Rochelle Railroad Park
The Rochelle Railroad Park is a city park located in Rochelle, Illinois, where railfans can safely view and photograph trains. The park is situated in the eastern quadrant of the diamond crossing between the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and BNSF Railway (BNSF) mainlines between Chicago and points west.
The two mainlines cross at a location on the southwest side of Rochelle. The UP's (formerly the Chicago and North Western Railway's) mainline travels through the crossing from the southwest to northeast, and the BNSF's (formerly the Burlington Northern Railroad's) mainline travels the northwest to southeast corners.
Before the city of Rochelle built the park, railfans typically parked just short of an interchange siding connecting the two railroads in the northern quadrant of the crossing. The interchange track connects the eastern portion of the UP's mainline with the western portion of the BNSF's mainline. While this parking location allowed the railfans to see a great distance down the western portion of the UP's mainline, many vehicles were parked too close to the interchange track to be safe if a train were to use the interchange. Additionally, there was no protection to keep trespassers off the tracks themselves.
The city chose the eastern quadrant of the crossing in which to build the park. Many factors went into the selection of the eastern quadrant, but by using it, the city was able to erect an elevated viewing platform with a gazebo-style roof, picnic tables, an area to build a re-creation of a hobo jungle, a display of strap rail track, a small preserved Whitcomb switching locomotive (manufactured by the Whitcomb Locomotive Works of Rochelle), and a paved parking lot. The amenities are further enhanced with public restrooms, vending machines, wireless internet and a small model railroad shop.
There is even a railroad scanner installed with speakers in the picnic area so visitors can hear the radio traffic on the two railroads. Since both railroads have defect detectors nearby to the west of the crossing that signal train statuses over the radio, the scanner is often an indication of when an eastbound train is about to appear at Rochelle. The presence of westbound trains is indicated by nearby grade crossing signals to the east of the park. Trains Magazine operates an internet webcam atop the viewing platform's roof that photographs every train to travel through the crossing during daylight hours.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rochelle Railroad Park.|
- Rochelle Train Photos Pictures of The Rochelle Railroad Park
- Rochelle Train Park Blog About the Happenings at the Rochelle Train Park
- Rochelle Railroad Park official website
- Rochelle Railroad Park Roadside America article on the Rochelle Railroad Park
- Folkston Junction Florida Times-Union article on other rail parks
- Trains Magazine's Rochelle Webcam (requires a free registration to view current images)