Rochelle Railroad Park - Rochelle Illinois

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One of the busiest freight rail transport intersections in America, the double cross in Rochelle Illinois has long drawn railfans from far and wide. With 100 plus trains traveling daily through this point you are sure to get up close and personal with a hulking giant of human engineering. The city of Rochelle has provided a park with an elevated platform for train viewing. The park includes two replica engines, a picnic shelter, fire pit (hobo jungle), restrooms, a gift shop, piped in audio from train dispatchers and engineers, and a train dispatching monitor. A railroad museum is in the works.

The Rochelle Railroad Park is located at the sputtering heart of Rochelle's downtown - only a few minutes off interstate 39 and highway 51. Any trip by Wisconsinites to points South should include a stop in Rochelle for a stretch and lunch break. Bring a picnic lunch to the train park or stop by one of Rochelle's many dinners and restaurants. Also, this is a good place along I39 to fuel up - prices for gasoline are significantly lower here than at other way points.







Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois

From all points East and West they come babbling a coded language of digits and acronyms, outfitted in loyal colors. Trainspotters. Trainfans. Steampunks. Deiselheads. They come to Rochelle Illinois. To the famed UP and BNSF double cross – a rare shape of four diamonds stamped into an unbearably flat and shapeless landscape.

It is nothing more than a happenstance intersection of two way traffic forming four corners. It is not even a grand junction; there are no wyes to turn right or left. But, these two mainlines which happen to swap their North and South destinations also happen to be owned by the two survivors, the two giants of rail transport – Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), and Union Pacific (UP). Together they send more than 100 trains a day through the Rochelle double cross – making this pocket of land the most consistent rail hot spot in North America.

… And so they come; and so they came. What was once a gravel triangle - a hobo jungle between the tracks became the hottest tourist destination in Rochelle ... drawing an amazing 50 people a day to Rochelle's sputtering downtown.

Wisely, the city accommodated its rail obsessed visitors with a pocket park. It is a wedge of grass ramped up to create a close and safe viewing area of the monstrous freight trains which thunder through.

Railfans took ownership and developed a visitor center and gift store and established exhibits of railway and hobo history - icons of hobo codes set around the perimeter of a picnic shelter as though stations of the cross. For railfans this wedge of grass is a holy place.

Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
For us laymen and tourists, it remains simply a good place to step out of the car on a monotonous journey across the bland landscape of central Illinois.

To stretch, and to let the kids jump around on a train engine exhibit. It is a photo opportunity. And, for a brief moment as the dirty face of a diesel engine charges through - we understand the power and scale of American commerce. Displayed here at the Rochelle double cross: the thrilling and frightening majesty of human ingenuity.

The ground beneath us trembles; then rumbles; and even before that rolling thunder fades we are back in the safety of our cars to set the cruise control and let it all pass us by again.

From the highway, the trains are  silent snakes slithering in the prairie grass.



Directions and Map




Address for your GPS: 124 North 9th Street, Rochelle, IL 61068
| Coordinates: 41.920602, -89.071170 |

From Milwaukee2 Hours
From Madison1.5 Hours
From Green Bay3.5 Hours
From Wausau3.5 Hours
From Minneapolis5.5 Hours
From Chicago1.5 Hours



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Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois

Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois

Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois

Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois

Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois

Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois

Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois

Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois
Rochelle Railroad Park, Rochelle Illinois




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