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Wagner Road

LocationWagner Road near Anderson Dr.,
Batavia, IL 60510
EstablishedSeptember/October 1902
Original LineAurora, Elgin & Chicago Ry
RebuiltTBD
Previous NamesN/A
Tracks1
Platforms1, low level
Flag stop

History:

Wagner Road was a stop on the Batavia branch of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin at the crossing of Wagner Road in (what was then) rural Batavia Township.

The stop opened when the Batavia branch was put into service in late September or early October of 1902. Surviving photographs of similar stations from this period give an indication of what Wagner Road looked like in its early years. Wagner Road was a purely functional structure, consisting of a nothing more than a low level platform set back from the crossing of the dirt road that the stop was named for. The platform itself was built using wooden planks and was approximately the length of one car. It was located on the east side of the crossing of Wagner Road on the south side of the Batavia branch’s single track.1

At some point prior to the end of 1920, Wagner Road was reconstructed. The original platform was removed and replaced with a cinder platform 80 feet in length.2 Additionally, the stop received railings and a sign.3 An auxiliary wooden platform 26 feet 9 inches long by 7 feet 9 inches wide and 5 feet 6 inches tall was also provided in the vicinity for the use of farmers in the area for the delivery and shipment of milk containers.2

Service at Wagner Road consisted of a single car acting as an extension of the service to and from Chicago provided on the Aurora branch. This car shuttled between Batavia Junction and the Batavia terminal and was scheduled in conjunction with the Aurora-Chicago trains; eastbound the car arrived at the junction in time for passengers to transfer to Chicago trains and westbound it left the junction after picking up passengers transferring from trains bound for Aurora. Under this system, stops were scheduled thirty minutes apart during rush hour and hourly at other times.

Wagner Road, like most stops on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, was a flag stop. This meant that even though a time was listed on the timetable, the car did not actually stop at the specified time unless there was someone waiting on the platform or a passenger onboard notified the train crew of his or her intention to disembark. As there was no ticket office at Wagner Road, fares were paid after boarding.

Around the time the United States entered World War II, the CA&E initiated a materials saving program that coincided with the national rationing that was occurring to aid the war effort. After reviewing the findings from a survey taken January 15, 1943, a subcommittee of the Budget and Expense Committee recommended the closure of fifteen stops. This was informally brought before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) who instead suggested closing twelve stations, but noted that such action would necessitate a formal public hearing and require ICC approval prior to being done.4

The Budget and Expense Committee toured the railroad on March 18, 1943 and examined the stops to be shuttered. Afterward the subcommittee recommended the elimination of sixteen stops (Garden Home, Stratford Hills, Emory, Chicago Golf, Plamondon, Ferry Road, Diehl Road, Wagner Road, Hart Road, Glenwood Park, Wesley St., Pleasant Hill, Geneva Road, St. Andrews, Smith Road, and St. Charles Road) and again met with ICC representatives. This time the ICC pointed out that the railroad could achieve the desired effect by greatly reducing the number of scheduled stops at the selected stations and circumvent the need for a public hearing.5

Before a new time table could be put into effect, the riding public protested the changes and forced a hearing before the ICC. The CA&E argued that such changes were necessary for aiding the war effort, while lawyers representing the passengers argued otherwise. Ultimately the ICC allowed the closing of the Stratford Hills and Emory stops and ruled that the CA&E could reduce service to remainder.5 Under the new time table, Wagner Road received substantial cuts.

Then (concurrent with the cutback of service from Wells Street to Forest Park) on September 20, 1953, usage of Wagner Road was cut further when service on the Batavia branch was reduced to the hours of 5:21 a.m. to 9:35 a.m. and 3:43 p.m. to 7:47 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Connecting Motor Coach Service was extended south from Geneva to connect with the Batavia terminal to provide service outside of these hours, but no replacement service was offered at Bilter Road, State Road, Wagner Road, Hart Road, or at Glenwood Park. This brought the service level at Wagner Road to just twenty eight daily cars: seven in each direction in the morning rush, and seven in each direction in the evening.

This meager level of service was maintained until July 3, 1957, when the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin Railway shut down passenger service at 12:13 p.m. Eventually Wagner Road was demolished.

Today, the Illinois Prairie Path (the 61-mile multi-use trail that primarily occupies the right-of-way of the CA&E) runs through the area which has since been built up with a multitude of single-family homes. As with the sites of many other stops on the CA&E, this location is entirely innocuous as part of the Prairie Path and there is little—if any—indication that it was the site of a train station.

Sources:

  1. The Great Third Rail. Central Electric Railfans’ Association, p. IV-12.
  2. “COST TO REPRODUCE NEW LESS DEPRECIATION BASED ON INVENTORY AND COSTS AS OF DECEMBER 31, 1920: INVENTORY QUANTITIES AND VALUES.” Chicago Aurora and Railroad Company, n.d. p. 230.
  3. “COST TO REPRODUCE NEW LESS DEPRECIATION BASED ON INVENTORY AND COSTS AS OF DECEMBER 31, 1920: INVENTORY QUANTITIES AND VALUES.” Chicago Aurora and Railroad Company, n.d. p. 229.
  4. Plachno, Larry. Sunset Lines: The Story of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad 2 - History. Transportation Trails, 1989, p. 355.
  5. Plachno, Larry. Sunset Lines: The Story of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad 2 - History. Transportation Trails, 1989, p. 357.