Imagine commuting to Chicago by train in the morning only to discover without warning that same afternoon that your Metra line had closed and would never operate again.
Derailing a Railroad
A History of Reliable Service
Car 401 of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad eastbound at Winfield Road.
In 1900 in an era known for powerful railroads and businessmen, a woman named Lydia Rose Gary, widow of Jude Gary, decided she wanted to use the railway to sell dairy products in Chicago. In return for a small strip of land, she skillfully negotiated with the CA&E to add a stop near her property called the Gary Siding stop (now St. James Farm), guaranteeing a minimum of five daily trains traveling each direction to stop for her use.
The Ghost of the CA&E
So the next time you walk, run, or ride through St. James Farm or on the Illinois Prairie Path, remember the CA&E Railroad, Lydia Gary, and that fateful July day when so many commuters had to walk the entire rail line home.
* Banner photo courtesy of Bill Volkmer
* Photo under headline: Car 418 of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad at Diehl Road on Nov. 1, 1952. Photo by John F. Humiston
About Hidden History blogs
From glaciers to mounds, mammoths and farms, each month we highlight the often-overlooked history of our preserves and provide context to deepen your connection to the land, as well as tell the stories revealed to us through the objects and formations left behind. Stay tuned as our blog contributors bring you closer to your community through story every month.