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 zones.
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.