The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway


The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway (EJE) is, sadly, yet another fallen flag now part of the burgeoning Canadian National system. The railroad was a Class II, regional based in Joliet, Illinois and had been in operation since the late 19th century. Today the former EJ&E serves the area and region surrounding Chicago to the northwest and southwest and its strength always lay in its ability to provide switching operations to the dozens of once major Class I systems that reached the Windy City as well as acting as a bypass around it.  During this time the line almost always remained a profitable, albeit rather small, operation.  Canadian National, after a long, drawn out fight with neighboring communities finally purchased the EJ&E in early 2009 for this very reason.  Today, while the road's main line is now an important asset in the CN system classic orange and green locomotives are disappearing in favor of ubiquitous red, white, and black.

Some of the EJ&E's more powerful models are seen here; two SD38-2s lay over at the engine terminal in Joliet, Illinois during August of 1978.

The railroad itself saw a lot of history happen around it throughout its years of operation. For example, because the railroad is located in the area once served by dozens of granger roads it has seen the passing of famous names (a number of which it had connections with) such as the Milwaukee Road, Chicago & North Western, Chicago Great Western, and Rock Island. Also because the EJ&E was located in the Chicago area it had connections with numerous railroads including nearly all of the major Class Is. These include CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, BNSF Railway, now-parent Canadian National, and Canadian Pacific.

To give a brief history of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway, the railroad has its official beginning dating to December 4, 1888 although its history actually goes all of the back to 1884 when the Joliet, Aurora & Northern Railway was incorporated to connect Aurora and Joliet with the Mississippi River.  Although the railroad only made it as far as connecting both cities (Aurora and Joliet) its segment was picked up by the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company of Illinois which connected Valparaiso, Indiana with Joliet, Illinois and then built to Elgin, Illinois to interchange traffic with the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific (The Milwaukee Road). The other half of the EJ&E was the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company of Indiana which connected Griffith and Hobart, Indiana with McCool. These two lines were merged on December 4th of 1888 to form the modern-day EJ&E.

As is typical with railroading of that time, the EJ&E grew and expanded through ownership and takeovers of smaller systems. Some of these systems included the Waukegan & Southwestern Railway; Gardner, Coal City & Northern Railway; Western Indiana Railroad; and the Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway. In total the railroad's system stretched to reach points such as Waukegan, Dyer, Hammond, Caster, and Chicago, Illinois; and Porter, Indiana.  In all, the EJ&E system map formed a rough "L" shape, bypassing downtown Chicago and connecting points east like Porter, Illinois with Joliet to the west and Elgin/North Chicago to the north. Due to the railroad’s age it had an interesting and diverse locomotive fleet over the years. It no longer rosters any steam locomotives although it does still retain a number of classic diesel models such as Alcos and Baldwins. It's unclear whether these will be retained by CN or sold off.

The EJ&E became a hotbed for railfans when it purchased Baldwin's unique and monstrous transfer switcher, the DT-6-6-2000. Seen here is #920 rolling through Griffith, Indiana with a caboose on December 31, 1964. After being re-engined these units remained in service on the railroad for many years.

Diesel Locomotive Roster

Builder Model Type Road Number Date Built/Notes Quantity
BaldwinDT-6-6-2000100-1261946-194827
EMCSW200-2081936-19379
AlcoHH-60020919371
AlcoHH-660210-21219403
AlcoS1213-2171940-19415
EMC/EMDSW1220-246, 2491940-194928
BaldwinVO-660270-2721940-19413
EMDSW1200300-307, 310-324,1960, Ex-KCT, Ex-MP23
EMDTR5Am/Bm308-309Ex-UP2
EMCNW1400-40119372
AlcoHH-90040219371
EMCNC402, 4081937, Ex-Y&N2
EMC/EMDNW2403-443, 446-452, 454-455, 4581939-1952, Some Ex-Monon/UP/AT&SF/LTE/C&O5
EMDSW1001444-4461968 (Ex-LT), 19713
AlcoS2451-4611940-194411
EMDSSB12004511943, Ex-AT&SF1
EMDSW1001444-44519712
EMDSW9004531956, Ex-GTW1
EMDSW1001444-44519712
EMDSW94561951, Ex-P&LE1
EMDSW84571952, Ex-NKP1
EMDSW10004591971, Ex-NOPB1
EMDSW15004601968, Ex-SSW1
BaldwinVO-1000475-4841940-194410
BaldwinVO-1000475-4841940-194410
BaldwinDRS-6-6-1500500-5011949, Ex-B&LE2
EMDSD9600-6051956-1957, Some Ex-DM&IR6
EMDSD18606-616, 851-8521957-1962, Ex-DM&IR/B&LE13
EMDSD38650-65519706
EMDSD38-2656-6751973-1975, Some Ex-B&LE20
BaldwinDR-4-4-1500700A-701A1949, BLW Demonstrators2
BaldwinDR-4-4-1500B700B-701B1949, BLW Demonstrators2
EMDGP38-2700-7041972-19735
EMDSD40M-3750-751Ex-C&O2
EMDSD40M-2752Ex-WM1
AlcoRS2800-8091948-194910
EMDSDM802, 804, 809, 811, 813-815, 818, 820Ex-DM&IR SD9s9

Witnessed here is another of the J's Baldwin models, DRS-6-6-1500 #501 pulling a single boxcar and caboose through Joliet on September 1, 1969.

Steam Locomotive Roster

Road Number/Class Type Wheel Arrangement Quantity/Notes
1, 5, 11, 23, 25, 27, 32Switcher0-6-07
150, 156Switcher0-4-02
300, 302, 312, 329Switcher0-8-04
528, 541, 545, 549, 555Consolidation0-8-05, Rebuilt From 2-8-0s
410American4-4-01
450, 455Ten-Wheeler4-6-02
528, 541, 545, 549, 555Consolidation2-8-05
ABMikado2-8-24



A trio of newer power on the EJ&E, two SD38s and an SD38-2, power a freight at speed through Schererville, Indiana on July 23, 1987.

Finally, for more reading on the EJ&E consider the book Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern Railway by authors Paul Jaenicke and Ralph Eisenbrandt. Typically the "Images of Rail" series by Arcadia Publishing is more noted for its fabulous historic photographs than in-depth information so if you're looking for the latter you may not be interested in the book. However, if this is not really of great concern to you, you should very much enjoy the book. In any event, if you are interested in perhaps purchasing this book please visit the link above which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com.

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