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Photo above: Chicago skyline 1927

Photo Above: Chicago skyline, more recent.

Chicago Dearborn Station

MP CWI 0.0 Hf

Photo: Dearborn Station, pre 1922


Photos: Left and Right: Dearborn Station, circa 2006 - Max Foltz Photographs -


Photos: Left: Front of Dearborn Station. Right: Faded Lee Jeans sign that appears in many photos of Dearborn Station. -Max Foltz Photos-

Dearborn Station was the northern terminus of the Monon. The station began with the idea that the many railroads headed into Chicago should consolidate their terminals into "union" stations. One of the earliest owners, the Chicago and Eastern Illinois, under its early name of Chicago, Danville and Vincennes, had its first terminal at Dolton, Illinois, about 17 miles south of the center of Chicago. The CI&E was not happy and joined with a contractor and others to form the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad in 1879. The CI&E became the first tenant and soon other railroads joined. Larger facillities became necessary and the five tenants formed the present Chicago & Western Indiana in order to secure financing for the new station.

The first station was in temporary facilities near Archer Avenue. By May, 1880 tracks had been completed from Dolton and State Line Junction to a temporary depot at the northwest corner of 12th Street and State Street. The facillities became inadequate within a few months and they were relocated to a Baptist Church on 4th Street, later Federal Street, midway between Polk and Taylor Streets. This remained the terminal until the present Dearborn Station was completed.

Photo: Fred Harvy Lunch counter and Harvey Girls at Dearborn Station.

The construction started in 1884 and the station opened for business in 1885. The trainshed was completed in October 1885. The station was a three story brick and stone building with full basement fronting 212 feet on the south side of Polk Street. The station had steep sloping hip roofs. Its clock tower had dormer windows and its louvered roof vents made it a replica of an old building in Luxemberg. The first floor was at sidewalk level and used for waiting rooms and ticket offices. The basement had a large restaurant and barber shop. The station had 10 tracks with low platforms between the pairs. The concourse and platform was covered by a wood trainshed, 165 feet by 700 feet with louvered monitor to allow smoke to escape

Photo Left: Santa Fe Super Chief at Dearborn Station most likely in very late 1935 or early 1936. These locomotives were built in 1935. They were the original diesel electric locomotives purchased for use on the Super Chief. The Santa Fe road numbers were ATSF 1 & ATSF 1A. They were rated at 1800 horsepower. Each locomotive was powered by two Winton 201A V-12 engines rated at 900 hp each. The locomotives, although designed and sold by EMC, were actually built by the St. Louis Car Company since Electro-Motive had no facilities to build locomotives at the time. The locomotives were part of a series of prototype designs that in effect became a  prelude to the EMC E-units of 1938. -Photo Gary Dolzall collection, courtesy of Steve Dolzall-



The baggage facility was in a one story brick building 40 feet wide with a 310 foot frontage along the west side of Plymouth Court. The basement contained the heating plant. Express buildings were built to the south. U.S. Mail was handled on the west side along Federal Street in the south end of the West Wing of the main station building.


In 1887 the Santa Fe became the only tenant on the C&WI into Dearborn Station. The 1893 World Columbian Exposition caused many changes to Dearborn in 1891 and 92. An electric plant was added in 1893 which enabled the change from gas to electric lights on the property. All tenant companies had built their own freight houses and team tracks in the vicinity of the station.


Photos Above: Chicago Fire Department battles the 1922 fire. We apologize for the photo quality. -Chicago Daily News Collection-

On December 21, 1922 a fire destroyed the roof attic and third floor of the main building. It was repaired within a few months, but there were drastic changes in the appearance of the building. The steep pitched roofs were replaced with flat roofs surrounded by parapet walls. Four new tracks were added in 1924 along with a new timber platform and canopy on the west side.


Chicago Dearborn Station Demolition

Photo: Dearborn Station, pre 1922

Photo: Dearborn Station, July 8, 1974

The station was closed on May 2, 1971, as the first step of Amtrak's consolidation of Chicago's remaining intercity train operations at Union Station. In 1976 Santa Fe Railroad eliminates three of its seven daily departure routes from Dearborn Station. Four of the five other railroads serving Dearborn Station also end most of their daily runs. In 1976, Dearborn Station's trainshed was demolished and tracks were removed. However, the headhouse building escaped the fate of several other Chicago stations like Central Station and Grand Central Station, which were both demolished.

Photo: August 21, 1972. Empty Train Shed. This station does not serve passengers anymore.


In 1986 Dearborn Station was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Amid much controversy, train sheds are demolished by the Station's ownership. The train station stood abandoned into the mid-1980s when it was converted to retail and office space. The former rail yards provided the land that is now known as Dearborn Park. This Chicago urban community is one of the nation's most successful urban renewal projects and comprises several parks, an elementary school, high rise and mid rise apartment towers, townhomes and single family homes. Today Dearborn Station remains as a landmark that is reminiscent of the railroad era but is now the focal point for a dynamic residential neighborhood.









Photos: Left: Group of travelers pose on the train shed platform. Right: 1930 Chicago Cubs pose on a Santa Fe observation car.


Photos: Left: Dearborn activity 1950. Right: Dearborn probably late 1960's


Photos Left: Monon F3 sit at Dearborn. Right: Dearborn, circa 1972.

Action at Dearborn


Photos: Left and Right: Steam power at Dearborn.


Photos: More steam motive power at Dearborn.

Photo: Steam locomotive #301 crossing Taylor Street. 1911


Photos: Left: C&WI switching Monon passenger train. Right: Passenger motive power at Dearborn.


Photos: Left: Monon passenger arriving at Dearborn. Date is unknown, but it is after 1955. Right: F3 84A on point of a passenger pulling out of Dearborn, last stop, Louisville or Indianapolis.


Photos: Left: Departing Dearborn, 1950's. Right: Arriving at Dearborn. Monon passenger with Business Car #2 on the end.


Photos: Left: Black and Gold at Dearborn. Right: Southbound passenger leaving Dearborn.


Photos: Left: F units and head end passenger equipment. Right: Two F units sit and wait assignment.


Photos: Left and Right: To save money on turning motive power, when Train 5 arrived at Hammond the motive power was changed and an RS2continued the journey.


Photos: Left and Right: Southbounds leave Dearborn.


Photos: Left #11 arriving at Dearborn. Right: #502 on Train #5 as she arrives at Dearborn.


Photos: Left: Steam 272 at the Monon freight house next to Dearborn Station. You can see the Stevens Hotel, later Conrad Hilton Hotel, to the right of the locomotive. Right: CWI switches Monon passenger equipment neat the Annex.

Photo Left: Looking south from the old Monon freight house tracks, part of the house is seen on the left. The freight house on the right is the C&EI outbound freight house. The building dead ahead center is the C&EI inbound freight house.




Outbound departing Dearborn Station. Unknown date, but appears to be late 1940's early 1950's.





Last passenger train arriving at Dearborn, September 30, 1967. This marked the end of scheduled passenger service on the Monon. -Geof Burns Collection-





A sad day in the history of the Monon Railroad. The arrival of the last passenger train, September 30, 1967. This officially ended passenger service into Chicago over the Monon. Conductor Elmer Adams is being interviewed by a Chicago television station. The next day, all the Monon passenger and head end equipment was taken to Hammond.




Dearborn Area
Nathan Miles Photos 2021


Photo Left: The still-standing headhouse of Dearborn Station in downtown Chicago. Looking south.
Photo Right: Another view of the headhouse. Looking southeast.


Photo Left: The interior of Dearborn Station, now a shopping mall. Looking north.
Photo Right: The location of the tracks and platforms, on the south side of the building, is now a city park. Looking north.

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