Hill Avenue and Crescent Street, City of Wheaton
- Address: TBD
- Established: 1902
- Original Line: Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Ry
- Rebuilt: TBD
- Previous Names: n/a
- Flag stop
- (View location)
College Ave. was a local station on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin’s main line located at the crossing of Hill Avenue near Crescent Street in Wheaton.
The route selected for the Aurora, Elgin and Chicago Railway had the interurban line parallel the Chicago and North Western through Wheaton as part of its line from Wheaton to Chicago. A station was included at Hill Avenue to serve the businesses along College Avenue. (College Avenue curved just the north of the C&NW and didn’t actually cross the AE&C.)
Though planned to open with the inauguration of service over the AE&C, College Ave. was not one of the initial stops on the railway when it entered service on August 25, 1902. It was one of a number of local stops that opened shortly afterward, entering service by October.1 The station was typical of local stops on the early Aurora, Elgin & Chicago, consisting of a pair of short, wooden, low level, side platforms situated on the east side of Hill Avenue2 and a wooden sign at the end of the platform naming the station.
By 1920, the station had been expanded to include a frame wooden shelter on the eastbound platform3 and electric lighting.4 The wooden platforms were replaced by cinder and were lengthened to 84 ft.,5 (approximately the length of a two car train).
College Ave. (like all local stations on the CA&E) was a flag stop. Each platform was equipped with a flag stop semaphore which was activated with a pull chain. People wishing to catch a train pulled the chain raising the semaphore (the “flag”) which signaled the motorman to stop. If the flag was not raised, the train did not stop even if it was listed as a stop for that train on the timetable. A passenger onboard a train wishing to alight here had to notify a conductor of his or her intention to disembark.
With the cutback of service from Wells Street to Forest Park due to the construction of the Congress Street Superhighway [Eisenhower Expressway (I-290)] in 1953, a large number of passengers abandoned the CA&E, financially devastating the railroad. In response, in 1956, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) considered two similar plans for assuming operation of the line between Forest Park and Wheaton. Under both schemes A/B skip-stop service would have been implemented. The first would have used existing CA&E rolling stock and would have provided direct service to the Loop via the Garfield Park/Congress branch, the Paulina Connector, and the Lake Street Elevated.6 Under this plan, all stations west of Stewart Ave. would have been designated “C” stations (along with Villa Park and York St.) thereby providing express service to the Loop from those points during rush hour. College Ave. would have remained a flag stop and trains would only stop upon signal.7 The other plan called for using rebuilt PCC streetcars which would have operated between Wheaton and Forest Park where transfers to the “L” would be made.8 College Ave. would have become an “A” stop.9
Chicago Ave. remained in use until July 3, 1957, when the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin Railway unexpectedly shut down at 12:13 p.m. Eventually the shelter, sign, and platform lighting were all removed as the railroad was scrapped, however the platforms were left in place. Deteriorated portions of these remain on the Illinois Prairie Path.
Full station profile and history coming soon.