Geneva Branch route map Elgin branch Elgin branch Fannette West Chicago Grand Lake Kress Road Kautz Road Kirk Road Geneva St. Charles

Geneva Branch


The Geneva branch began at Geneva Junction, a point on the Elgin branch approximately two miles from Wheaton. The line traveled west from the junction across open country. At Winfield Road [County Farm Road] the line came to its easternmost stop: Winfield Road. Heading west, the track passed over the West Branch of the Du Page River and eventually came to Fannette, the line’s only private stop. This stop was not near any public roads, but was just to the east of a small creek. Several hundred feet to the west, at High Lake Avenue, was the next stop, High Lake. The line crossed West Chicago Avenue [Prince Crossing Road] and trains put up their trolley poles and switched from third rail to overhead power. Shortly after this the line’s private right-of-way ended.


The transition from third rail to trolley wire occurred east of the point where the track entered the public roadway in West Chicago. This photograph looks west from a train at Prince Crossing Road on September 4, 1935.

Photo by William C. Jansen, from the Krambles-Peterson Archive

The track continued west in the middle of Depot Street (later renamed Main Street) to the intersection of Main, Washington, and Freemont Streets. This alignment took the Geneva branch through downtown West Chicago but also took trains past the station of the competing Chicago & North Western [Metra Union Pacific / West Line] which offered faster service to Wheaton and Chicago. The West Chicago stop for the electric line was at Main and Washington, however no building was owned by the railroad at this location. Station services were instead provided inside of the Public Service Company of Northern Illinois building. The tracks curved slightly to the east at Washington Street to follow Freemont Street north (Freemont did not originally line up with Main Street) before veering off to the west at York Avenue where the line left the roadway and entered private right-of-way. A stop was located on the south side of Grand Lake Boulevard and just north of here trains transitioned from overhead power back to the third rail.


The truss bridge that carried the Geneva branch track over the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern (mid picture) and the Chicago & North Western (background) had a span of 260 feet.

Electric Railway Journal

After crossing Grand Lake, the tracks curved to the west, rose up on solid fill and passed over the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern and the Chicago & North Western tracks on a steel, through truss bridge. Once over the EJ&E and the C&NW, the line continued west across undeveloped land. Just beyond the bridge, trains came to West Chicago Siding and approximately a mile and a half later, the line crossed Kress Creek and then Kress Road where there was a small stop. One mile west of Kress Road was Kautz Road, the DuPage-Kane county line. The stop here, Kautz, was on the west side of the road. Continuing west, the line came to Kirk Road and trains stopped at a platform on the east side of the road. Just east of the Kirk Road stop was Kirk Siding. The next stop was at Dodson Road [East Side Drive]. In the mid 1920s a large park was established just north of the station and the stop was renamed Good Templar Park. Upon reaching Route 25 (Bennett Street) the third rail ended and trains switched back to overhead power as the track curved south and entered the roadway. The line followed Bennett Street south until Route 38 (State Street) where it turned west and crossed over the Fox River on a concrete arch bridge.

On the Fox River Line

At the intersection of 3rd and State Streets, the track joined with that of the Aurora-Elgin line of the Fox River Line. Beyond this point trains from Chicago operated on trackage belonging to that line. The section of the route west of 3rd Street opened in 1896 as part of the interurban line from Elgin to Aurora. This was a single track line which passed through the streets of St. Charles and Geneva. At 3rd and State, the line turned south from State Street onto 3rd Street to head to Aurora. The addition of the Third Rail track turned the 3rd Street curve into a junction in the shape of a T, known as Chicago Junction. Just west of the intersection and the junction was the Geneva station which was situated in a storefront on the north side of State Street. Trains headed and came to the 4th Street Switch, a short passing siding in the vicinity of 4th Street. The line continued west on 38 until Anderson Boulevard, where it turned north. A second passing siding, Wheeler’s Siding, was built on this curve. North of Wheeler’s siding the line followed Anderson Boulevard as it became 3rd Street in St. Charles. Another passing siding, St. Charles Switch, was on this stretch between Bowman and Mosedale Streets. Upon reaching Main Street (Route 64), the track turned east, crossed back over the Fox River, and came to the long Main Street Siding. Chicago trains terminated the St. Charles station at Riverside Avenue while Fox River cars headed for Elgin continued west and turned north onto Fifth Avenue.

General Overview:

The Geneva Branch was the Aurora & Elgin’s last branch built out to the Fox River Communities. It ran in a predominantly westerly direction branching off from a point roughly two miles northwest of Wheaton on the Elgin branch roughly paralleling the Chicago and Northwestern onward through West Chicago to Geneva.

The branch was a single track line built by a company known as the Chicago Wheaton & Western Railway. Interestingly enough, the Chicago, Wheaton & Western (CW&W) was not a subsidiary company of the Aurora & Elgin (unlike the Batavia & Eastern Railway which was incorporated to build the Batavia branch). Instead, its origins appear to have been an independent interurban line that planned on connecting with the Aurora & Elgin.

The CW&W's construction standards were well below what typically defined the Aurora & Elgin's high speed lines. With its single track line and quite a bit of street running, the Geneva Branch was very much like the typical Midwestern interurbans of the day.

The branch opened on September 21, 1909, with trains running only as far as West Chicago. Timetables listed the service as the Chicago Wheaton & Western, though crews and equipment operating over the line were always supplied by the Aurora & Elgin. By December the line had been extended out to Geneva and on August 25, 1910, service was extended once again, this time to St. Charles over two miles of trackage belonging to the Fox River Division of the AE&C.

The branch found itself poorly patronized throughout its existence owing primarily to the parallel Chicago and Northwestern which provided Geneva and West Chicago residents with faster and more direct service into downtown Chicago. Its low ridership would eventually catch up with the branch during the economically stressed days of the depression. It finally ended up getting shut down on October 31, 1937 and rail service was replaced with busses connecting to the Elgin Branch at Lakewood.

Full branch profile and history coming soon.

Additional Photos


A view looking west at the right of way of the Geneva branch circa 1953. Seen are the piers that held the pair of bridges that carried trains over the Chicago & North Western and the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern. At the time of the photo, the branch had been abandoned for a little over fifteen years.

Photo by GM Andersen, from the Krambles-Peterson Archive


A view looking east from the corner of Main and 3rd Streets in St. Charles where both Fox River and Third Rail interurbans turned. This photograph dates from 1910, around the time trains from Chicago began operating here. Note that Main Street has not yet been paved. An interurban car is crossing the bridge over the Fox River in the distance.

DN-0055737, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum


This is the end of the Main Street siding in St. Charles, the end of the line for the CA&E. This view looks west from the east end of the siding in 1923. Geneva branch trains switched ends at this point and then begain their return trips to Wheaton and Chicago. The interurban cars of the Fox River Line continued up the hill behind the photographer.

DN-0055737, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum


At York Avenue the Geneva branch left the roadway and resumed operation on private right-of-way but continued under overhead power for a short ways, as seen on October 30, 1937. The small structure in the distance just to the right of the track is the Grand Lake stop.

Photo by AW Johnson, from the Krambles-Peterson Archive


This view looks north from York Avenue and Fremont Street in West Chicago on July 27, 1947. It has been almost a full ten years since the Geneva branch was abandoned, but evidence of the line is still plain. The placement of the rails in the street is evident and, although the overhead wire is gone, the right-of-way beyond the street is still apparent, if obscured somewhat by overgrowth.

Photo by AW Johnson, from the Krambles-Peterson Archive