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Scenic Glenwood Park proved to be such a popular destination that the AE&C was unable to meet the demands with the limited number of cars it possessed. As a result, the Glenwood Park station, seen in the foreground at right, was rebuilt with a high level platform to accomodate Metropolitan “L” cars which the AE&C was forced to borrow. The Batavia Powerhouse is the large structure in the background.

Electric Railway Journal

Glenwood Park

Near S River Street north of Bond Drive, City of Batavia

History:

The Batavia & Eastern Railway Company was incorporated on February 22, 1901,1 to construct a line from Batavia to a point on the Aurora, Wheaton & Chicago Railway between Wheaton and Aurora. This line would become the Batavia branch of the Aurora Elgin & Chicago Railway. At time of the incorporation, land was already being purchased for the site of the new powerhouse.2

In total, 28 acres of land were purchased in Batavia. What wasn’t used for the Power house and the right-of-way became Glenwood Park,3 a scenic riparian and woodland picnic retreat for city dwellers.

The idea was to create a popular destination served by the line that people would ride the train to, thus generating traffic and thereby revenue. The concept wasn’t unique to the Aurora Elgin & Chicago or even uncommon amongst trolley operators. In 1899, the Aurora Yorkville & Morris Railway (one of the predecessors to the Fox River Lines) established Riverview [Fox River] Park in Aurora with the same goal. This was later followed by the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric establishing Ravinia Park, amongst many others across the United States.

A small station was built to serve both the new park and the nearby Batavia Power House. Early on the station consisted of nothing more than a single, short, low level, wooden platform situated on the west side of the tracks.

On the other hand, by 1903, the park grounds themselves featured a restaurant, an ice cream parlor, and a check room in addition to the standard of picnic tables and benches.4 It quickly became the line’s biggest attraction. Glenwood Park was so successful that excursion trips generated so much traffic in early years that the railroad didn’t possess enough rolling stock to cover the weekend crowds.5 The AE&C was forced to borrow Metropolitan “L” trains to make up for the equipment shortfall and upgrade the station by adding a high level platform5, 6 to enable passengers to alight from the rapid transit cars.

In April 1904 the company had the dance hall, refreshment hall, and other buildings remodeled. Even though the grounds had been open for the 1903 picnic season, the park had only come to completion around this time. In addition to the aforementioned facilities, it included approximately 100 acres of woods.5


The park continued to serve as a destination for the railroad at least into the 1920s. After that, either traffic had dwindled or the company felt that the land would be more profitable serving different uses. At one point the grounds were leased to the Works Progress Administration. The lease ended on July 1, 1943, however they had already vacated the grounds on April 30.7 The war effort had diminished the need for the W.P.A and it was hoped to use Glenwood Park as a training center for the army, University of Chicago, or the boy scouts, but none of these came to fruition.

In its later years the station occupied the role of a modest interurban stop. The high level platform was removed and was replaced with a low level asphalt platform. A simple wooden passenger shelter was erected and the station received a standard CA&E flag stop semaphore.

The station continued in regular use until September 20, 1953, when the hours of service on the Batavia branch were reduced to weekday rush hours only. It shut down entirely on July 3, 1957, when the CA&E ceased passenger service.

Additional Photos

powerhouse1.jpg

In its early years, the Batavia Powerhouse not only supplied electricty to the Aurora Elgin & Chicago Railroad, but also to various towns and cities along the Fox River. By 1955, when this photo was taken, those days were long behind it. The Glenwood Park station, whose importance had also decreased with time, is at left.

Photo by Don Ross

318b.jpg

The rusty rails pefectly illustrate the lack of traffic over the Batavia branch. Car 318 has traversed these unused rails for a fan trip in the late 1950s and is seen stopped at Glenwood Park.

Photo by Robert Heinlein

Sources:

  1. “General News of Railways.” Chicago Daily Tribune 23 Feb. 1901: 13. Print.
  2. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 175
  3. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 192
  4. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 215
  5. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 223
  6. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 231
  7. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 353