West Chicago, IL

West Chicago holds the distinction of being the first Illinois community created by the debut of the railroads. 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, now the Union Pacific) arrived from Chicago. That same year the St. Charles Branch Railroad connected St. Charles with the Galena & Chicago Union (G&CU) here, 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 here, as well as an early eating-house and hotel for travelers. As a result, a number of new employees and their families located to this community. Just as the railroads played a major role in shaping West Chicago's history, they are still an important part of the City's economy today. Two rail lines - Union Pacific and Canadian National - run through or near West Chicago. Businesses in the City rely on the rail lines for incoming and outgoing distribution of product. So significant is West Chicago history with the railroad, that the City Seal features it prominently, and every year the City celebrates an annual community festival (which has become known regionally) called Railroad Days!