EJE No. 665, an EMD SD-38-2, at West Chicago, IL on December 14, 1987.

(Photo by Roger Puta, Courtesy Marty Bernard, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


EJ&E logo.


The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway (reporting mark EJE) was a Class I railroad, operating between Waukegan, Illinois and Gary, Indiana. The railroad served as a link between Class I railroads traveling to and from Chicago, although it operated almost entirely within the city's suburbs, and only entered Chicago where it served the U.S. Steel South Works on the shores of Lake Michigan. Nicknames for the railroad included "The J" and "The Chicago Outer Belt Line". At the end of 1970, the EJ&E operated 164 miles of track and carried 848 million ton-miles of revenue freight in that year alone.

On September 26, 2007, the Canadian National Railway announced that it planned to purchase a majority of the EJ&E, leaving a portion of the line in Indiana to be reorganized as the Gary Railway. The purchase was approved on December 24, 2008, by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, and the deal was consummated effective February 1, 2009. In the years immediately following the merger, the railroad existed as a subsidiary of Canadian National, and EJ&E locomotives that were repainted into CN colors were sub-lettered for the EJ&E.

On December 31, 2012, Canadian National announced that the merger of the EJ&E into Wisconsin Central Ltd. (Another railroad subsidiary of CN) had been completed, and would take effect the following day. On January 1, 2013, the EJ&E effectively ceased to exist, 124 years to the day it was founded.


Hopper car from the Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway.

(Internet Archive Book Images, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern was created when several local railroads in Illinois and Indiana merged throughout the end of the 19th century. The systems that would make up the EJ&E included the Joliet, Aurora & Northern Railway (which dates back to 1884) and Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company of Illinois. The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway began operations on December 4, 1888, through the merger of these two systems. After the creation of the modern day EJ&E the railroad expanded by purchasing several other smaller lines including the Waukegan & Southwestern Railway; Gardner, Coal City & Northern Railway; Western Indiana Railroad; and the Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway.

The EJ&E moved to serve industries in the Hammond-East Chicago-Whiting industrial district by acquiring trackage rights in 1894. However, construction of the present line to Gary, Whiting and South Chicago was initiated in 1899 by the Griffith and Northern Railway. Connections with the Chicago, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway and the Western Indiana Railway further penetrated the district, although the EJ&E subsequently acquired both lines. In 1898 the EJ&E merged with four other non-railway companies to form Federal Steel Company. In 1901, United States Steel Corporation was formed from a merger that included Federal Steel, and U.S. Steel thereby acquired the railroad.

The railroad's passenger services began with the start of operations in January 1889.  The railroad stopped operating passenger trains in 1907, but continued passenger service until 1909. During those two years, passengers would be transported by caboose.


 Map of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway (red) as of 2008, with Canadian National Railway lines in blue, pre-existing CN trackage rights in purple,

and the proposed Gary Railway in thin green (far east end of the EJ&E).

(NE2 assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The EJ&E underwent dieselization relatively early. In 1937, the railroad acquired its first diesel-electric locomotive, an EMC SW switcher, which was designated EJ&E No. 200. Over the next 12 years, the entire steam fleet was replaced with first generation diesels. The first road diesel, Baldwin DT-6-6-2000 No. 100, was delivered to the railroad in May 1946. The final steam movement occurred in late May 1949, led by a Mikado 2-8-2, EJ&E No. 740. The locomotive was sold to the scrapper that September. Another 2-8-2, No. 765, which had been sold to the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway in 1948, is the railway's only surviving steam locomotive. It was donated to Gary, Indiana in 1962 and has been on static display in Lakefront Park, next to I-90 and the South Shore Line's Gary station ever since. The Illinois Railway Museum attempted to purchase the engine in the early 1980s, but Gary refused this offer.

In 1988, United States Steel and the Blackstone Group formed Transtar Inc. to serve as a shareholder of the EJ&E and several other affiliated railroads and companies. In March 2001, the Blackstone Group ended their ownership interest in Transtar, resulting in its becoming a fully owned subsidiary of United States Steel.

On May 16, 2006, the EJ&E was the recipient of the 2005 Bronze E. H. Harriman Award for employee safety in group C (line-haul railroads with less than 4 million employee hours per year).


EJ&E No. 303, an EMD SW1200 locomotive, repainted in Gary Railway colors in March 2008.

(PeaceFrog70, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Canadian National/Gary Railway

On September 10, 2007, Crain's Chicago Business reported that the Canadian National Railway was in talks to purchase the EJ&E. In 2004, Canadian National had acquired two railroads, the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railroad and the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad, that had also previously been owned by Transtar, but that at the time CN acquired them were owned by Great Lakes Transportation, LLC, a Blackstone Group subsidiary created when USS became the sole owner of Transtar). The purchase agreement was officially announced on September 26; CN would purchase the majority of the line. The purchase was initially expected to close in mid-2008, valued at $300 million.

In fact, the closing did not take place until January 31, 2009 (effective February 1, 2009), following regulatory approval of the purchase by the Surface Transportation Board on December 24, 2008. Canadian National plans to use the EJ&E to route trains around Chicago, where they now face lengthy delays because of congestion in the busy rail hub.

In accordance with its agreement with CN, Transtar retained some railroad infrastructure in Gary, Indiana; this infrastructure has been reorganized as the Gary Railway to continue serving U.S. Steel's plants located there.

On Tuesday, March 10, 2009, the first two Canadian National trains debuted on the Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern, with plans to run six trains per day on the lines in the near future.


EJ&E Private Car No. 40, built by Pullman in 1901, shown here at Wisconsin Dells. Photo Courtesy Russ Porter. (© Mary Jayne's Railroad Specialties, Fair use, Title 17, Section 107, via W. Lenheim Collection)

EJ&E Baldwin center cab diesels 910 and 920 at Griffith, IN, January 2, 1972. Photo by Robert E. Emmett. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, via W. Lenheim Collection)

Two of the four EJ&E Baldwin Sharknose demonstrators at Griffith, IN. After five years of service, they were sold to the B&O. From an original painting by Russ Porter. (© Mary Jayne's Railroad Specialties, Fair use, Title 17, Section 107, via W. Lenheim Collection)


EJ&E Baldwin No. 920 at Griffith, IN, May 1971. Photo by Richard R. Wallin. (© Mary Jayne's Railroad Specialties, Fair use, Title 17, Section 107, via W. Lenheim Collection)

Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway 920, a Baldwin DT66-2000 rebuilt by EMD at Griffith, IN in January 1965. (Photo by Roger Puta, Courtesy Marty Bernard, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons) 

Elgin, Joliet & Eastern EJ&E 608, an SD9. (Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad Caboose No. 184. (vxla from Chicago, US, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway No. 920, a Baldwin DT66-2000 rebuilt by EMD, and No. 305, an SW1200 at Griffith, IN in January 1972. (Photo by Roger Puta, Courtesy Marty Bernard, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons) 

EJE caboose 538 at West Chicago, IL on December 14, 1987. (Photo by Roger Puta, Courtesy Marty Bernard, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons) 

Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway 920, a Baldwin DT66-2000 rebuilt by EMD, at Griffith, IN in January 1965. (Photo by Roger Puta, Courtesy Marty Bernard, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons) 

EJ&E Hopper Car No. 70296, ca. 1916. (Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons)

Westbound freight on the EJ&E at Aurora, IL, July 20, 1952. (Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Motive power

All-time diesel roster

The EJ&E's all time diesel roster consisted of:

Locomotive Model Quantity Road Numbers Notes
Alco HH660 4 209-212
Alco HH900 1 402
Alco RS-2 10 800-809 Locomotive #801 was eventually sold to Hylsamex, and as of 2012 is still operating. Believed to be the oldest operating diesel locomotive in Mexico.
Alco S-1 5 213-217
Alco S-2 12 451-462
Baldwin DR-4-4-1500 2 A-B sets 700A, 700B, 701A, 701B "Sharknose" body
Baldwin DRS-6-6-1500 2 500-501
Baldwin DT-6-6-2000 27 100-126 Locomotive #100 was a unique prototype. All were sold and scrapped by 1974 replaced by the EMD SD38-2 fleet.
Baldwin VO660 3 270-272
Baldwin VO1000 10 475-484
EMD GP38-2 5 700-704 Sold to the Birmingham Southern Railroad in 1987. In 1996, locomotive #703 was repurchased and assigned to Waukegan, IL.
EMD SD9 15 600-614
EMD SD18 5 615, 616, 818, 851, 852 #818 upgraded to SD18U.
EMD SDM 8 802, 804, 809, 811, 813–815, 820 Ex-Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. Rebuilt from EMD SD9s in 1990.
EMD SD38 6 650-655 650 sold to CITI rail as of 2011,654 sold to Hartwell Railroad as of 2012, 651–653,655 sold to DM&IR in 1992/3
EMD SD38-2 21 656-675, All still active under Canadian National Ownership, 658,664,666,668,670Re-painted to CN colors
EMC NC 1 402
EMC NW1 2 400, 401
EMC/EMD NW2 52 403-443, 408, 446–452, 450, 455, 458 There were two separate EMD NW2 locomotives designated #450, though not at the same time. One EJE 450 is possessed by Gary Railway but out of service in US Steel Gary Works.
EMD SW 9 200-208 First diesel locomotives on the EJ&E.
EMD SW1 30 220-249
EMD SW1000 1 459
EMD SW1001 3 444-446 444 and 445 to LTEX 444–445. 446 to CN 446
EMD SW1200 23 300-307, 310-324 EJ&E No. 315 was involved in an accident in 2000 and was subsequently scrapped in 2003. 300–305, 307 to Gary Railway. 306 to LTEX 306. 310-324 from Burlington Northern.
EMD SW8 1 457
EMD SW9 2 454, 456
EMD SW900 1 453
EMD SW1500 1 460
EMD TR4 1 308/309 Rebuilt from a UP Cow/Calf Set; Calf made into a Cow unit.


The EJ&E connects the following cities and large towns:

  • Waukegan, Illinois
  • Libertyville, Illinois
  • Vernon Hills, Illinois
  • Lake Zurich, Illinois
  • Barrington, Illinois
  • Hoffman Estates, Illinois
  • Elgin, Illinois
  • West Chicago, Illinois
  • Aurora, Illinois
  • Plainfield, Illinois
  • Joliet, Illinois
  • Minooka, Illinois
  • Morris, Illinois
  • New Lenox, Illinois
  • Mokena, Illinois
  • Frankfort, Illinois
  • Richton Park, Illinois
  • Chicago Heights, Illinois
  • Park Forest, Illinois
  • Griffith, Indiana
  • Gary, Indiana


EJ&E No. 701, a Baldwin DR-4-4-1500.

(Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway, W. Lenheim Collection)



Headquarters: Gary, Indiana
Reporting mark: EJE
Locale: Illinois and Indiana
Dates of operation: January 1, 1889–January 1, 2013
Predecessor: Joliet, Aurora & Northern Railway; Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company of Illinois
Successor: Wisconsin Central Ltd.
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length: 164 miles (264 km)


See Also:

Railroads A-Z