Deval Crossing


Located in the suburb of Des Plaines, Deval is surely the most unusual location in the north suburbs. Take the Kennedy Expressway (I-90) to the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) near O'Hare airport. Take the Tri-State north to U.S. Rte. 14 (Dempster Street). Head west about a mile on Rte. 14 to Graceland Street and turn left. At Thacker Street, turn right, cross the tracks and turn right on First Street (at Prairie Avenue, First Street jogs to the right). The junction is just a few blocks at the end of First Street.

The junction can also be reached by taking a Metra/UP Northwest Line commuter train from the Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago (Madison and Canal Streets) to the DesPlaines station. The junction is about a half mile to the west.

The Railroads

Three lines intersect here, forming a triangle of diamonds--each about 100 or so yards apart. Union Pacific's ex-Chicago & North Western triple track Northwest Line crosses Canadian National's ex-Wisconsin Central, ex-Soo route from Wisconsin. UP runs northwest-southeast while CN is roughly north-south. Both are crossed by Union Pacific's ex-C&NW "New Line" travelling northeast-southwest here. The New Line (or "High Line" as it's sometimes called) is an all-freight line that was built to bypass Chicago and allow trains on UP's former C&NW freight line from Wisconsin to access Proviso Yard. Canadian Pacific (former Soo Line) trains also use the line on trackage rights, accessing it northeast of here at Techny and taking it to Bensenville Yard. South of the junction the New Line wraps around the west side of O'Hare Airport, and at Bryn Mawr interlocking it splits--one route leading to Bensonville and the other continuing further south to Proviso.

The Northwest Line is almost entirely commuter trains (or "scoots" as they're called by rail personnel). It is quite busy during rush hours, with hourly service during mid-day (less frequently on weekends). The line continues northwest, with most commuter trains terminating at Crystal Lake. A few continue on to Harvard near the Wisconsin line, but beyond there it is a minor freight route running to the Wisconsin cities of Janesville and Madison. The CN/WC line sees around 20 or 25 road freights daily, and also features commuter service that was initiated in 1996. Known as the "North Central" line, the commuters run north to Antioch, just below the Wisconsin border. However, service on this route is limited to weekdays, and Deval is not within walking distance of the nearest station. The New Line is also busy with both UP and CP freights, mostly the latter. A rough guess would be about 25 trains a day. There is a connection between the New and Northwest lines about a mile west of the junction; most of the Northwest Line freight traffic from Wisconsin uses it, thus avoiding the junction. Deval Tower was a handsome structure that controlled the junction and was staffed by UP employees. In May, 2005, a fire gutted much of the structure and destroyed the interlocking machine. The tower was demolished a few years later.

With its acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, CN traffic on the ex-WC line through here has declined sharply. Nearly all trains from Wisconsin leave the line at Leithton, about 15 miles north of here, and travel on the EJ&E main to their new terminals at Joliet and Gary, Indiana.


Metra/UP Northwest: 161.040
CN/W 161.295, 160.215
UP New Line: 160.485, 161.040


If you follow the above directions for getting here by auto, you will be near the southwest quadrant of the CN/WC and UP/Northwest diamonds. This location is not ideal, but is the best available for that crossing. North Avenue leads west from 1st Avenue and on its north side is a large industrial building whose east half is occupied by UP. Do not enter this area.

For the UP/NW and UP/New Line crossing, some visitors park on North Avenue and walk north along the west side of the industrial building to the UP/NW tracks. A rutted, one-lane road runs west to the UP/NW and UP/New Line crossing. It is not clear whether the road is on railroad property, but no problems have been reported. Caution is advised here and you may feel that exploring this area is not worth the potential risk. The surrounding neighborhood poses no safety problems.

For more on CN/WC, see Franklin Park. See also Leithton at Other North / Northwest Suburban Junctions.

For more on the Metra/UP Northwest Line, see Mayfair and Clybourn at Other North Side Junctions. See also Barrington at Other North / Northwest Suburban Junctions.

For more on UP's New Line, see Bensenville / Bryn Mawr. See also Techny and Valley Junction at Other North / Northwest Suburban Junctions.

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