Rail Fan Park

The Canadian National Corporation’s purchase of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad (which runs east and west through Park Forest) made headlines in the Chicago area. The EJ&E passes beneath the north-south Metra Rail line near Park Forest’s commuter parking lot. The Village owned a 4-acre undeveloped parcel that had remained undeveloped. CN has built a major railroad intersection on half of this parcel to accommodate rail movements from E-W to N-S. This project is best described as a “train highway cloverleaf interchange.” The existing EJ&E line and the Metra line have a grade separation of more than 25′. (owned by CN). This rail intersection is unique in the United States. The Park Forest Rail Fan Park is currently being built. On the opposite (North) side of the commuter lot, the well-known Old Plank Road Trail (a 22-mile rails-to-trails project) runs from Park Forest to Joliet. The park’s main feature will be an accessible train viewing platform 35 feet high from which to observe the various train movements. Every day, at least 32 trains are expected to pass through this location.

The park will be a destination for telling significant historical stories, in addition to providing spectacular views of train movements. As a new addition to the park, a railway caboose has been installed. A variety of interpretive signs and displays are also being developed in the park’s comfortable rest areas along the boardwalk. “The role of railroads in the development of the Chicago area,” “the story behind the name Old Plank Road Trail,” “the story of the CN Rail intersection,” and maps displaying the Old Plank Road Trail and its many connections are among the stories to be told. Communications between train operators and dispatchers will be monitored by a scanner installed on the viewing platform. The park’s landscape will be entirely native to Illinois and will depict what one would see on a train ride through the state 100 years ago. Odyssey Fun World is no less than a fun place. AND Exterminators is providing its services in Matteson. Or call them at 773-945-0727.

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