"Bluebird Capital of Illinois"
Chatsworth, Illinois is a small town situated in Iroquois County along the Toledo, Peoria, and Western Railway. The town's original founding dates back to June 8th, 1859 by Zeno Secor and Cornelia Gilman who were on the Board of Directors for the constructing company for the Peoria and Oquawka Railroad, who was a predecessor of the TP&W Railway. The name Chatsworth is thought to be derived from the English 'Chatsworth House'. Trains were in service along the Peoria and Oquawka Railroad before the town was finished being laid out, making Chatsworth a railroad town which it owns in tribute with a TP&W caboose on display in downtown.
During the plating of Chatsworth, designers took cues from other nearby towns such as Fairbury along the P&O Railroad.
By 1879 the Kankakee and Southwestern Railroad made its way down to Chatsworth, and crossed the now TP&W Railroad just by the grain elevator. At this time, Chatsworth was about at 1,000 residents and had several cottages and larger homes in the area tending to it's newly grown population. Like many small railroad towns, Chatsworth enjoyed passenger service along the TP&W with farmers finding local market in town and statewide via the railroads.
Eventually the Kankakee and Southwestern would end up absorbed into the Illinois Central Railroad who then would sell the line off. It is currently operated as the northern end of the Bloomer Line, a local short line.
The TP&W Railroad would change several hands of ownership over the years, and is currently operated by Genesee & Wyoming Railroad as a parent company under it's original name.
Track Profiles in Chatsworth, IL
Below is from a 1948 topographical map of the area. Sadly Chatsworth is cut between two different maps and isn't spliced evenly so we actually lose some of the south end of town. It may be hard to see, but the map shows the TP&W having a siding in town on the north side of the mainline that crosses the IC. This north siding also was the depot track, as the depot sat center of town north of the TP&W tracks. There is also a siding to the south in downtown likely for offloading at an industry or freight depot.
Below is a track profile of the Illinois Central Railroad through Chatsworth, IL. This shows the siding at the north end of town, and then another two sidings just north of the junction with a depot sandwiched in between the western siding. The two west sidings remain, used to stage cars to be loaded or unloaded, and the east one was removed. This profile does not show the interchange track that exists in the northwest corner of the diamond. Special thanks to Skip Luke, an ex-Illinois Central Railroad employee who provided these charts. This chart provides detail on the three tracks seen north of the interchange on the above profile.
TP&W Railroad in Chatsworth, IL
As already mentioned, the TP&W Railroad operated trains before the town was even outlined under it's original name of the Peoria and Oquawka Railroad.
The Chatsworth, IL Wreck