Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway

Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway

The Chicago and Joliet Electric Railway, or C&JE, was an electric interurban railway linking the cities of Chicago and Joliet, Illinois. It was the only interurban between those cities and provided a link between the streetcar network of Chicago and the cities along the Illinois River Valley in north central Illinois, which were served by the Illinois Valley Division of the Illinois Traction System.


The C&JE was an outgrowth of the Joliet streetcar system, which was acquired by the American Railways Company of Philadelphia at the turn of the century. In 1900 a line was built north from Joliet to Lemont, with an extension to Chicago opening in September 1901. The line ran along the Illinois River from downtown Joliet to the corner of Archer Avenue and Cicero Avenue on the edge of Chicago, where the tracks connected with the rails of the Chicago Surface Lines. In 1915 the C&JE became a subsidiary of Central Illinois Public Service Company, which was owned by Samuel Insull. Despite the use of modern suburban-type interurban cars, C&JE ridership plummeted with the onset of the Great Depression and on November 16, 1933 the line was abandoned.


The route of the railway took it into Lemont over what is now New Avenue, then eastward on Main Street, until it diverted alongside a steam railway to Route 83 where it crossed the river on its own trestle, then immediately headed for the north side of Archer Road. The rails ran on the north side of Archer all the way to Willow Springs. The right-of-way is still visible, and for a good distance in Willow Springs exists as a graveled stretch now used for parking. Past Willow Springs the rails ran to either side of Archer; the electrical station and car barns still stand as a catering business, the Legacy. As the rails neared the curve of Archer at what is now First Avenue in Summit the rails came together in the middle of the street pavement. East of Harlem Avenue they again went to the sides of the road, with the line sharing a double loop at Cicero with the city lines (the loop is still there, modified). The discontinuance of the line made possible the widening of Archer from two lines to four west of Cicero. A short extension left Archer in Summit to head down a long hill for Ogden Avenue, where it met the Lyons streetcar line.


Hilton, George W.; John F. Due (1960). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. pp. 339. 

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