Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here
Fire & Police


In General

Location / Name:
    Matteson IL

What's Here:
     Matteson Junction, Railfan Viewing Platform, Caboose

     GPS Coordinates: 41.497370, -87.699620 (Viewing Platform)
     ZIP: 60443

Access by train/transit:
     Metra Electric District (ME), Matteson Station (approx 2 blocks away)

The Scoop:

Matteson has a really nice viewing platform built by the Canadian National RR for "us" railfans. 

I do not know when the CN rebuilt/added to the interchange, but in doing so, the former EJ&E east-west line was moved to accommodate it.  It has to be fairly recently, because the Google street view looking east from Central Park still shows the tracks going straight, like they do in the B&W photo below with the EJ&E center-cab loco.  The small map below shows how the tracks and the EJ&E yard appeared years ago.  I'm guessing the yard disappeared years ago....


Thanks to Denver Todd for his help with my railfan guides and suggesting welcome changes to help all ya'll.

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 


Getting Here

Matteson is about 20 miles southwest of the Loop in downtown Chicago. 

From downtown Chicago, head south on the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-94) to 95th Street where you will access I-57.  Continue south until you reach US Rte. 30, a distance of about 15 miles.  Head east about two miles to Main Street, and turn right.  Head south about a mile to downtown Matteson. Parking is available on the street and a parking lot on 216th Street--or you can use the Metra parking lot at Matteson station (although there is a parking fee).  From the west or east, take I-80 to I-57 and head south Rte. 30.  Then follow the above directions.

You can, of course, also take Metra from downtown to the Matteson station (on the Metra Electric line).  Metra trains run frequently from Millennium station in downtown Chicago (Randolph St and Michigan Ave).  You can also board a half mile south at Van Buren Street.  Be sure to take a University Park train.




    1      Railfan Park & Viewing Platform

The Railfan Viewing Platform has a wonderful advantage point.  It sits elevated from the track that runs in front of it, and from the whole area in general.  And if you are wondering what the line on my map is that leads to it, it is a handicapped accessible ramp.  The park was built by the CN.

  from http://blog.bubbasgarage.com/2014/04/traveling-lincoln-highway-day-4.html

  from http://blog.bubbasgarage.com/2014/04/traveling-lincoln-highway-day-4.html

    2      Caboose


  from http://blog.bubbasgarage.com/2014/04/traveling-lincoln-highway-day-4.html

    3      Former EJ&E Depot

Looking at the aerial view under signal location 4, it seems as tho they took this building down, which, appears to have been a small depot owing to its bay window.  Also, the overpass where the Metra line goes over has room for another one or two tracks.



    1      A


    2      A


    3      A

    4      A

This location seems to have been either moved or deleted as part of a signal upgrade.

    5      A

    6      A


  From http://www.dhke.com/CRJ/matteson.html

211th St - from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/211th_Street_(Lincoln_Highway)_(Metra_station)

  from http://www.moonlighthaze.com/id13.html

  ICG - Matteson IL by D.W. Davidson on Flickr, found on Google Images

  from http://www.ejearchive.com/page_photos_bk_diesel.html 

  from http://aam.govst.edu/projects/cmeyer/imagetable2.htm

Fire and Police



Some History

In 1848, Fredrick Illgen purchased 40 acres from the government. These 40 acres are now the southern section of Matteson. The village was named after the 10th Governor of Illinois Joel A. Matteson, who was in office at the time of the settlement.

German settlers were among the first to arrive to the area situated at the intersection of the Illinois Central and New York Central railroads. The railroads would bring thousands of people yearly from the East Coast to the Midwest, stopping in the Chicago Southland communities along the way. Some of these people decided to remain in the Matteson (pronounced Mat-te-son) area rather than proceed to Chicago.

When Matteson became incorporated in 1889, the village operated two jail cells from a one-story Village Hall. A lean-to shed housed the man-drawn, hand-operated fire fighting equipment. A volunteer fire department that organized in 1894 mandated that each fire fighter provides his own bucket.

The late 1890s and early 1900s brought about village improvements that included wooden sidewalks, a water pumping station, and a streetcar line that ran from Joliet through the heart of Matteson. An amusement park in Elliott's Woods was attracting visitors from Chicago and neighboring communities. Cement sidewalks began replacing the wooden version, and the two trains provide train service to Chicago.

In the early years, the settlers had to contend with rustic cabins for homes and sporadic supplies of food and other necessities. But by 1860, George E. Dolton was appointed teacher of a one-room school earning a salary of $148 for a six-month term. A new schoolhouse was built in 1865. The community continued to grow and in 1876 the school added a second story, the same year that a new Village Hall was built.

According to the 1880 census, Matteson's population included 500 residents. These people were served by two general stores, two hotels, two saloons and boarding houses, one shoe shop, two harness shops, blacksmith shop, and a wagon and implement shop.

There were closings, the amusement park in 1913, and there were openings, a baseball diamond for the village team. A village water system was placed into operation in 1914. Route 30 (Lincoln Highway) was paved in 1917 and a new school was constructed in 1918.

The Illinois Central celebrated its conversion to electricity in 1926 with decorated trains, beauty pageant winners, and a visit from the Governor of Illinois. A new modern sewage disposal plant opened in 1939. A local Girl Scout Troop was organized in 1946, a larger Village Hall was built in 1947, and the Park District was created in 1949.

The population rose to 1,211 by 1950.  And by 1990, Matteson was a community of 11,378.

From:  http://www.villageofmatteson.org/widgets/newsevents/item9/index.php

Historical USGS Maps

This relatively new USGS map is the only thing I have found so far, and it is from the early 1950's.  Not much detail tho......



I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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NEW 01/01/2014
Last Modified 22-Sep-2015