The Chi-Town Union Station is a privately owned, 30- year
collection of exquisite O-Scale trains . When the collection
outgrew available storage space in 1999, the current 10,000+
square foot building was purchased and the complex layout
planning and construction began.
From the beginning it was intended to be an exhibition layout
with long wide aisles allowing comfortable viewing for everybody
from small children to adult.
At any given time, computers may be operating
30 to 35 trains
with perhaps another dozen operated manually by volunteer
engineers. The layout was designed with lots of tunnels, tracks
are often six layers deep, and a large percentage of installed
track is out of sight of viewers. It is purposely difficult for
viewers to predict which portal a train entering one tunnel will
emerge from or even on which side of the viewing aisle it will
be seen again.
The layout models five major railroads spanning all four US time
New York Central
Baltimore and Ohio
Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe
Denver and Rio Grande Western
All directly, or with joint
operations, served Chicago, the world’s largest and busiest
railroad hub in the 1950s and 1960s, years which were both the
zenith and the nadir of luxury travel by rail in America.
Despite operating many freight trains and its hallmark long coal
drags, Chi-Town is focused on passenger trains. The crown jewel
of the layout is the Chi-Town Union Station, a consolidation of
all seven major passenger stations in downtown Chicago at mid
century. Constantly arriving and departing the huge station
under computer control are dozens of exact scale models of the
famous luxury trains of more than two dozen major railroads.