Mayor Seeks Railroad Enthusiasts for Informal Gathering

Mayor Seeks Railroad Enthusiasts for Informal Gathering
Posted on 08/27/2013

The Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railroad came to Orland Township in 1879 when railroad workers began laying track to complete a connection between Chicago and St. Louis.

“The railroad’s arrival in the area --- even before the village was incorporated 13 years later --- is a huge milestone in Orland Park’s history,” said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin. “The original train station was built near our current 143rd Street station and was called Sedgewick, which we remember with our Lake Sedgewick at Centennial Park.”

McLaughlin is inviting railroad enthusiasts to an informal meeting on Wednesday, September 4 at 7 p.m. at the Village Hall, 14700 South Ravinia Avenue.

“I’d like to get some of the many railroad buffs together to talk about how we can preserve and share the importance of the railroad in Orland Park’s history,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve talked about someday acquiring an old steam engine for the 143rd Street station and we’ve also talked about displaying railroad artifacts and memorabilia inside of the station,” he added.

“Orland Park lost one of its biggest railroad buffs in 1996 when Trustee Bill Vogel passed away,” McLaughlin recalled. “It was Bill who led the drive to bring the two antique train cars to the 153rd Street station in 1995,” the mayor said.

The 1930s Wabash Box Car and the 1920s E J & E Caboose at Orland Park’s 153rd Street station were once part of the Wabash Line that ran between St. Louis and Chicago.

“The railroad connecting Orland Park to Chicago is very important in the village’s history,” McLaughlin said.

“The train was how Orland Park’s early merchants received their stock. It allowed farmers to ship their produce and livestock. The train is how our first mayor, John Humphrey, traveled to his law office in downtown Chicago and for the last 134 years, it has carried countless passengers into the city,” he added.

McLaughlin added, “Anyone who’s interested in railroad history is invited to join us on September 4 as we explore ways to preserve and share the history of train service in Orland Park.”