Rondout Tower, Illinois, June 12, 2013


Visions of Milwaukee Road Hiawatha

It’s impossible for me to visit Rondout Tower and not see the ghost of a streamlined F7 Hudson blasting by with the Hiawatha in tow. Ghosts only; I’m not nearly old enough to have witnessed such a spectacle.

On Wednesday 12, 2013, Chris Guss and I paused on the footbridge to have a late lunch and watch a couple trains. Nothing unusual, just an outbound Metra train for Fox Lake and Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle Empire Builder a few minutes later.

Rondout Tower
Metra F40PH 115 leads a Union Station-Fox Lake commuter train at Rondout Tower on June 12, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.


Rondout Tower
Amtrak number 7, the westward Empire Builder blasts by Rondout Tower on June 12, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Back when the Hiawatha raced between Chicago and Milwaukee, Milwaukee Road was operating the fastest regularly steam powered trains in the world and the famous for its order, ‘Slow to 100’ for the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern crossing at Rondout.

Today, maximum speed on the line is 79 mph. Occasionally someone mentions ‘progress’. For me this abstract concept has little meaning. Change, certainly.

Someday, change will mean that Rondout Tower, too, will only be a ghost.

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