West Chicago, Ill., has been awarded membership in Union Pacific's Train Town USA Registry as part of the railroad's year-long 150th anniversary celebration.
West Chicago received an official Train Town USA resolution signed by Union Pacific Chairman Jim Young, and West Chicago's historical connection with Union Pacific will be featured at www.up150.com.
"We are proud to recognize West Chicago as we commemorate our railroad's sesquicentennial celebration and growing up together," said Adrian Guerrero, Union Pacific director - Public Affairs for Illinois. "Union Pacific has been part of the country's fabric throughout the railroad's 150-year history. That bond between us and the nearly 7,300 communities we serve continues to strengthen.
"Our shared heritage with West Chicago is a source of pride as we remember our past while serving and connecting our nation for years to come."
West Chicago holds the distinction of being the first Illinois community created by the debut of the railroads. Early records show that a few settlers owned property in the area of present day West Chicago as early as the late 1830s. In 1849, a town began to form when the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, predecessor of the Chicago & North Western (C&NW).
That same year the St. Charles Branch Railroad connected St. Charles with the Galena & Chicago Union (G&CU) in West Chicago, followed by the Aurora Branch line in 1850. These connections formed the first railroad junction in Illinois and gave West Chicago its first name, Junction.
Because of the number of trains passing through town, water and fuel facilities for locomotives and a roundhouse were built, as well as an early eating-house and hotel for travelers. As a result, a number of new employees and their families located to West Chicago.
The C&NW and Union Pacific merged in 1995.