Kankakee (Amtrak station)
|Address||199 South East Avenue
Kankakee, IL 60901
|Connections||River Valley Metro|
|Platforms||1 side platform|
|Passengers (2013)||24,067 8.9%|
Illinois Central Railroad Depot
|Location||Kankakee, Illinois, USA|
|NRHP Reference #||00000409|
|Added to NRHP||April 28, 2000|
The Kankakee Amtrak station is a train station in Kankakee, Illinois, United States served by Amtrak, the national railroad passenger system. The station was built in 1898 as an Illinois Central Railroad depot, and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the year 2000. By the late 1980s, the depot had fallen into disrepair. The city purchased the building from the Illinois Central in 1990 and finished a full restoration eight years later. The $1 million project was funded with $750,000 in city funds and private donations.
The northern end of the station is home of the Kankakee Railroad Museum. The station is a flag stop for the City of New Orleans. In Steve Goodman's song (popularized by Arlo Guthrie), which shares its name with this line, the train departs the Kankakee Station.
The Illinois Central Railroad Company was founded in 1851. By 1853, newly founded Kankakee, Illinois was connected Chicago, 56 miles (90 km) away. The first train pulled into the station on July 11, 1853. The rail connection reduced the travel time between the two cities from six days by wagon to three hours by rail. It also provided Kankakee with access to industrial resources in the north-south direction; the city was no longer dependent on the east-west Kankakee River. Kankakee was incorporated two years later.
The original station was a small, wood-framed station. However, by the 1890s, it had fallen into disrepair and no longer conformed to city ordinances. The Illinois Central agreed to commission a new train station in 1897, which was completed the next year. The first train arrived at the new station at 7:30 a.m. on January 10, 1898. Frank Lloyd Wright traveled through the station on several occasions while designing two houses in Kankakee, remarking of the new building, "not a style of my choosing but good enough for the community."
Telephones were installed in 1902, replacing the original telegraph wires. These lines were moved underground in 1911. Rail use declined in the 1930s, coinciding with the Great Depression and the increased use of automobiles. Furthermore, the Kankakee Electric Railway Company, which provided interurban service to the station, went out of business in 1933. The station saw a resurgence in the 1940s during World War II, when personnel training at Chanute Field in Rantoul would come to Kankakee on leisure time. The station has remained in continuous use since 1898.
River Valley Metro: - Routes 1, 7, & 8
- "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2013, State of Illinois" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Kankakee County Listings at the National Register of Historic Places
- Great American Stations. Accessed March 27, 2013.
- "Welcome". Kankakee Railroad Museum. 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
Media related to Kankakee (Amtrak station) at Wikimedia Commons