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Metra's Unbuilt STAR Line

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The Metra STAR ( Suburban Transit Access Route ) was a proposed, but unbuilt railroad project, which would have been the first Metra line to exclusively serve the suburbs of Chicago, and connect to multiple Metra lines.  Here's a rendering of Diesel Multiple Units that were proposed to run on the STAR. Metra has since taken this site offline, but the Wayback Machine still has the page. This would have been key to connecting the Metra system outside of Downtown, as each individual line that makes up Metra runs from the suburbs in one direction into the city, i.e. a hub and spoke system . Thus, there are very few connections between individual Metra lines outside of Downtown Chicago. Here's an unofficial Metra Map showing how disconnected the system is. ( Wikipedia Commons ) That wouldn't necessarily be a problem if there was adequate bus transportation between individual lines, but despite being individual parts of the Regional Transportation Authority , Metra, Pace and t

O’Connell Airstrip at La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve in Quebec

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Guest blogger Alain Bernier sent us the blog on an abandoned airstrip in western Quebec off of Route 117. Like many small airstrips over the last half-century, it closed off due to a lack of use. Hope you enjoy exploring more of what the Quebec area's abandoned places have to offer! O’Connell Airstrip, La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, Quebec, Canada  © Alain Bernier 2021  The O’Connell Airstrip , also known as the Lac-des-Loups ( lake of the Wolves ) airstrip, is an abandoned landing strip located at Le Domaine in the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve in the  province of Quebec, Canada. Although the “ lac des Loups ” was officially renamed “ lac Jean Péré ” in 1935, folks continue to refer to it as the “ lac des Loups ”. The O’Connell airstrip should  not be confused with the closed O’Connell Seaplane Base (ICAO: CSB9) that was located on  nearby lake Jean-Péré.  Hebert J. O’Connell, a local civil works contractor i , built, owned, and operated the expansive  O’Connell Lodge on the shor

California Ice and Coal Company's Ice House Spur in Antioch

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This tree line in the photo below, located in Antioch, IL appears to be just any old patch of trees, but it actually marks part of the right-of-way of a long abandoned railroad spur. Yep, Railroad Lines are everywhere.  (Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places Photo) The California Ice and Coal Company operated an ice house in Antioch, using Channel Lake and Lake Catherine for production, and shipping via railroad. Almost no trace of this spur exists, but the neighborhood to the east of Lake Catherine is to this day known as the California Ice and Coal Subdivision.   Ice houses  on winter lakes are a remnant of a time before refrigeration, and would be the only source of ice during the summertime for most places outside of the Earth's poles.  Ice house spurs also existed in Fox Lake and Round Lake. Interestingly, this leads to some interesting deeds and requirements of property ownership. On our Facebook page , Keith Johnson commented that, "when I bought my first house in Fox

Hillcrest Amusement Park - A Picnic Grove Turned Logistics Park

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Hillcrest Park , in unincorporated Lemont, IL was a small picnic grove with a few small amusement park rides, similar to many other tiny parks that operated early in the 20th century. By the time it stopped operating in 2003, it was one of the few remaining relics of a bygone era of amusements. It was far smaller than even Kiddieland , its nearest theme park equivalent, which also closed down early in the 21st century. Despite its very  small size at less than 60 acres in size (and most of that was just picnic grounds), it actually housed a roller coaster recognized as an ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) Coaster Classic . The requirements for this distinction can be found in the link. The park operated from 1952 to 2003, and was most famous for its Little Dipper wooden coaster (which is now at Little Amerricka in Marshall, WI ). But it also had a small railroad running within it as well. Paul Drabek noted the Little Dipper, railroad, and a carousel among the amusement rides, but was

You Almost Got Your Kicks on Route 60

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US Route 66 was one of the original US Highways , being designated in 1926 along with the rest of the original routes. But before its designation, there was a tremendous controversy over its numbering, as there were over numerous highways early on in the system's creation. Missouri Highway Map, c.1926 showing the proposed US-60 through the state. Like with any government project as vast and complex as the US Highway System, it is the product of numerous compromises and debates over numberings, routings, alignments, costs, and numerous other whims of those in Congress who ultimately approved the system. In the early 1920's, the named Auto Trails were giving way to a network of then-modern highways to connect the nation through automobiles as the railroads had done decades earlier. 1926 Illinois State Highway Map , showing US-66 as IL-4 still. By 1928 , US-66 was added to the map. The numbered system would have the longest and most important cross-country routes ending with a

Milwaukee Road's Pacific Extension: America's Longest Abandoned Railroad

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Milwaukee Road's Pacific Extension  might very well be the most famous, or infamous, abandoned right of way in the United States, and it is undoubtedly the longest, although short stretches of the railroad are still in use. Combined, it is one of the world's longest abandoned railways , and the incredible terrain that it crossed means that even long after it ended service, it is still being documented and reused as part of numerous trails. It was one of the first lines I traced , seeing it on  abandonedrails.com , and immediately being curious about it. Today we go in depth into exploring this abandoned rail line, and what it looks like today. Map of the Milwaukee Road's Electrified Pacific Extension via:  TrainWeb.org Aside from its length, the road traveled some of the most beautiful terrain in this country, and much of the disused right of way is now rail trails, such as the  Route of the Hiawatha , or the trail formerly known as the  John Wayne Pioneer Trail . I've

Griffith, Indiana's Mammoth Railroad Intersection

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Griffith, Indiana is the site of a railroad junction between several tracks of railroads today, and yet it pales in comparison to how the junction looked when two more railroad lines crossed here. The Broad Street crossing when all five railroads crossed 11 tracks forming 14 diamonds - the Michigan Central, Grand Trunk, Erie, Elgin Joliet & Eastern and the Chesapeake & Ohio. The photo is from the 1930s. ( NWI Times ) The Michigan Central Railroad would be the first railroad through the area in 1854, running between Joliet and Gary, IN, only to be followed by the Grand Trunk Railway, Erie Railroad, Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway, Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, Erie and Kalamazoo, Michigan Southern, Chicago and Erie, and others. Eventually, the diamonds would look like this: 1953 Highland, IN Map. ( USGS ) Today, you'll still see tons of railfans visiting the area, in addition to numerous trains running on an almost constant basis. A  small train museum exists  on the ea