On February 2, 1952, the Burlington passenger train that had linked Dayton with Ottawa and other towns from Streator to Aurora for 82 years carried its last passengers. The service had dwindled to two trains a day, one northbound and one south. Cars and trucks had taken much of the express traffic, as well as the passengers. C. C. Tisler, a local historian who wrote for the Ottawa Republican-Times, wrote two articles about the demise of the dinky, saying:
The puffing switch engine, with its steam and smoke and clank and bang and roar also are vanished and been replaced with the plebian Diesels. The Burlington has gone modern – but old time railroaders are a bit nostalgic about the whole affair.
You can read the complete articles, with photographs, here.
The railroad track heading south on its way to Ottawa.
CB&Q passenger car and caboose
The railroad depot in Dayton, between the store on the left and the elevator on the right.
In 1869 the Ottawa, Oswego and Fox River Valley Railroad began purchasing the right of way through Dayton for their planned route from Aurora to Streator. The portion of the route that went through Dayton was not completed until about 1876.
The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy schedule in the Free Trader shown above lists a stop in Dayton. A passenger could board the train at 7:42 in the morning and be in Chicago at 10:35. After a day’s business or shopping, the 4:30 pm train would get one back to Dayton at 7:37. It made spending the day in Chicago an easy trip as nowhere in Dayton was far from the depot.
The CB&Q leased their route from Aurora to Streator, which passed though Dayton, from the O. O. & F.R.V. RR and in 1899 the O. O. & F.R.V. RR was bought by the CB&Q. The CB&Q assets were sold in 1999 to Illinois RailNet, which became Illinois Railway (IR) on May 1, 2005.