Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hauntings of Caryville, WI

So Calahan came running into my room the other day yelling "MOM YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THIS" and he totally hijacks my TV.  He flips to the channel that Monsters and Mysteries of America is on and shows me the snippet where it talks about the Devil Dogs in a Wisconsin town.  I told Cal, I said "That's in Caryville" ... and he's all "huh?"  I said "Caryville, it's between Eau Claire and Rock Falls, it's that little blip of a town you drive through."

He looks at me all shocked and says "SO WE LIVED RIGHT BY IT?"

Um Yeah, and Mommy totally KNEW about it too.... LOLOLOL....

We moved away from there when he was 14.  SO yeah, it wasn't something that I was like "oh hey, Cal, let's go to one of the 'most haunted areas' in Wisconsin that we live right by!" ... yeah....   Mom's cousins got married in the "Haunted Church" in Caryville...  lol.... right across from the "Haunted Schoolhouse"

So I thought I would make this entry for HIM - anyway ....  I am putting it here, because it's part of our history.  Of where we lived, the area we grew up, etc.  

So here you go Calahan.

This is the episode.  It's about 15 minutes long, and starts out at about 28:50 - if you want to fast forward to that point.

Here is some written history of the area (proving to Calahan it's in Caryville)


The silhouette of a hanging person in a belfry.
Stories of being possessed by the spirit of a young boy or ghosts of children playing in corn fields.
Those are just some of the encounters people say they've had while visiting the small town of Caryville. Many question their validity and people who live in the town say they're fed up with ghost hunters, and vandals.
The Sand Hill Cemetery one of five locations believed to be haunted in Caryville. People who live in the area have told NewsCenter 13 numerous times that the hauntings aren't true. Authors and ghost hunters Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk tried to shed some light on the myths.
Many say Caryville, Wisconsin is one of the most haunted places in the Midwest.
"People that had visited the place talked about some of the strange things that took place" says Lewis.
One of the most popular stories is that of a young boy who haunts the historic school house in Caryville.
"People insist that the spirit of the boy resides in the school yet" says Fisk.
The legend says a boy trying to escape an abusive father and took shelter in his school.
"In the morning the teacher came to the schoolhouse and found his frozen body sitting in his desk" says Fisk.
And if you sit in his desk Fisk says "you'll feel his spirit pass through your body.”
But that's not all that people experience.
Lewis says "they hear the piano being played. They eve see the keys being moved."
Intrigued by the stories, Lewis and Fisk set up shop for the night.
They sent up "motion detectors to night vision cameras, audio recorders, E.M.F. readers really to try and rule out any normal or illogical explanation" say Lewis.
That night, they found nothing unusual. Nor could they find any evidence of the boy's death.
Fisk says "only one boy that ever died while being a student was a young boy named David. He died in 1957 at the age of eight from Polio."
But he died in the hospital and not the school.
Lewis says there’s "a lot of the activity that may have a normal explanation, window shades and such banging against the door and just the whole atmosphere of it being dark, creepy and secluded."
Making the possibility of a haunting doubtful and giving it a “Not Haunted” grade. But across the street, myths of a priest's suicide in the belfry hang over the church.
Fisk says "he was upset because there were plans to sell the school across the street."
This possibility prompted him to hang himself.
Fisk says people have "driven past the church and seen an apparition of the priest, his body hanging in the belfry."
But Fisk and Lewis say Lutheran Churches don’t have priests and there's no record of the death.
"We haven't found any scientific evidence of these two places being haunted" says Fisk.
These findings, or lack of findings, give the church the same "Not Haunted" grade.
Down the road we come across the alleged watery grave of a high school prom queen.
Lewis says "she had been drinking and was intoxicated and she drove the car into the water."
Some say phantom headlights drive the surrounding roads, playing chicken with drivers.
Fisk says "right before it smashes into them the car seems to disappear."
And Lewis says if you are brave enough to look into the water you won't she her looking back at you "but you'll see the reflection of her vehicle's headlights staring up from the waters."
Because there's no record of the crash, the hunters believe a haunting here is doubtful giving this site yet another “Not Haunted” grade.
A narrow dirt road leads to another supposedly haunted area, the Meridean boat landing. Legend has it, that the area is haunted by Meridean herself.
Fisk says "she was on a ship coming up the river and she passed away and they buried her nearby here."
Lewis adds "much like a siren in the water, she tries to entice people to save her." And he says if you are foolish enough to do so "you will meet the same fate that she did."
During their hunt they were put a little on edge by a mysterious sound.
Fisk says it was "unlike any sound that we have ever heard."
Could it have been the legendary hell hounds possibly left behind by the last person to live on the island, more than 70-years ago?
Lewis says "many cultures believe these dogs actually did the devils bidding."
Knowing the history of the island and their own encounter makes it possible the area is haunted but they never found any scientific evidence making four out four for “Not Haunted” grades.
Finally, on a hill near Caryville is the Sand Hill Cemetery. Lewis says it's home to many of those who died on Meridean Island.
Fisk says people "report hearing the voices of children playing in the corn field."
Lewis says people see "mysterious balls of light hovering through this cemetery, hearing people calling their names" and feelings of not being alone.
They've investigated the cemetery many times even with psychics and Lewis says there are definite "feelings of spirits still roaming the area."
The head stones show people are buried here, and the stories match the history suggesting the site is possibly haunted and being the area to receive the “Haunted” grade.
It's not known where many of these stories come from, but they have brought in many people from all over the country and vandalism has become a big problem. Because of that, many locals say it's virtually impossible to maintain many of the sites. Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith says his deputies will not hesitate to write a ticket for trespassing, and the people living in these areas will not hesitate to call the police when they see anything suspicious. Other than the howling wind and eerie atmosphere nothing out of the ordinary or unexplained happened during the hunts.

So let me show now ........ how close we were.  This is the area I grew up.  I lived in Eau Claire most of my life.  I lived on the south side, on the north side after I had kids.  From 13 to 16-ish I lived (off and on) in Rock Falls, WI which was about a half hour travel time (by car) from Eau Claire.  

There is a little "TREE" Icon for the National Park there above the P's in Chippewa on this map.  That is where Caryville is, as show on the map below.
 Caryville is literally a little "you blink, you miss it" type of town that you hit RIGHT BEFORE you hit Rock Falls which is almost another "you blink, you miss it" type of town but like triple the size of Caryville.

Historic Church and Schoolhouse Information:
A number of Caryville locals are “fed up” with ghost hunters and legend trippers, so beware if you decide to start asking questions. Primarily, Caryville residents have become tired of the vandalism that has become rampant at locations that are considered haunted in the area.
There was never a boy who froze to death inside the old schoolhouse. There was, however, a boy named David who died while he was a student at the school. But he died of Polio at the hospital.
There is no record of a priest hanging himself in the belfry of the old Lutheran church. Indeed, Lutheran churches do not have “priests”. Some locals have claimed that a priest hung himself in the belfry of the old church because he was upset that there were plans to sell the schoolhouse across the street. There is no record of this death, however.
Paranormal investigators, Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk investigated the church and schoolhouse in Caryville and gave it a “Not Haunted” grade.
Police will not hesitate to write a ticket (with a hefty fine attached) for anyone caught trespassing at the church and schoolhouse in Caryville and folks living nearby readily call the police if they see anything strange going on at this location. Get permission to visit the Caryville church and schoolhouse.
Ghosts and the Paranormal at the Church and Schoolhouse in Caryville, Wisconsin:
The ghost of a young boy is said to haunt the schoolhouse. Legends say that this boy was trying to escape an abusive father and froze to death inside the school sitting at his desk. Legend trippers claim that if you sit at his desk, you can feel his spirit “pass through you”.
Some people have claimed to be able to see the silhouette of a priest hanging in the window of the belltower at the church.
Dinges, P. (2007). The Truth Behind the Caryville Myths. Retrieved June 8, 2011 from (this is the article copied at the top) 
Shadowlord (1998). Haunted Places Index. Retrieved May 25, 2011 from
StrangeUSA (1901-2012). Old Caryville Church and Schoolhouse. Retrieved June 8, 2011 from

Now, I went out to the church and school on a couple different occasions.  And I did not pick up on sprites, I have always been able to.  And I didn't feel any difference in either building than it being a "normal" building.  My cousins got married in the church on what would have been my 11th Anniversary to my ex husband - and my grandparents 57th Wedding Anniversary.  I often say that my Grandmother - who died in 1999 - died so she could spend their anniversary with my Grandfather in Heaven.  It would have been their 50th that year.  

Anyway .....  I never felt anything around the Church or Schoolhouse.  But the bridge that went over the river.... in Caryville (going the back roads to Eau Claire) ....  it always made me nervous.   And that's the river they claim the Devil Dogs - or Hell Hounds - are, there, in Caryville.  I also never heard of this story until I was 18 to 20.  I lived in the area and never heard the stories.  I found out about it, by reading about it in a book.....  

The folks in the area - DEFINITELY do not talk about these legends.  They will deny it if they believe in it or not.  m,p0 

But it is history, and lore, from where we grew up.  It's interesting to say the least.  

There are some haunting in Eau Claire and Chippewa I'll have to tell you about too.

Location:  Caryville, Dunn County, Wisconsin
  • Some web sites erroneously refer to Meridean as 'Meridian' or 'Maridean.'
  • The island is on the Chippewa River, not the 'Meridian' River as some sites claim.
The Reputed History:  
  • The  ghost of a young girl named "Mary Dean" haunts the island and boat landing where she had committed suicide.
  • Shortly after the death of Mary Dean, three ferries mysteriously disappeared in that area, resulting in the ferry crossing being closed down.
  • Several teens have drowned while swimming at the boat landing.  Their deaths have been ruled as suicides.
  • At one time there was sanitarium on the island run by a doctor who owned several dogs.  These dogs haunt the area as "hellhounds," in other  words, as black phantom dogs with red glowing eyes.
  • Another story is that the dogs viciously killed their owner's child.
  • About 50 years ago, two youths who were parked in their pickup truck at the boat landing were killed by some type of beast.  Their bodies were never recovered.  The authorities later found their empty truck which was splattered with blood mingled with hairs from some unknown type of creature.
The Investigation:  

During the lumbering days, there was a town named Meridean on the island.  What is today used as a boat landing was at one time a ferry crossing where people traversed the Chippewa River to the island.
Historians have uncovered a number of stories about how Meridean got its name.  All of them make reference to a girl named "Mary Dean."  The favored story is that a Mrs. Dean and her charming, young daughter Mary were traveling on the Chippewa River by steamboat.  Mary won the hearts of many of the passengers during the journey.  She suddenly became ill and was taken ashore.  She died and was buried under a tree.  The area was then named "Meridean" to commemorate her.
  • Although there was once a thriving lumber town on the island, we have been unable to confirm the historicity of a doctor alleged to have had a sanitarium and dogs.  According to local historian Dick Feeney, there never was an sanitarium on the island.
  • We have been unable to find any documentation verifying the alleged disappearances of the ferries.
  • While it is certainly possible that swimmers have drowned there, we know of no documented cases.
  • We have found no evidence to confirm the story about the deaths of two people in a pickup truck.
The Reputed Phenomena:  
  • The ghost of Mary Dean has been spotted near the boat landing.
  • After dark, some people have heard the howling and gnarling of the hellhounds, others have seen the glowing red eyes of the beasts in the woods near the boat landing, and a few have actually seen the hellhounds running down the Caryville Road.
  • Other witnesses have reported hearing movement and screams come from the nearby woods at night and seeing a dark shadowy figure dart across the road.  Could this be "Blackie," the demonic figure reported at both the Caryvilleschoolhouse and cemetery?
  • According to an eyewitness, on one dark night there was a bonfire and a huge chair (similar to the statue at the Lincoln Memorial, only on stilts) across the road from the boat landing.  Three pairs of glowing red eyes could also be seen in the woods nearby. 
  • The Dare:  If you park your car near the boat landing, at the bottom of the hill below the Caryville Cemetery and shut off your headlights, the hellhounds will appear.
The Investigation:  
  • Our investigative team did hear a strange animal-like sound that emanated from the island.  The sound was unidentifiable and not comparable to any known animal sounds.
  • We did interview the eyewitness who saw the huge chair and glowing red eyes.  It is possible that the "chair" was actually a deer stand as this area is very popular with hunters.
  • The Meridean boat landing and island are popular places for camping and teen parties, so it's not uncommon for there to be bonfires in this area.  This could also account for the sounds of screams.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

EJ & E Railroad (part 2)

So while I was on Google looking up information on the EJ & E Railroad, I found a bunch of photos that I wanted to share, because it's a part of the history of my husband's family.

Trains and Box Cars ......

An EJ E switch engine moves cars yard Joliet's east side.

6 Brass Keys from Railroads, including the EJ & E in the top middle ....

I saw these, wish they were bigger images ...

My husband, when I told him I was going to share some history and such from the EJ&E Railroad, he said "The J" and I said "what?"  ... he says ... "It was just referred to as THE J all around the area,"

Vintage E J & E Railway oil can. The only information is regards to this railway was the ELGIN, JOLIET & EASTERN Railway of Illinois and Indiana.

The caption on this said it was a "Waiters Badge"

A hard item to find from the EJ&E rr. Tool check of some type with the number 72 on it.

10 year service pin from the EJ&E railroad, now taken over by the. Canadian National. Bottom ribbon says Elgin Joliet & Eastern Ry.

Barrington, IL Train Station

EJ&E Bridge Tower

Some Maps

EJ & E Railroad (part 1)

So in the last entry, I talked of how my husband's Grandparents (etc) worked for the Railroad in Joliet, Illinois ....

I found some really interesting information about the railroad, and some other blogs.   I wanted to make sure to share them ... the photos are amazing.

First there is THIS amazing site!!!

There is also this SITE .... STEAMLOCOMOTIVE(dot)com

I found this blog :  Zett's O Scale Train Layout  ... he was on a mission to create a replica of the Union Station and of EJ & E Railroad.  His Grandfather was a Conductor for the railroad.   But he shared some history also .....  on these blogs..... Only reason I'm posting the blogs because - in case he decides to delete his blog, I'd like to be able to reference them, and his photos he shared, especially if I find some bigger connection later on.  However; I am linking back to Zett's original posts!!  I feel like this is a huge find even though it doesn't directly pertain to my husband's family.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Employee's Picnic 1928

Here is a picture taken in the summer of 1928, showing the Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway 755 2-8-2 Mikado. According the the this locomotive was built by Alco Brooks in 1923.

This is a special picture for my family, showing my great grandfather James McArdle, who was an engineer on the 755. He is shown wearing a white cap in the picture, 6th from the left. At the EJ&E yearly picnic, different divisions of the railway would clean and decorate an engine, that would be entered into a contest. According to a letter my great grandfather wrote, the 755 lost this contest in 1928 to the Gary division engine 748. The contest turned serious in 1929, to which the 755 would emerge victorious (I will share some photographs of the 755 in 1929 in the future). The 755 is seen here pulling passenger cars that carried employee family members for the special occasion. This picture was taken in Plainfield, IL north of the grain elevator which still stands today, just south of route 59. The engine is draped in a patriotic red white and blue. The American Flags at the time had 48 stars, 6 horizontal rows of 8.
Posted by Zett at 11:25 AM 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Typical Days of the Past

In the early to mid 1900s, the downtown area of the City of Joliet was filled with people, businesses, and of course steam engines. Before the tracks were elevated, these locomotives passed right through the city on ground level. Back when train service was at its peak in the 1940s, who knows how many engines would storm through downtown each day. Since its construction in 1912, hundreds of thousands of steam engines roared past the Joliet Union Station, a sight that is now rarely seen. The last time a steam engine passed through Joliet, to my knowledge, was September 1992. I was 9 years old, and my dad did not take me out of school to see it. My dad went to see it though, along with my Uncle and Grandfather.

The above posted video was taken by John Rockey, posted with his permission. You can see his webpage at This video of the Santa Fe 3571 is rare look at a sight and sound that citizens of Joliet used to experience on a daily basis for over 70 years. In the background you can see the southeast face of the Joliet Union Station.
Posted by Zett at 2:46 PM 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Rock Island line at Joliet's Union Station

Sometimes I will look at an old building and just find it fascinating that 100 years ago life went on around that same building just as it does today. It is a completely different time, so many changes to everything, however there the building stands just as it did long ago. History is what makes Joliet special to me. I look at photographs like the ones shown below and can see a world that is familiar to me as it appeared to family members long past. Today if you stand at Joliet's Union Station, there is constant freight traffic moving north/south being pulled by Union Pacific and BNSF diesels. On the east/west tracks you will most likely see a Metra passenger train or a CSX freight train.

Flash back as recent as 62 years and you would see this. A Rock Island Lines 4-8-4 steam engine pulling a freight load eastbound. This shot is taken standing on the south side of the station facing west, looking toward the DesPlaines river. Today only the tracks closest to the platform pavers remains.

Posted above is the Rock Island 4-8-4 #5114 heading west. If you click on the picture above and open the larger version, you can clearly see the bell on the front of the engine swinging away. This picture is taken looking east, standing in roughly the same location described above. The switch tower seen in this picture still stands today, however its future at this time is uncertain.

It is always a treat coming across photographs like this. Special thanks to Lance Wales who gave me permission to repost photographs which are in his collection, original photos by Bruce MacDonald. You can view Lance Wales collection here.
Posted by Zett at 10:12 PM 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Whistle Operations

When the time does come to finally run some trains on my layout, I will run them in a prototypical manner. With that said, I am not an expert, and definitely have zero experience when it comes to actual train operations. So I have some learning to do, but that is part of the fun. In my recent quest to uncover some family train history, my Aunt and Uncle came across some old documents that belonged to my Uncles father. I know he worked on the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railway in at least 1941-1942, and then was hired on with EJ&E. Beyond that I don't know specifics at this time, we will see what I can uncover in the future. My Aunt and Uncle were kind enough to give me some pay stubs, and an EJ&E time table.

The table went into effect in 1942. Once again, I love history, and its amazing to me how much can change over 70 years, but its also interesting what does not change. Reading through this time table was very interesting. When it comes to engine operation, the 40 page booklet started with this inside the front cover:

Still the same today as it was long before 1942. Doing some research I learned that the typical crossing signal of 2 long, 1 short, and 1 long is morse code for the letter Q. This whistle signal was used when the Queen of England was on board a ship at sea, and the signal was sounded to make other ships aware that the queen was on board, signaling a yield to other ships. This practice eventually became universally known as a signal to yield, and was somehow picked up by the railroad industry. I have no idea if this is the entire history of the signal or not, but it makes sense. Some other common signals are as follows:

1 short - stopping
1 long - approaching station
2 short - 10-4 or acknowledge
1 short 1 long - inspect train
2 long - proceed forward
3 short - proceed reverse
4 short - warning or get off tracks

There are many more but when it comes to running a layout, these are the signals that would be most used in operation. I will share more from the time table in the future.
Posted by Zett at 10:20 PM 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Employee's Picnic 1928 - Part 2

Imagine what life would be like living back in the 1920s, or 1930s. Hard to do when compared to todays life of television, cell phones, we have things easy compared to 85 years ago. I guess that is what made the EJ&E employee picnics such a grand event. It seems that it was an event of complete joy and celebration. It seems that the build up, planning and preparation, made the event a highlight of each year.

I do not know too many specifics regarding the annual event, other than it took place for many years, going back at least as far as 1909. In part 1 I shared a photograph that is famous in my family and is a centerpiece of my personal collection. Finally, thanks to my sister, I now have our entire family collection scanned. My grandfather wrote on a few of the pictures, in some cases drawing arrows right through the middle of the photograph (awesome). Although I wish he would not have done this, at least I can view the pictures now and know exactly what I am looking at.

Here is a cab shot of my great grandfather James McArdle, who was an engineer on the 755. As I stated in part 1, the engine was "gaily decorated." That is in his words. According to him in a letter written to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the 755 was cleaned and decorated, all in a day and a half. The engine lost to the Gary Division engine 748, which was prepared for two weeks leading up to the picnic.

A shot of the front of the engine shows even flowers were used for decoration. American flags stand proudly over a curved base painted with the year 1928. Safety first is not a strange addition to an EJ&E locomotive, and was obviously a company priority, even during a day of fun.

My great grandfather is now standing on the left, posing for a picture with the fireman, standing in the center holding an oil can. I do not know who the individual is standing on the right. My great grandfather stated in his 1929 letter that the engineers and firemen would change into the "ice cream vendors" (white overalls). I would assume that they would then serve ice cream to family members and guests, and this is why they are wearing white hats. The first three pictures posted were taken in Plainfield, IL near the grain tower that still stands today.

The final two pictures I have to share show a crowd gathering during a yearly picnic. I am not sure of the date of these pictures, however on the back my grandfather wrote "EJ&E picnic Washington St. and Henderson Ave." This is an intersection in Joliet that is just southwest of the EJ&E east yard, and just east of the Joliet Union Station.

My guess is that these picture were taken prior to 1928. It appears that the crowd is gathering around a Northern Pacific box car. I do not know what the track arrangement was like at this area during that time. Today the tracks in this area are the old Rock Island line which is now a freight line used by CSX, and Metra which still operates a passenger service to Chicago.

The 755 makes a return to the employee's picnic for 1929. I have some amazing photographs of this engine to share in the future, as well as my great grandfathers complete letter to the B of LE. Stay tuned!
Posted by Zett at 2:54 PM 

**** NOTE ****  Wouldn't it be amazing - just thinking that DB's relatives are in those last two pictures????   They most likely are, since they worked there at the time.   

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Joliet Track Elevation Project - Rock Island Line

With the Union Station as the centerpiece of my layout, the track elevation project that began in 1908 and concluded in 1912 will be a major characteristic of my track plan. It is amazing to think that as recent as 100 years ago, the train traffic crusied directly through the downtown area, which at the time was the place to be in Joliet. In fact, the main Rock Island line sat directly next to the courthouse, and then passed directly through Jefferson St. just east of Chicago. I would like to know how loud and disturbing it would have been during that time to be trying to hold a trial with a steam engine crawling past, undoubtedly shaking the entire courthouse.

This first picture is taken from the clock tower of the old courthouse looking east. The street below is Jefferson St. and you can see the two main lines of the Rock Island crossing Jefferson St. Its hard to imagine the city center with this arrangement today.

Traveling further west, this is the old Joliet Rock Island station that was used prior to the construction of the Union Station. This picture is taken looking west.

Now moving even further west, here is a very early shot of the Rock Island line crossing the DesPlaines river prior to the construction of the lift bridge in 1930. The I&M Canal is on the right. This picture was possibly taken from an upper floor of the Joliet National Hotel which was on the corner of Jefferson (Exchange St. at the time) and Bluff St.

The construction of the track elevation brings the landscape of downtown Joliet to where it is today. The lift bridge was constructed in 1930 and at one time had two active lines. Today there is only one active line. This bridge has seen a lot of railroad history pass over it, everything from steam engines to the Rock Island Aero train.

Standing on top of the track elevation looking west, you can see where a second main line used to exist on the left.

Facing east from the same position you can see the gradual curve towards Union Station which is covered by the trees on the right. The new courthouse dominates this view. To imagine the track configuration 100 years ago, pretend these tracks instead of curving to the right, proceed straight towards the courthouse on ground level.

Trying to match the scenery of this picture will be a challenge on my layout just because of the dried weeds inbetween the rails. Matching the ballast color should be an easier task.

A peek into the past is offered with these next two photographs. I am not sure how long these tracks have been out of service, but it has been quite a long time. This is the Rock Island line over DesPlaines St. It appears these tracks curved down and ran south along the east side of the river.

I wonder what the last engine was to pass over these rails.

The opposite side of the main line facing east shows this downgrade which ran just past Joliet St. for a time. Some old pictures shows passenger cars parked on this line.

The tracks were elevated with a concrete wall which at some spots shows its age at 100 years, though overall it is holding up quite well.

The final shot for today is a view of the line crossing over DesPlaines St. where the Rock Island Lines logo continues to fade. The Rock Island is no more, however the main line above is still quite active. CSX freight crosses this path at least 6 times a day.

Posted by Zett at 12:03 PM

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Union Station 100th Anniversary Banquet

Some exciting news as the Blackhawk chapter of the National Railway Historical Society have announced a banquet to celebrate the 100 years of the Joliet Union Station. On October 14th 1912 a grand opening celebration was held at the Union Station. The program of events for that day will be recreated to mark this special occasion, everything down to the menu will be influenced by the 1912 banquet.

This is pretty exciting and I think it is a great way to honor the past and celebrate what is one of the greatest historical structures still standing in Joliet. I guess I know what I am doing October 14th. For more information visit
Posted by Zett at 9:35 AM 

His last entry I am just copy and pasting, that is why it looks a little different.   

Monday, March 18, 2013

EJ&E 765 - The Last of its Kind

I would like to say that the #765 Mikado in Gary Indiana is the last surviving EJ&E steam engine, but at this point, it is probably more accurate to say that it is the last existing one. With that said, it is still great that it exists, which is a miracle in itself.

After seeing pictures of the 765 online for years, I finally made it out to see it for the first time in person. For me, I instantly got chills down my back as I turned westbound on to route 12 just east of Broadway in Gary, and caught my first glimpse of the tender.

Even though she has not had a heartbeat in decades, gazing upon the 765 in person is a wonderful experience. Since its not every day most of us see a steam engine, you quickly forget how massive these pieces of machinery are. Below I am going to post a few picture showing the engine. I am not too knowledgeable about the workings of a steam engine and its parts, so enjoy the pictures.

Here is a close up shot of the front. The headlght and number boards are long gone. The old electrical wiring inside still exists behind this fixture to a certain degree.

Only a fraction of the cow catcher is still in place.

My nephew Emmett looks upon the fireman side of the locomotive. He said "The wheels are huge!"

Alco Reverse Gear, patented in 1915. The engine was built in 1929 by Baldwin Locomotive works.

The metal is getting pretty thin in a lot of places. Years of erosion are much more visible up close.

Not much left in the cab. See picture below for reference.

Inside the cab looking up at the ceiling.

I found this carved into a piece of steel, it says "J 765." I wonder when this was actually added.


Here is me an my nephew in the cab. He was afraid to touch any of the levers. Maybe next time.

Well, that is how she looks today. Like I said earlier, at least she still exists. The sad part is just seeing what has happened to the engine over time. Several items of note are missing, such as the bell, whistle, builders plates, several controls and pipes. Some were removed over the years by the city, others I am sure were stolen and sold for scrap. I can only hope that somewhere the city of Gary has the whistle and bell, and that they were not melted down never to be seen again. The cab windows were encased in wood, which has since rotted away. Pieces of rotting wood are still present in the cab. At one point the cab had sliding windows as well. All long gone.

Well, if you want to see what the 765 looked like in her past glory days, here you go. Most of these images are from the Blackhawk Railway Historical Society. You can purchase photographs from them. Please visit their webpage at

Now, the 765 was presented to Gary Indiana after the city requested a steam engine from the EJ&E to put on display. In 1948 the EJ&E sold the 765 to DM&IR where it saw service renumbered as 1330. In 1962 it was returned to pristine condition, numbered back to the EJ&E 765, and presented to Gary. If you observe the photographs below, you can see the care and pride that went into this engine. It is a shame when you compare these pictures to what remains today.

Believe it or not, this is the same engine. Immaculate condition.

Here is a shot inside the cab. They had each lever labeled. I would guess that hundreds of hours went into getting the engine into condition for the donation. I believe the man in the center of this picture is the Mayor of Gary, George Chacharis. You can see the sliding cab window in the background.

Here is 765 in service, unknown location.

Restored and ready for delivery.

 765 being delivered to its final resting place. Looks like a great crowd turned out for the show.

Of course my hope for the 765 would be that it somehow would return to Joliet and be placed on display in front of Union Station. The plans for upcoming construction around the station call for a display of an old engine or piece of railroad equipment. Having this as the center piece would be incredible. I am sure some people in Gary would have something to say about that though. With that said, someone could at least take the time to accurately refinish the paint on the engine. Right now the EJ&E and the number 765 is almost made with a pastel yellow. The numbers were painted on freehand. If you look at the care that went into the presentation of this engine, it is disrespectful. The Chicago Outer Belt Line logo should be repainted on the tender. This would at least be a start. Who knows, maybe one day I will win the lottery and can bring the engine home to Joliet.
I want to thank Zett for the time and effort in sharing this amazing history on his journey!!  Things like this give those that can't access it a major piece of joy, just to be able to share in the history!