The Metra board honored Vallorie O'Neil, 60, at its Friday morning meeting.
She was actually the first female engineer for the Burlington Northern line, before the Metra system existed.
O'Neil got her start with the old Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad, where she was a car clerk for several years.
O'Neil said she was overwhelmed by Friday's honor.
"I love the railroad - I am a railroader - I tell people who come behind me, being a locomotive engineer is not a job - it is a career," said O'Neil. "I was proud to serve you as a locomotive engineer at Metra."
During high school, O'Neil overheard some chatter about how much engineers were paid.
A girlfriend said she was going to marry an engineer, but O'Neil told her: "No, I'm going to be an engineer."