railroads

WNIJ

Waterman is a railroad town. It began as a railroad station. It was named after a railroad employee. It still sees several freight trains pass through each day. But it also has its own unique railroad: The Waterman & Western.

Located in Waterman’s Lions Community Park, The Waterman & Western (also known as The Waterman Train, The Holiday Train, or simply Pete’s Train) has been bringing joy to visitors for 25 years. It is the brainchild of railroad enthusiast Pete Robinson, who knew from the age of five that he would someday run his own train.

As of this month, Illinois is required to have updated signage for emergency situations at railroad crossings. People can call the number on these standardized blue signs to report track obstructions or other safety issues at specific locations. If a crossing gate is malfunctioning, for example, railroad authorities need to know.

Flickr user Carl Drougge / "Räls och dimma, ett vinnande koncept" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois lawmakers are urging an increase in safety programs for rail operators. That’s despite the threat of state funding cuts to railroads.

A bipartisan pair of legislators say safety training is too important to be squeezed out of railway budgets, no matter what they're given by the state. They brought in Lou Jogmen, with the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, who says the state is especially at risk.

"Illinois remains in the higher realm of accidents and fatalities,” Logmen said. “Unfortunately, people aren't paying attention."

Historian: Rail Helped Illinois Thrive

Nov 21, 2012
Illinois Railroad Association

The difference between Illinois towns that grew and those that faded away, many times, was the presence of a railroad. That’s according to historian and chair of Western Illinois University's Department of History,  Simon Cordery.