Chicago Tunnel Company Railroad (website)



2015-06-26 11:22:53

The Chicago Tunnel Company Railroad is a website offering online information to collectors and historians on a unique and historic railroad which ran through the city of Chicago, United States in the early-20th century.

The website tells the story about a 60-mile, two-foot gauge electric railroad that operated 149 locomotives and over 3000 freight cars in small tunnels forty feet below the streets of downtown Chicago.


Phil O’Keefe’s collections

The website was created and is maintained by enthusiast and collector Phil O’Keefe

He maintains a steadily growing collection of all sorts of traction memorabilia including lanterns, whistles, headlights, keys, locks, fare boxes, fare registers, buttons, tokens, and paper. About ten years ago, he became especially fond of collecting cap and breast badges from traction lines all over the country.

After his enthusiasm for Chicago’s rail networks developed in the 1970s, O’Keefe became a member of the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin, Illinois. Throughout his years at the museum, he became involved in many different projects, from car restoration to track repairs.

Model making

Phil runs a business in which he builds highly-detailed scale models for railroads, corporations, and museums. Some of Phil's models and model building articles have appeared in Railroad Model Craftsman Magazine and Fine Scale Modeller Magazine.

He has built scale models for well known clients like the Thunderbird Museum, Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, and the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Phil is an artist, and his illustrations have appeared in several railfan and railroad publications like the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society's magazine First and Fastest.

Consultant to movie productions

The Illinois Production Guide lists Phil as a consultant to the movie industry. He specializes in railroad and industrial subjects. He has done research for the popular television program ER.

Phil has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Central Electric Railfans' Association, Key Lock and Lantern, and the Society for Industrial Archeology. He is married with three children and resides in the Chicago area.

History of the railroad

The Illinois Tunnel Company (later known as the Chicago Tunnel Company) started operating trains through the freight tunnels in 1906.

The small four wheel electric locomotives hauled pony freight cars between stores, office buildings, post office facilities, warehouses, factories, and railroad stations. The tiny cars carried packages, goods, mail, food, coal, cinders, and people.

Sections of the website

History of the Chicago Tunnel Company

Here, readers can learn about the History of the Chicago Tunnel Company from the beginnings of train operations until abandonment. The section includes a map of the tunnels and review statistics about train operations in the 1920's.

After abandonment

Of particular interest to collectors, this section of the website deals with what happened to the trains, freight tunnels and memorabilia after the tunnels were abandoned in 1959.

Explore the Freight Tunnels in the 1980's

Here visitors can see the freight cars, locomotives, signals, and track left behind many years after the tunnels were abandoned.

Other sections

Photographs and other content shows the highlights of the Central Electric Railfans' Association (CERA) fantrip in the freight tunnels in September, 2000. According to the website, these are the most recent photographs taken in the tunnels.

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