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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

West Chicago, Illinois

With kids in the car, the most mundane errands take on a level of excitement unheard of in the B.C. (before children) era. From time to time, I find myself needing to drive through West Chicago, Illinois. As a typical hurried adult, I don't relish the inevitable road delays resulting from the village's frequent train traffic. West Chicago traces its history to the early days of railroads in the mid 19th century. The recent acquisition one of the many rail lines through town by Canadian National has increased the rail traffic and time spent sitting at  crossings.

The perspective changes with train-loving kids in the car. Going through West Chicago is a small adventure because the odds are we will see a train, and a long one at that. Between the Canadian National and Union Pacific tracks that intersect just west of the downtown, a kid will likely see a train with multiple engines and enough box cars, coal cars, tanker cars and flat cars to challenge the counting skills of any preschooler. Because of the angle of the tracks, the noise of the rail cars bumping over the junction can be loud enough to wake sleeping babies. Otherwise, it's a delight to enjoy the enthusiasm of something so simple bringing so much joy to the backseat passengers.

Because of West Chicago's railroad history it has several sights and events that are on our Railroad To-See List. Thanks to Tara at Go West Young Mom for the suggestion to visit the West Chicago Library's children's department train: a steam-engine style train for climbing and pretending by the under six set. The city's museums, West Chicago City Museum and Kruse House Museum, feature railroad memorabilia among their collections and are sites included in the Passport to Adventure program. The city's annual festival, while not strictly railroad themed, does have the appealing name Railroad Days. This year's fest takes place July 12-15 at Reed-Keppler Park. So, there's plenty to bring us back to West Chicago for a stop beyond the railroad crossings.

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