Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway
The Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway, or C&JE, was an electric interurban railway linking the cities of Chicago and Joliet, Illinois. It was the only interurban between those cities and provided a link between the streetcar network of Chicago and the cities along the Des Plaines River Valley in north central Illinois, which were served by the Illinois Valley Division of the Illinois Traction System.
The C&JE was an outgrowth of the Joliet streetcar system, which was acquired by the American Railways Company of Philadelphia at the start of the 20th century. In 1900 a line was built north from Joliet to Lemont, with an extension to Chicago opening in September 1901. The line ran along the DesPlaines River from downtown Joliet to the corner of Archer Avenue and Cicero Avenue on the edge of Chicago, where the tracks connected with the rails of the Chicago Surface Lines.
To promote ridership of its line, the railway built an amusement park called Dellwood Park in nearby Lockport. The park opened on July 4, 1905 at a cost to the railway of almost $300,000. Dellwood Park's carousel, boat rides, picnic areas and sulky races with a grandstand brought up to 15,000 visitors to the park on weekends in its peak years. It operated for more than thirty years; the park burned down in the 1930s.
In 1915 the C&JE became a subsidiary of Central Illinois Public Service Company, which was owned by Samuel Insull. Despite the use of modern suburban-type interurban cars, C&JE ridership plummeted with the onset of the Great Depression and on November 16, 1933 the line was abandoned.
The route of the railway took it into Lemont over what is now New Avenue, then eastward on Main Street, until it diverted alongside a steam railway (the Chicago and Alton, the line on which the funeral train for President Abraham Lincoln traveled to Springfield) to Route 83 where it crossed the river on its own trestle, then immediately headed for the north side of Archer Avenue. The rails ran on the north side of Archer all the way to Willow Springs. The right-of-way is still visible, and for a good distance in Willow Springs exists as a graveled stretch now used for parking. Past Willow Springs the rails ran to either side of Archer; the electrical station and car barns still stand as a catering business, the Landmark, with the old electrical substation still standing. As the rails neared the curve of Archer at what is now First Avenue in Summit the rails came together in the middle of the street pavement. East of Harlem Avenue they again went to the sides of the road, with the line sharing a double loop at Cicero Avenue with the city lines (the loop is still there, modified). The discontinuance of the line made possible the widening of Archer from two lines to four west of Cicero. A short extension left Archer in Summit to head down a long hill for Ogden Avenue, where it met the Lyons streetcar line.
Hilton, George W.; John F. Due (1960). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 339.
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