I have blogged before about the Monticello Railway Museum, one of our local hidden treasures. A couple of years back they completed a project to build a replica interlocking tower, named for Richard P. Stair, a now-deceased long-time volunteer. It contains two different styles of original Illinois Central interlocking machines, salvaged from Gibson City, IL and Tuscola, IL.
On some weekends you can get a tour of the interlocking tower, where one of the volunteers will explain how the system works. An interlocking machine is really a kind of analog computer, with connections between the levers that will move multiple switches to guarantee that two trains do not attempt to occupy the same segment of track at the same time. The volunteers, many of whom used to work for various railroads, will also be happy to tell you that the Stair Tower is much too clean and much too comfortable, a dandified version of the dirty and drafty places they used to work. 🙂
7:00-9:00 AM and 4:30-7:00 PM (approximately) are the busiest times on the Chicago-area Metra commuter trains; in most cases, there will be a train about every 10 minutes or less. My older son and I were in time for the morning rush after I was done photographing some morning road traffic, which made for a very happy young man.
The Chicago & North Western built a three-track mainline out of Chicago, and they ran left-hand main, which is unusual for a North American railroad. The arrangement of signals and stations is so costly to change that Union Pacific still runs left-hand main on the former C&NW tracks. Thus it is that the people in this picture are waiting for an inbound train on the center track and ignoring the outbound train passing behind. 🙂
One of the lovely things about my Fuji X100 is that I can get it into tight places where a larger camera won’t fit. In addition to giving me otherwise unobtainable pictures, it makes my kids happy with an environmental portrait of their trains. 🙂