Chicago & aurora divisions



Chicago Union Station (CUS) is where the layout begins.  There are seven tracks in CUS which handle all of the first class passenger trains, the mail and express trains and the Suburban Service trains (the dinkies).  During a normal operation session, CUS will receive and dispatch 30 passenger trains.  CUS features non-stop action.  There will be 14 arrivals and departures of dinkies.  The Burlington’s Zephyr fleet is represented by the California Zephyr, the Kansas City Zephyr, the American Royal Zephyr, the Morning Zephyr, the Afternoon Zephyr, the Ak-Sar-Ben Zephyr, the American Royal Zephyr and the Nebraska Zephyr.  CUS will also see the arrival and departure of the Empire Builder, North Coast Limited, Mainstreeter, Western Star, Blackhawk, Coloradoan and The fast Mail.


14TH STREET COACH YARD         Mile Post 1.0

The 14th Street Coach Yard is the scene of non-stop action on the layout.  The six track coach yard has capacity for about 60 passenger, baggage and express cars.  The two switch jobs assigned to the Coach Yard are constantly breaking down arriving passenger trains and assembling the passenger consists of the trains that will depart during the day from CUS.  All of the arriving first class trains are serviced, consist changed as required and then the re-assembled consist are shoved back into CUS.   All of the Suburban Service trains have their power changed and made ready for their westbound departures to Aurora.

One of the most demanding assignments for the 14th Street Coach Yard is assembling the consist for The Fast Mail, train #29, the overnight mail and express train from Chicago to Council Bluffs and Omaha.  The Fast Mail is scheduled to depart CUS every night exactly at 9:00 pm.  The Fast Mail is the mail and express train that receives traffic from all of the eastern railroads that is headed for the west coast.  The consist of The Fast Mail  normally includes mail and express cars from various eastern roads including the Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Central, Baltimore & Ohio, Chesapeake & Ohio, as well as cars from the Railway Express Agency.  The Fast Mail normally has three E-units for power and anywhere from 15-18 mail and express cars.


HALSTED STREET               Mile Post 1.72

Halsted Street is the first station after leaving Chicago Union Station.  All of the Suburban Service trains (dinkies) make station stops at Halsted Street.  Halsted Street is also the location of Union Avenue Tower.  Union Avenue Tower controls all of the movements into and out Chicago Union Station.  Union Avenue Tower also controls all freight trains moving in and out of the 10-track Cicero staging yard.  Union Avenue Tower controls all train movements west of Halsted Street.  As trains head west of Halsted Street they start their run across the Burlington’s famous triple track mainline to Aurora.

Halsted Street is also the home to a number of on-line industries.  Located at Halsted Street are Messinger Paper Company, Plamer Products, Glaser Crandell Co., Borman Conveying Products, Loop Terminal Warehouse, Kellogg Terminal Warehouses Inc.  The Burlington’s Freight House 5 is located at Halsted Street.  There is an active team track at Halsted Street, along with the Wood Street interchange with the C&NW Railway.

There is a daily way freight that switches the industries located at Halsted Street.  This way freight is called the East End Turn.  It originates at Eola Yard.  The East End Turn runs east to Halsted street where it makes the requisite switching moves, runs around its train and heads back west to Eola Yard.  The East End Turn will switch the Zephyr Pit when required and will handle the interchange of cars with the C&NW at Wood Street.


Canal Street 68

KEDZIE AVENUE                                                        Mile Post 3.72

Kedzie Avenue is small switching area that is worked daily by the Kedzie Avenue Local.  The Kedzie Avenue Local originates at Eola Yard and runs east to Halsted Street where it runs around its train and then proceeds west to Kedzie Avenue.  Industries at Kedzie Avenue include Sheehan Wholesale Hardware, Johnson Baking Co., Minden Flour Milling, Dearborn Wholesale Grocer and Zimmerman Coal & Lumber.


HIGHLANDS                                                                      Mile Post 16.30

Highlands is a station stop for all Suburban Service trains.  Highlands is a well photographed location on the prototype CB&Q and countless photos have been taken from the Oak Street bridge which is located just west of the small Highlands depot.

highlands dinkie


Highlands EastHighlands West

Highlands 60s

EOLA YARD                                                                 Mile Post 33.42

Eola Yard is a small five track yard with a capacity for about 50 freight cars.  Just like the prototype, a number of the manifest freight trains set out and pick up cars at Eola Yard.  Eola Yard sends out four way freights every day.  These are the Kedzie Avenue Local, East End Turn, the Sheep Job and the Oregon Turn.  The small engine facility at Eola services all of the locomotives that work the way freights and the yard jobs.  As has been the history of the prototype Eola Yard, the Eola Yard on the layout is always busy and there is always more traffic than the yard can handle.


Eola EastEola West


AURORA                                                                          Mile Post 37.76

Aurora is the end of the Burlington’s triple track mainline and the end of Suburban Service.  All of the westbound dinkies terminate at Aurora.  All of the first class passenger trains make station stops at Aurora.   The Railway Express Agency facility at Aurora is always busy and generally receives 2-3 express days every day.   The boiler plant receives 1-2 hoppers or gondolas of coal every week.  The Aurora depot is switched, just like the prototype, by SW-1 #9153.

CZ in Aurora 68


Aurora Junction is the name we have given to the location where the double track main line to Galesburg separates from the single track main line heads northwest to Savanna.  This is where the double track main line to Galesburg staging disappears from view. 

There are three prototypical industries at Aurora Junction.  The major industry is the Burlington’s large stock pen facility.  In addition to the stock pens are Richards-Wilcox Mfg. Company and the local Sinclair Oil distributor.  All three of these are switched by the “Sheep Job,” a local switch job that originates at the stock pens, switches the industries, goes to Eola Yard and then heads to the stock pens.



When trains head west of Aurora Junction, they head to Galesburg Staging. There are 13 staging tracks in Galesburg.  Seven of these are stub-ended tracks, while six of them are reversing loop tracks.  Galesburg is the western end of the layout.


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