Chicago once had three steam powered commuter rail lines, which later evolved to electric powered elevated lines.


Began in 1881 as the Chicago & Western Dummy Railway, connecting with streetcar line at Madison St. and 40th Ave. (now Pulaski Ave.), and operating primarily in Randolph St. west through Oak Park to River Forest. Reorganized in 1886 as Chicago, Harlem & Batavia Railway, and sold in 1887 to Wisconsin Central Railroad. Wisconsin Central soon introduced commuter service into downtown Chicago, and in 1890 line was sold to Chicago & Northern Pacific Railroad. In 1897, line sold to Suburban Railroad, which replaced steam trains with electric streetcars which connected with the Lake Street Elevated Railroad. And in 1899, Lake Street Elevated trains began using line west of Lombard Ave. in Oak Park. Elevated train service was discontinued in 1901 in favor of the Lake Street Elevated Railroad's new South Blvd. extension. Suburban Railroad streetcar service abandoned in 1903.

The Chicago & Northern Pacific Railroad eventually became part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, with trains using Grand Central Station in downtown Chicago beginning in 1890. The Chicago & Northern Pacific main line is now CSX's Altenheim Subdivision.

Lost Stations
Locations of known stations. Includes zoomable Google maps.


Besides the two commuter rail lines which eventually became Metra's Milwaukee District, the "Milwaukee Road" also operated the Chicago & Evanston Railroad. Service introduced in 1885 between Chicago and Evanston, following the Chicago River approximately as far north as Cortland Ave., and mostly along Lakewood Ave. to Wilson Ave. In 1908, the portion north of Wilson Ave. was leased to the Northwestern Elevated Railroad, whose trains replaced the Milwaukee Road's steam powered commuter trains. The Milwaukee Road continued to operate freight service over the line north of Wilson Ave. until 1920, when the Chicago Elevated Railways began operating the freight service using electric locomotives. This freight service was inherited by the Chicago Transit Authority in 1947, and was discontinued in 1973.

Lost Stations
Locations of known stations. Includes zoomable Google maps.


Predecessor to New York Central Railroad operated local service to the Union Stock Yards and to Kenwood, with service replaced in 1908 with elevated rapid transit service.

Some information for this page is from "The 'L' - The Development of Chicago's Rapid Transit System 1888-1932", by Bruce G. Moffat.