Mendota, IL (MDT)
In addition to a passenger waiting area, the building houses the Union Depot Railroad Museum where one can admire a working HO model of central Mendota in the 1930s.
783 Main Street
Mendota, IL 61342
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 23,736
- Facility Ownership: Mendota Museum and Historical Society
- Parking Lot Ownership: Mendota Museum and Historical Society
- Platform Ownership: BNSF Railway
- Track Ownership: BNSF Railway
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The current Amtrak station in Mendota is a brick structure. Mendota rail travelers originally used the Passenger House, a combination depot and hotel, which was built in 1853, as a place to change trains going to and from Chicago and St. Louis. The Passenger House burned on February 20, 1885; construction on a new Union Depot was started soon thereafter.
A festive banquet and ball with live entertainment opened the new depot on February 23, 1888. This large brick structure provided a hotel, restaurants and waiting rooms for passengers; and rooms for railroad employees. Most of this extensive building was torn down in 1942, except for the north end, which remained as a waiting room and ticket office.
The remnant of the Union Depot now houses the Amtrak station as well as a museum, thanks to H.D. Hume, who formed the Mendota Museum and Historical Society and provided the majority of the financing for the $400,000 restoration of the building. This non-profit group provided money to the city of Mendota to renovate and reopen the depot as the Union Depot Railroad Museum in 1997. Funding was also secured from a TIF grant from the city of Mendota. The platform work cost approximately $95,000. Restoration of the entrance to the parking lot and preservation of the original brick work is ongoing and estimated to cost $11,000. Additional work renovation and restoration work is continuing.
At the Union Depot Museum you will find a steam engine, tender, and caboose from the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q, now BNSF Railway) as well as a working HO model of the Mendota depot in the 1930s.
Mendota is a city in north-central Illinois, several miles north of the Illinois River, situated between two small lakes. The Native Americans in this area called it “mendota,” or “crossing of trails,” and so it is fitting that the town sprang up when the CB&Q Railroad built a line to cross the Illinois Central there in 1853. It is over this “charter line” of the Illinois Central that passengers traveled to St. Louis.
Incorporation of this city occurred the same year, and its livelihood began with and depended heavily upon the railroads. Some of the city’s early industries were making Mother Hubbard washboards and Schaller and Geobel buggies and carriages, as well as farm equipment and extra pale beer. The railroads also hauled farm equipment, and goods to the local farmers coming to settle the rich local bottom lands around the city.
In 1904, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad became the third line to come through Mendota and it remained working up until 1981. Its tracks have been removed, but there is a short section of former Illinois Central rails near the depot. The Illinois Central route was abandoned in 1985.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this facility, which is served by six daily trains.The Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr are financed primarily through funds made available by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Long Term Parking Spaces
- Pay Phones
- Short Term Parking Spaces
- Wheelchair Lift