In 1864, the first train came through Lisle and the town became directly connected to the comings and goings of trains.

The area around the tracks was named Lisle Station, this referred to the train depot and all the yard areas, platforms, and railroad-owned buildings around it. The businesses along the Southwest Plank Road (Ogden Avenue), once a key route through Lisle shifted to the north and south side of the tracks (Front Street & Burlington Avenue). Lisle is along the Aurora-Chicago line, which was built by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, known today as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF). 

Lisle’s first depot was built in 1864, then was destroyed by a fire in 1874. The railroad quickly rebuilt the depot and this is the depot that stands today. 

This is the original Waiting Room for people who were shipping their goods by train. Passenger travel was not common when the Depot was built, so the room did not need to be very large - just a few benches and one railroad potbelly coal stove to keep the area warm.

This was the office for the station’s manager, called the Station Master or Agent. The station master kept most of his work materials here, such as the ticket case, telegraph sounder and key, work desk, and a large bay window to monitor the tracks.

People did all kinds of transactions with the station master at the ticket window. You could purchase train tickets, send letters, mail and pick up packages, and even purchase money orders.

This large room was used as a temporary holding room for things being shipped into and out of Lisle. Locals dropped off their items on the front or back platform to be shipped and paid the station master.

Lisle Depot baggage room door (1874) by Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy (CB&Q) RailroadThe Museums at Lisle Station Park

The Depot's station agent stored packages to be sent and picked up in the large Baggage Room. The doors had to be wide enough to fit large items, like a baggage cart full of luggage and supply boxes.

Many Burlington train depots contained a one-floor apartment for the station agent or others to rent. When the Lisle Depot was rebuilt in 1874, it was outfitted with a two-story apartment, which was uncommon and relatively luxurious.

In the earlier years of the Depot, formal parlors were very common. This space was used only for hosting guests and for family bible readings. As this practice became less common, later families living in the Depot used this as a living room.

The pantry was used for bulk food storage before and after cooking family meals. The Depot’s current basement was added when the building became a museum in the 1980s, but the doorway behind you used to lead to the apartment’s root cellar or ice cellar.

This common space was used for food preparation, family meal time, and even completing homework. The back door led outside to access the hand-powered water pump and the outhouse, shared with the station’s passengers and staff.

Burlington sometimes offered a discounted monthly rent for families that agreed to upkeep the building and grounds. These “Custodians” were responsible for sweeping, mopping, lighting the Waiting Room’s coal stove each morning, mowing the grass, and other tasks.

The Burlington Railroad renovated this building over the years based on the needs of the time. Different materials were added to suit the needs of workers and customers. Most of the renovations were placed on top of existing work, so much of the wood you see is original.

Railroad speeder vehicle Railroad speeder vehicle (1800) by CB&QThe Museums at Lisle Station Park

Railroad Vehicles

In the 1800s, railroads connect places near and far quickly for the first time. The people who worked for the railroads – in the trains, stations, and yards – needed easy ways to move employees and heavy equipment from place to place. We have a few vehicles that are displayed and stored at the museum at different times of the year in order to preserve them. The tracks in front of you were originally located at Eola (“End of Line, Aurora”), an unincorporated community about 10 miles west of Lisle that held a Burlington Railroad yard. 

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The Museums at Lisle Station Park

A cooperative effort of the Lisle Park District, Lisle Heritage Society, and Village of Lisle

921 School Street, Lisle, IL 60532

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Phone: 630-968-0499

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