“All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields”
Steve Goodman wrote those words while aboard along a passenger train that was actually named “City of New Orleans”. It ran from Chicago to New Orleans. I couldn’t help hearing the song (Arlo Guthrie’s version) as we drove north along Interstate 57, which the railroad tracks parallels.
In fact, I saw the very same “graveyards of rusted automobiles” that Guthrie’s folksy voice interpreted.
At the Kankakee Train Station there’s a small museum that pays homage to the railroad’s history and the history of the city.
The two-story red brick depot pictured above was built in 1898. It actually replaced a wooden structure built in 1853. The depot became fell into disrepair in the 1970s, which lead to the city’s purchase of the building from the Illinois Central in 1990.
The depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
Today, the depot is a venue for concerts and city events.
While in Kankakee, be sure to get some ice cream at the Dairy Queen location that started the entire franchise.