Chi-Town Union Station is a modified walk-around exhibition
layout. Once the visitor enters the four to seven foot wide
viewing aisle, tracks and trains surround the viewer. Tables are
to the left and right, knee high, waist high, shoulder high, and
higher carrying tracks from nine foot overhead down to and
beneath the aisle floors.
The sight lines across the huge room are broken by a free-form,
90-foot oval cyclorama painted with mountainous rural
landscaping on one long side and the 1950s Chicago sky line in
perspective on the other. The cyclorama encloses a tower which
is interlaced with tunnels and trackage but also houses power
rooms, computer facilities, maintenance benches, break room,
staff egress to all areas of the layout, and on the upper level,
the main control room.
To date, approximately 80% of the layout is landscaped to a
reasonable level with another 15% scheduled for rough-in during
the summer of 2014. Another ten years of work lies ahead before
this work in progress will be finished.
The layout already fills about 95% of the building with 10,000
ft. (of 11,000 ft. planned) of track in place, much of it hand
laid, and layered as many as six layers deep in numerous
places. Two hidden helixes, one with more than 900 degrees of
turn are used to abruptly change elevation of entire trains.
The Chi-Town Union Station’s 700 feet of 12 parallel
double-ended tracks and its complex throats at either end are
strongly reminiscent of the Chicago Union Station. When
completed it will showcase three enormous structures; a complex
passenger facility with the ticketing and passenger waiting area
almost six feet wide, a giant railway post office facility, and
a Railway Express Agency covering about 20 ft. of real estate.