Burnham Junction

Location

Located along Brainard Avenue, Burnham is in the far-south Chicago neighborhood of Hegewisch. To get there, take I-94, the Ford (or Calumet) Expressway, and exit at 130th Street. Head east for about a mile to Torrence Avenue. Take the first right after Torrence; the road then curves left and becomes Brainard Avenue. Continue one mile to the junction and the Hegewisch commuter station. The junction is at the station. Incidentally, State Line Crossing is about a mile further--turn right at Dearborn Street.

Burnham can also be reached by taking a South Shore commuter train to Hegewisch from Randolph or Van Buren Street stations in downtown Chicago. Randolph is where South Shore trains terminate and is now officially known as "Millennium Station."

The Railroads

The Chicago, South Shore and South Bend electric, the last surviving interurban, and Norfolk Southern's ex-NKP main line parallel Brainard, heading northwest into Chicago. They are crossed here by a north-south single track line known as the South Chicago & Southern (sometimes called the "Bernice Cutoff"). At one time, it was a Pennsy line (later CR, now NS) that connected their Panhandle route to the south (at Bernice Junction) with the Fort Wayne main line near Lake Michigan (Colehour Junction). Both the north and south ends of the SC&S have been abandoned--as has the Panhandle itself--but the middle segment is still in operation. This line sees only occasional traffic; Norfolk Southern and Indiana Harbor Belt locals use it to access NS's River Branch serving several industries north of here along the Calumet River. Before the north and south ends were torn up, Amtrak trains from Indianapolis used SC&S, but when Conrail insisted on abandoning it, Amtrak reluctantly agreed.

Until the early 1980's, the Chicago and Western Indiana route that carried Erie, C&O and Monon trains into Chicago was sandwiched between the South Shore and NS, but those tracks have been removed. However, the NS main line has been realigned and now runs on the old C&WI right of way. Apparently this was done to provide more space for Norfolk Southern's auto rack loading facility north of Hegewisch. The South Shore's Burnham Yard is just south of the junction and is easily seen from Brainard Avenue. Nearly all of the NS and South Shore trains seen here can also be viewed at State Line; State Line is better for NS trains, Burnham for South Shore traffic. However, State Line is the best spot for the occasional South Shore freight movement.

NS runs about 30 trains a day. South Shore passenger trains, featuring handsome stainless steel coaches, run frequently during rush hours but are relatively sparse during the midday hours. A tower once stood at the crossing. It burned down in the 1970's and was replaced by a trailer which inexplicably lasted until 1995. The junction is now remotely controlled.

Frequencies

CSS&SB: 161.010, 161.355
NS: 161.250

Accessibility

There is plenty of parking space at the station. Trespassing is not a problem if you stay on the station platform. However, photography is difficult since the station is north of the tracks. Southbound movements on the SC&S are awkward too.

For more on Norfolk Southern (ex-NKP) junctions, see Wayne / Spriggsboro Junction, Hohman Avenue and State Line Crossing. See also the Other Northwest Indiana Junctions page for Van Loon and Osborn, and Other South Side Junctions for Pullman.

For more on the South Shore, see State Line Crossing, Willow Creek / Burns Harbor, and Miller and Ogden Dunes station on the Other Northwest Indiana Junctions page.

For more on the South Chicago & Southern, see the Calumet Park listing on the Other South Suburban Junctions page.

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