22.4.06

TO THE LAND OF LINCOLN. The Illinois Department of Transportation is requesting appropriations to upgrade the Chicago-St. Louis corridor with faster trains and a few more trips each day. Destination:Freedom quotes a charmingly misinformed Watertown, Wisconsin newspaper editorial seeking an extension of the Hiawatha service with through trains from Watertown to St. Louis. (At one time, the St. Louis-Chicago service was through-routed with trains turning in Milwaukee. Delays on the south end delayed the Chicago departures for Milwaukee, and Milwaukee commuters protested. Some years later, selected Hiawatha trains went as far as Watertown to relieve road congestion during an expressway repair. Those trains were not well-scheduled for west-suburban commuters, although a few schedules were convenient for family outings to eateries in Brookfield or Oconomowoc. Perhaps some stories of these trains another day.)

This month's trip report is an inspection of the service as far as Springfield before the 110 mph service and the added frequencies commence.


Apparently when the private-party season ends, the "Great Hall" in Chicago's Union Station reverts to a waiting room. Most commuters use the escalators directly opposite the commuter train concourses and miss the down-and-out catching naps on the benches.


This passage under Canal Street leads to the concourse, which, despite a remodeling to separate the commuter and long-distance concourses, is still cramped and subject to crowding, especially at holiday travel peaks.

The St. Louis corridor does not yet have the frequency or the precision of the Hiawatha service but the three-Horizon-one-Amclub (food service and coach on one end, custom class on the other) are well-loaded and the train crews cheerful. Cub fans are enroute to St. Louis for their dose of frustration. Union Pacific has moved most of its St. Louis-Chicago traffic to other routes. The only freight train interference is at crossings leading into the Grand Trunk and CSX yards. There's enough recovery margin that the train is on time into Lincoln and Springfield.


The locomotive is not as pretty as an E unit, the time signal no longer comes over the telegraph, and the watches themselves may receive a signal from the atomic clock, but conductor and stationmaster at Springfield still compare their watches.


The Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices downtown.



Across the street from Lincoln & Herndon is the old capitol building, flying a 36 star flag.


The current capitol building is a few blocks from the old downtown, on the other side of the Alton Union Pacific tracks. This is Illinois, so be impressed by the hill it sits on.


From the west, the cruciform building plan is evident. Illinois is a larger state than Wisconsin, with a legislature that trades in many more favors, but the capitol building itself is smaller than Wisconsin's. There appear to be fewer state office buildings in the immediate vicinity.


The whitetail deer is the Illinois state animal (what, not a polecat?) and this sculpture at the capitol visitors' center might include parts salvaged from cars rendered inoperable by collision with a deer.


Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Dana-Thomas house in the early 1900s. The copper guttering is pretty but appears to be a maintenance nightmare. Amtrak runs through the alley on the one jointed-rail track shown here. (At one time there were two tracks through this alley.)


President-elect Lincoln and family lived in this house until early 1861. The National Park Service conducts visitors through it. The nearby blocks are closed to automotive traffic with roads maintained in something resembling 1860 conditions.


The President-elect made his farewell speech from a train about to leave on what was then the Great Western Railroad (no Grange Hall here) for Washington, D.C. Norfolk Southern (ex-Wabash) trains now use the tracks.


The former Illinois Central station, which was in use until Amtrak Day, is having its clock tower restored as part of a conversion into a museum. This station is next to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

It was too nice a day for me to spend much time inside, but I did tour the museum.


Generals McClellan and Grant confer. (Yes, I at first wondered what General Sherman was doing there.)


And look who is lurking at the Executive Mansion.

The museum collection includes a number of broadsheets and cartoons critical of President Lincoln. The most venomous of the broadsheets make this article a masterwork of lucidity, and the cartoons render this tame.

It was time to go home, and the up Ann Rutledge was on time despite having to contend with Union Pacific dispatching all the way from Kansas City.

At McLean, the train had to take the siding.


The color-position lights will not guard this interlocking much longer. The Texas Eagle has a clear road.


In due course, it shows up.


The color-position at the east siding switch protects the Eagle. Note that the pole lines and electrical lockers reflect the onetime double track through here.

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