[Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway]
Built by 1887, this wood-framed depot was located originally on the south side of the railroad tracks at Center Street, approximately 1.25 miles east of the present site. Now sited along a later spur line, the depot originally served the main line of the railroad. This depot served as a combination freight and passenger station.
The original railroad line was the Joliet, Aurora & Northern (J A & N) Railway that began its operation in 1884 or 1885. On March 22, 1884, Sen. Henry H. Evans of Aurora; Erwin E. Wood of Plainfield; Daniel H. Newton, president of Massachusetts Screw Co.; and his son, James, of Holyoke, Massachusetts, met at the home of Daniel H. Robertson in Joliet, Illinois to sign the articles of agreement that would create the J A & N Railway Company. This new railway was proposed to run from the Indiana state line westerly through Joliet and Aurora to the banks of the Mississippi River opposite Dubuque, Iowa. The company managed to build only the portion between Joliet and Aurora but offered morning and evening passenger train service six days a week.
It is unclear when this depot was constructed; however, it was erected sometime between 1884 and 1887. An 1886 contract identifies the sale of the land for the Center Street location while other historic records note the improvement of the depot at Center Street in 1887. It is unclear whether the depot was constructed for the E J & E Railway in 1886-87 at Center Street.
The Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company of Illinois was created in March 1887 and, one month later, began operation. The E J & E line extended westward from the Illinois-Indiana state line towards Elgin, utilizing the completed section of the J A & N Railway line. By 1893, the E J & E line, a 130-mile arc between Waukegan and Porter, Indiana, running through Elgin and Joliet, became known as the "Chicago Outer Belt Line." Streetcar lines diminished the need for railroad passenger service in the area. Around 1907, the E J & E discontinued passenger trains, but not passenger service. Also at that time, the street crossing at Center Street was constructed, providing a connection between Lockport and Main streets. By the 1930s, the line was commonly known as "The J." Active operation of Plainfield Depot No. 4 ceased in 1978.
In 1996, the Plainfield Historical Society began efforts to preserve the depot, culminating in its removal to this site in 1999. The depot was relocated and restored through the generous donations of time, talent, energy and financial resources of many individuals, businesses, and organizations. Installed in 2009, the 1956 caboose; 1978 freight car (boxcar) which was built especially for carrying large rolls of newsprint; and the 1952 Fairmont Motor Car, which was originally sold in June 1952 to the New York Central Railroad for $513, were all added to the historic setting for the last, wood-framed E J & E depot remaining along an active rail line.
To request a tour of this Depot, please call: 815-436-4073 or stop by the Plainfield Historical Society's Museum at 23836 (217) W. Main Street on Saturday afternoon from 1-4 PM.