Friday, November 12, 2010

The Roarin' Elgin

The Aurora, Elgin, and Chicago Railroad was an electric interurban running from the Fox Valley area into downtown Chicago. Known as the "Roarin' Elgin", The AE&C was the only electric interurban that ran into the city, initially as far as the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad's 52nd Avenue station, but eventually AE&C trains ran direct to the Loop via the Met's tracks.

World War 1 was tough on the Roarin' Elgin, and the company fell into bankruptcy, emerging as the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin in 1922. By 1926 the company was under the control of Samuel Insull, who also ran the South Shore railroad. Unfortunately the company once more entered bankruptcy, shedding the local lines to St. Charles and Geneva, and not emerging until 1946. Unfortunately, by then the automobile was taking over from rail as the preferred form of local travel, and plans to expand Chicago's L system would have affected the CA&E's ability to use the Garfield Park line into the Loop. The loss of one-seat travel into the Loop (as opposed to transferring to an L train) devastated the line's ridership, and the end came abruptly at noon on July 3, 1957. Riders who had taken the Roarin' Elgin into the city that morning found themselves stranded that afternoon-an unusual occurrence in American railroading.

This sign is in a building in downtown Elgin, near the riverfront, right about where the old tracks used to run. It is one of the few AE&C/CA&E buildings still standing.

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