JOLIET UNION STATION
100 Years at The Crossroads of Mid-America


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Historic Joliet Union Station

Joliet Union Station in the late 1960s

As part of the realignment, all three roads combined their passenger facilities at the new Union Station.

The station, opened in October of 1912, was designed by the prolific Chicago architect
Jarvis Hunt, whose work includes Kansas City (Missouri) Union Station, the Union Pacific Railroad headquarters building in Omaha, Nebraska and the Great Lakes Naval Station in North Chicago, Illinois.


As built, Joliet Union Station was at the crossing of the:

  • Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe from Chicago to Fort Madison, Iowa -- now operated by BNSF

  • Chicago & Alton from Chicago to St. Louis -- the C&A was acquired by the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, which in turn was merged with the Illinois Central to become the Illinois Central Gulf. The ICG sold off the line south of Joliet to the short-lived Chicago, Missouri & Western. With the demise of the CM&W, the line was purchased by the Southern Pacific, who in turn was merged into the Union Pacific. Meanwhile, the ICG, which had retained the line north of Joliet, reorganized as the Illinois Central and was eventually purchased by the Canadian National.

  • Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific from Chicago to Rock Island, Illinois -- originally the first railroad into Joliet, with the liquidation of the Rock, ownership was transferred to the Regional Transportation Authority, the mass transit district for suburban Chicago. Just west of the station, at the Des Plaines River, the tracks were leased to the Chessie System and now operated by CSX. The regional railroad Iowa Interstate has trackage rights on this line as well.

Eastbound Santa Fe passenger train pulls into Joliet

The four tracks on the east side were used by the C&A and the AT&SF, while the four tracks on the south side were used by the CRI&P and the Michigan Central. The MC was a tenant in the station from 1912 until 1925 when it discontinued passenger service to Joliet. The MC's “Joliet cutoff” from East Gary, Indiana connected with the Rock Island about one mile east of the station.

As built, there were passenger platforms with canopies between the first and second tracks on both the east and south sides of the station. Stairs from tunnels under the tracks allowed access to the platforms without walking across track one. In later years, the tunnels and platform canopies were eliminated, forcing passengers to cross the tracks to reach uncovered platforms. The station handled passenger, express and mail business, but each railroad had their own facilities in Joliet for freight and less-than-carload (LCL) shipments.

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