Mt. Carmel Branch route map Main line Main line Bellwood Mt. Carmel Cemetery

Mt. Carmel (Cook County) Branch

General Overview:

The Mount Carmel (or Cook County) Branch was the small, single track branch of the Aurora & Elgin built to serve the Oak Ridge and Mt. Carmel Cemeteries located in the village of Hillside. It left the Main Line at Bellwood where it headed south before eventually turning and running west in the vicinity of Roosevelt Road.

Construction of the branch was done under the Cook County & Southern Railway (a subsidiary company of the Aurora & Elgin which was created solely for this purpose). Unlike the rest of the railroad which used third rail as the primary source of power to the trains (hence the nickname the Great Third Rail) the Mt. Carmel (Cook County) Branch was built without a single section of third rail. Instead the entire branch was operated under overhead trolley wire. While this was typical for most interurbans, it was quite the aberration for the Great Third Rail.

Service began on March 18, 1906. A single car shuttle provided service between Mt. Carmel Cemetery and the stub-end track at Bellwood.

Non-funeral passenger service came to an end on October 31, 1926, due to the opening of the nearby Westchester service which also branched off of the Main Line at Bellwood Avenue. Bus service was inaugurated as a connection service between Oak Ridge and Mt. Carmel Cemeteries to the Roosevelt rapid transit station on the Westchester branch.

But even though passenger service ended, the branch continued to remain of no small importance to the Aurora & Elgin as it became a major source of the railroad's carload freight.

So important was the freight supplied by the branch that after the Aurora & Elgin shut down completely, the Mt. Carmel (Cook County) Branch lived on. It was purchased by the Indiana Harbor Belt who continued to use the line all the way until 1986 (twenty five years after complete abandonment of the CA&E) when it was finally abandoned.

Full branch profile and history coming soon.

Additional Photos


It's July 4, 1956, almost exactly one year to the day before the CA&E will suddenly end service. We're looking south along Mannheim Road as car 403 brings up the rear of a two car fantrip train on the Cook County branch.

Photo by GM Andersen, from the Krambles-Peterson Archive


This is looking north at the point where the Cook County branch crossed Madison and Mannheim, as seen in 1980. At this point the Chicago Great Western and the CA&E had separate tracks with a system of multiple rails laid togther to form a road surface. The CGW tracks are seen at left, the old CA&E tracks are at right.

Photo by Randall Hicks


During the construction of the Congress Street Superhighway (today's Eisenhower Expressway) a bridge was built to carry the Cook County branch over the new highway. This scene shows that bridge looking south in 1980. The tracks were in the middle of a street. Note the remains of a tongue switch in the foreground. Today none of this exists, the bridge having been removed during reconstruction of nearby on-ramps.

Photo by Randall Hicks


The Cook County branch just south of the Illinois Central underpass looking north in 1980. The branch was originally planned to cross the Illinois Central tracks at grade. This underpass was built as a result of protestations from the IC.

Photo by Randall Hicks


We're near the south end of the Cook County branch looking north in 1980. Occasional freight service was still being operated over the branch, however the siding at the right was no longer used. Electrical hardware is still on the line poles.

Photo by Randall Hicks