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About the Site

Welcome to the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Archive,

Back around 1997, I was learning various things on the computer, and one thing that I wanted to get into was web design. I needed to be able to do it for work, but I was also interested in possibly doing some sites for myself, just as a hobby or whatever... I thought it was really a cool way to reach people. Eventually I decided I would do a site for practice. But what would make a good subject?

I liked trains a lot when I was a kid. We rode the trains often when we lived in Chicago. Then when we moved out to the suburbs, I was happy to find out there was a railroad track right down the street from where we lived. I believe I discovered this when hearing the horn late one night. Eventually I decided I was going to go find that track and check it out.

It was the middle of winter and there was a lot of snow on the ground at the time. I was walking up the street in the general direction of where I thought the track might be... All of the sudden I heard a train horn... That must be it! I cut through a field, trying to wade my way through knee deep snow so I could see the train... I was trying so hard, I actually fell on my face. Just as I got close to a high fill that I assumed must be the track, three big orange engines came flying by with all these little brown cars behind them (years later I would find out these were taconite cars). I didn't realize it at the time, but I had seen my first EJ&E train. In fact for quite a while, I actually thought the railroad was the DTI (those were the only photos I could find where the engines were orange... but I figured it out eventually). That was the first of many EJ&E sightings over the next four years or so, and the late night #21 on its way to Waukegan was probably my favorite.

After 16 or so, trains weren't very important to me anymore. There were many other things that I was much more interested in. We eventually moved to California around 1985, and I didn't really think about trains at all for at least 10-15 years. But around the late 90's, I slowly started looking up train stuff on the web. I learned a little bit about what was happening with the EJ&E. I noticed there really wasn't anything major in the way of information for it though. So when I was looking for an excuse to practice doing web design, I decided that was probably as good a subject as any... So I was off.

That first site was nothing more than an experiment. I didn't take it that seriously at all. A few photos... A little info... It was a pretty hideous looking site to be honest, but I got better. I was surprised when I kept getting emails from people saying they liked the railroad, and really liked the site. I met numerous people this way, and in 1999 one gentleman in particular named John DePauw, suggested that maybe I should start one of those email lists that some people had for various railroads. (Yes, this was before there were 50 email lists and forums for every subject on earth)

Well... The rest is history. The site grew over the years and the email list now has 600 people at last count. Who knew practicing web design would lead to this? I've built many other sites over the years, and the EJ&E site has had to take a back seat now and again. But in 2006, I finally got around to rebuilding the whole site into this latest version. That included getting the site its own domain, and I also deciding to change the name from the "EJ&E Photo Archive", to just the "EJ&E Archive". There's so much more than just photos now, I thought that name was more appropriate. Now the site is bigger and better than ever.

So that's how the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Archive got started. Hopefully the site and the actual railroad itself, will be around for a while.

Thanks for visiting,

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