As a kid I would hum the song to myself “Casey Junior Coming Round the Track” and wonder what it would be like to ride a train. All I really knew about them is that they upset my parents A LOT because they held up traffic when they always needed to get somewhere fast. So who knew that there was a city in Illinois that was one of THE main hubs for trains to come through? I present to you Rochelle, IL, a small city, more like town, that time seems to have forgotten, but the trains still keep on coming through as usual.
Now the Seinfeld geek in me just kept singing “Rochelle, Rochelle” as I drove around this dusty town. Amusing myself, which seems to happen more as I get older, I came across a Train Depot area, called “The Ken Wise Rochelle Railroad Park,” where you could park and look at some train cars they have on display outside. If you know me at all, I love me a good monument, exhibit, etc… I am the one who is reading those brown signs on the highway and geeking out at what I can find! Well who knew that I found this beautiful piece of Americana that I think every child, adult, person who loves a good train would flip over!It’s not the train cars on exhibit that are the main attraction, it’s a little shelter area that has audio playing over it. At first it sounds like Astronauts talking on the Moon, conversations and codes being chatted about, and then you realize it’s train conductors communicating and they let you listen so you know when one is about to come riding by!I didn’t think it was going to be as cool as it was…I chatted with a nice couple and their grandchild as we waited for the first train to arrive. 60-80 trains come through this town on any given day, and they come through at bullet speeds! Our first train came in and we all jumped up like little kids, waving as the train whistle blew back at us…it was something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. I felt pride in that moment and I didn’t really even know why, it just felt warm and fuzzy and good. Two more trains would come in from opposite directions in the time I stayed there, about 45 minutes. The tracks cross, which makes this spot so unique and special, that they come from every direction here. Seriously, if your kids like trains, they will LOVE this. They can stay in the Shelter part and wave, or go on the grass around it. There is even an old hobo firepit from back in the day they kept at the spot they would sit to watch the trains go by.It was one of those unique things to do on a lazy day, and I LOVE the unexpected stuff! So check it out if you’re ever in Illinois- its free and its outdoors! (Side note, you could stay in your car and watch the trains come in as well if you’re uncomfortable due to Covid or bad weather). Check out more of my travels through Illinois HERE– enjoy!
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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!