to Joliet (Heritage out and Rock Island back) but the schedule on the Heritage line looks awfully sparse (since I'll be starting in the CUS area reverse commutes appear impossible on the Heritage).

Any advice on areas of interest and schedules is much appreciated.
  by doepack
Heritage Corridor is indeed Metra's best route for viewing industrial areas in/around the city, but only if you're willing to work around the sparse service, which you already know. Another possibility is the Union Pacific West line, which runs out of Ogilvie Transportation Center, a couple of blocks north of CUS on Canal. En route westbound to suburban communities in Du Page and Kane counties, this line passes through an industrialized portion of Chicago's west side. Along the way, you'll see Brach's Candy Company, about a mile west of the little-used Kedzie Station. Though the building still stands, it has been abandoned for decades, and devastated by vandalism over the years. Other lines, like Milwaukee West and Union Pacific North, also pass through industrial areas, but they are well west and north of the city.

If time allows, you may want to try CTA's Orange line, between Chicago's Loop and Midway airport. Fairly strong industrial presence along the way on that line...
  by Tadman
Couldn't have said it better. Doepack has it.

One further suggestion: ride the brown line up to Armitage, get off, and walk a mile west. Just before the river you arrive at the Finkl steel forge, a heavy industrial area on the edge of Lincoln Park. If you're lucky, you'll catch the shortline that serves the ex-MILW trackage in the plant. Go on a day above 50-60 degrees and the Cortland Ave doors to the melt shop are open, it's a great show. If you further cross the river, the Metra Clybourn station is there and you can ride back downtown on the UP-N/NW lines.
  by Bob Roberts
Thanks guys! This was exactly the type of information I was hoping for.

There is nothing that this hick from North Carolina likes better than exploring Chicago.