The junctions listed below don't warrant separate pages, but may
still be of interest to some people.
Van Loon is four miles north of Griffith and about six miles south of Pine Junction. Located just off Cline Avenue in the west end of Gary, Indiana, the junction is in the shadow of I-80/94, which passes overhead. Exit the expressway at Cline Avenue (Rte. 912) and head south on Cline to Ridge Road. Turn left and proceed to Colfax St. Turn left on Colfax and head north about 2 miles. You'll cross some railroad tracks (an interchange yard for the two railroads that cross here). Turn left at the first street past the tracks. Follow the road until it ends at a blocked crossing. The diamonds are about 100 yards to the northwest, but unfortunately this is as close as you can get nowadays. A road-closure sign and gate block the street that once crossed the NS and CN/EJE tracks just south of the diamonds and a security camera has been installed. Do not proceed beyond this point. Although there are some dangerous areas in Gary, the neighborhood around Van Loon is fairly safe.
Norfolk Southern's ex-NKP main line crosses the Canadian National's Elgin, Joliet and Eastern ("The J") main line. CN/EJE is double track and travels north-south at this point, while NS is single track and travels in a northwesterly direction toward Calumet Yard on the southeast side of Chicago. Until it was torn down several years ago, a tower stood in the southwest quadrant. Traffic through here has increased since CN acquired the J. In addition to roughly 25 trains a day on NS, another 20 or so can be seen on CN/EJE. A connection in the northeast quadrant permits CN/EJE trains to access the yard along the NS main. On most weekdays, there is interchange traffic between the two roads, mostly in the form of steel shipments. There is another connection in the southeast quadrant, but it is not visible from the junction.
Pine is one of the busiest and most unusual locations in the area, but in January, 2009 with Canadian National's acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, and stepped up security measures by both CSX and CN, this location is no longer recommended. There's nothing wrong with driving through the area to get a good look, but stopping for any amount of time might get you in trouble. All of the property in the area is railroad-owned.
If you want to take a look at Pine, take I-80/I-94, the Borman--or Tri-State--Expressway, to Indiana Rte. 912. Exit and head north about two miles to US Route 20. Take the eastbound exit (5th Avenue) and proceed east two miles to Clark Road (there's a stoplight at the intersection). Turn left and go north across the South Shore Electric tracks to Industrial Highway, the first stoplight. Turn left, go under the tollway and across the Grand Calumet River--the word 'grand' is a misnomer--and continue about a block until you come to a street leading off to the right (go slow here, it's easy to miss--there's an "adult" book shop on the corner). Turn right and head north; the street here is the continuation of Clark Road. The Pine area is about a mile.
The single track you cross when entering the area is a branch line of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, now of course part of CN. The branch, known as the City Track, serves as a connector between CSX and the CN/EJE main line, and also heads east to serve some local industries in Gary. The first double track line crossing Clark Road is the CSX main from the east. In the old days, it was at this point where the B&O became the B&OCT (Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal), a major terminal road. It is now all CSX, although B&OCT still exists on paper and is the official owner of trackage west of here.
The parallel double track line just beyond CSX is Norfolk Southern's ex-Conrail, ex-NYC Chicago Line which heads northwest into Chicago. Beyond it are several more tracks crossing Clark Road that form a small yard ("Pine Yard") used by NS and CN/EJE to interchange cars. About 40 yards beyond the yard tracks, Canadian National's EJ&E main line crosses over Clark Road. Originating at Kirk Yard, just to the east, it heads west for about a half mile and then turns south, crossing over both NS and CSX on its way to Griffith Junction. Kirk Yard is a large hump yard and has become CN's major terminal in the Chicago area.
Just beyond the main at ground level is is CN/EJE's lakefront branch. It runs west from Kirk and passes through Indiana Harbor (CP 502), where it parallels the NS main. This line serves steel mills in East Chicago and runs further into the South Chicago area. At one time it served the now-shuttered US Steel South Works mill on Chicago's south side.
The NS and CSX lines each feature over 60 trains a day. Amtrak is a major player here (but mostly in early morning, late afternoon and at night). The Detroit, Grand Rapids and Port Huron trains can be seen here on NS, as well as the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited. An occasional Indiana Harbor Belt freight can be seen on the NS line; IHB has trackage rights to the Burns Harbor industrial area about twelve miles east of here. With CN's acquisition of the EJ&E, the overhead main has seen increased traffic. About 20 trains a day use it.
About a mile to the northwest, the CSX main curves away from NS and heads due west to Dolton and Barr Yard. However, a branch leads off the main near this point and joins NS at CP 501 (thus enabling some CSX freights to use NS tracks into Chicago). In the old days, the branch continued beyond CP 501, paralleling the NS tracks on the south. It then crossed NS at Indiana Harbor and continued northwest, sandwiched between NS and the lakefront branch. B&O passenger trains used this route into Chicago.
About a mile east of Clark Road, there is a crossover permitting westbound traffic on NS to access CSX rails. CSX and Canadian Pacific trains that feed into NS at Porter Junction (from CSX's ex-Pere Marquette line) use trackage rights to this point. Most then transfer to the CSX main, athough a few continue further on NS. Also east of here is Curtis Yard, a small interchange facility between the CSX main and the CN/EJE branch into Gary.
Historical Note: The CSX/ex-PRR route on the above map was once the Pennsylvania Railroads mighty Ft.Wayne mainline. It has been abandoned in these parts and plans call for the removal of the ROW as part of the Gary airport expansion. The NS/ex-Wabash line once ran east to Montpeliar, OH, but now is abandoned east of Gary. Plans call for feeding the ex-PRR into the ex-Wabash as part of a project by NS to gain easier access to CN's Kirk Yard. Trains will transfer from the Wabash to the CN/EJE City Track to reach the mainline to Kirk. For more on this, see the Tolleston and Clarke Jct descriptions below.
Pine is set in a diverse area of factories, mills, railroads, powerlines, ponds, woods and native American plant and animal species, all of them somehow managing to coexist.
Listed below from north to south are four junctions on the Indiana Harbor Belt's double track Kankakee Line. The first two are in East Chicago, the others in Hammond. All are south of CP 502 (Indiana Harbor), where the line begins, and are located along Kennedy Avenue. The Indiana Harbor Belt operates the track from CP 502 to Osborn. A couple of miles south of Osborn ownership changes to NS. In the old days this route was known as the "Egyptian Line" because it extended to Cairo and the area known as "Little Egypt" in southern Illinois. The segment from CP 502 to Danville, Illinois, was officially known as the Chicago, Indiana & Southern and was controlled by New York Central. Nowadays, the line terminates at Schneider, Indiana, where it connects with Norfolk Southern's ex-Conrail, ex-NYC Kankakee Belt. From Schneider to Danville, the track remains but most of it is out of service.
From Chicago, take I-90 (the Dan Ryan Expressway, the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road) to Exit 5 in Hammond. Head south on Calumet Avenue one mile to Chicago Avenue (Indiana Rte. 312). Turn left and proceed about two miles to Kennedy Avenue. Calumet Junction is a block past Kennedy. The other three are strung out along Kennedy to the south. Alternatively, you can approach from the south by taking I-80/I-94 to the Kennedy exit and then heading north to Osborn.
The junction is in the confusingly laid out city of East Chicago, Indiana; don't try to explore the area without a map. The name also causes confusion. This crossing is sometimes mistaken for Calumet Park Junction in Illinois.
The north-south Kankakee Line here is crossed by CSX's B&OCT busy double track main line, which parallels Chicago Avenue. Just north of the junction is IHB's Michigan Avenue Yard, which serves the mills and factories along Lake Michigan. Entering the junction from the southeast is the Whiting branch of Canadian National's Elgin, Joliet & Eastern. The track crosses CSX and IHB, runs along the west side of Michigan Avenue Yard and then heads north to the industrial area near the lake. IHB has trackage rights on the Whiting Branch north of the yard.
The CSX line is by far the busiest with over 60 trains a day. Besides IHB transfers, the Kankakee Line also features road trains of NS and Canadian Pacific. A typical day on the Kankakee sees 20 to 25 trains, about equally divided between transfers and road trains. The CN/EJE branch sees only occasional traffic. Calumet tower was the last active interlocker in Indiana. It was shut down in March, 2013, and demolished a month later.
The junction is located just north of Chicago Avenue and just east of Kennedy Avenue. The southwest quadrant area is accessible from Chicago Avenue and enables you to stay clear of IHB property. It offers some nice photo opportunities in the afternoon. Calumet is a good spot for trains, but while the neighborhood is not dangerous, a little caution is still advisable.
Located alongside Kennedy Avenue, Grasselli is about a mile south of Calumet. Here, the Kankakee Line is crossed by an lightly used CN/EJE branch line running roughly northeast to southwest. The line originates about three miles to the east at Cavanaugh Junction where it departs the J's main line. At Shearson--just east of Grasselli--the J's Whiting Branch joins it. A connector at Shearson runs between the two lines forming a wye arrangement. This line once ran west to State Line Crossing, but now terminates at Indianapolis Boulevard, about a mile to the west. An abandoned route belonging to the IHB once ran through this area south of and parallel to the Cavanaugh line and connected with the Kankakee line at Grasselli. The line was torn up in the 1980s. A couple of industrial spurs also connect with the Kankakee here and see fairly frequent use.
Grasselli tower (see photo at right) was closed by IHB in November, 2007. In its last days, it was open only during daylight hours on weekdays. Grasselli is now remotely controlled by IHB's East Dispatcher (Shearson, however, is controlled by J dispatchers). By far the most interesting aspect of the old Grasselli interlocking were the manually operated rods that worked the signals and switches. They are now gone, as is the tower itself. It has been moved to the Hoosier Valley Rail Museum in North Judson, Indiana where it has been restored to operating condition.
Traffic is very light on CN/EJE, and the Kankakee Line is better viewed at Calumet.
Just over a mile south of Grasselli, Gibson is located along Kennedy Avenue at 161st Street. The Kankakee Line here crosses the east-west Indiana Harbor Belt main line on which CSX has trackage rights. At Ivanhoe, about three miles to the east, the ex-NYC, ex-Michigan Central "Porter Branch," acquired by CSX in the Conrail breakup, crosses the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern main line, as does a little-used IHB branch from Gary (for more on Ivanhoe, see the description below). Between Ivanhoe and Gibson, the two lines converge and become the IHB east-west main line. West of Gibson the Michigan Central tracks, which at one time paralleled the IHB, are mostly gone.
The bulk of the traffic here is on the northern leg of the Kankakee Line and the western leg of the IHB main. Connector tracks are located in the northwest and southeast quadrants of the junction, and a third, little-used connector is in the northeast quadrant. The IHB's headquarters building and shops are located here just south of the crossing. The shops area includes a still-active roundhouse and turntable built in 1906. Only a third of the stalls are used to service locomotives; the rest have been converted into offices and storage sites. There are trespass signs at the shops, and you should stay clear of the area. The IHB's Gibson Yard is directly west of the shops area, and handles auto rack traffic.
Access is the chief problem with this junction. The parking lot at the headquarters building is devoid of trespass signs and affords a view of the junction from about 50 yards. However, you might be questioned by suspicious IHB security officers if you spend any amount of time there. Perhaps the best course is to use the Kennedy Avenue viaduct that crosses the IHB line from Ivanhoe. It provides a nice bird's eye view of the crossing and the trackage surrounding it.
Located about a half mile south of Gibson, Osborn is just west of Kennedy Avenue and just north of 169th Street. Norfolk Southern's ex-NKP main line crosses the Kankakee Line here. NS runs about 25 trains a day on the NKP, and a few use a connector in the northeast quadrant to access the Kankakee route. Traffic on the latter is much less, perhaps eight or ten trains. A few of these are BNSF trains which use the Kankakee as a Chicago bypass. UP coal trains occasionally use the line as well. There is a small yard along the NS main just west of the junction, and connector tracks in the northwest and southwest quadrants feed yard movements onto the Kankakee Line. Access is not good; railroad property surrounds the interlocking and the only legal way to explore here is walking along Osborn Avenue. In any case, most trains seen here on the NS main can also be seen at Hohman Avenue. And at Calumet Junction, traffic on the Kankakee Line is heavier .
Located on the far east side of Gary, the Miller area features an overhead crossing of CSX's ex-B&O double track main by the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend commuter line. Miller thus is a relatively busy place with traffic especially heavy during weekday rush hours. Of particular interest is a connection between the two roads in the northwest quadrant (visible at the far right in the photo). Some South Shore freights use this track to back down to CSX. While occasionally cars are left on the track for CSX to pick up, at least one train accesses the CSX main and uses trackage rights to reach a CSX facility in East Chicago. Otherwise, the South Shore is mostly passenger service and midday trains operate in roughly one and a half hour intervals in each direction (two hours on weekends). Traffic on CSX is the same as what would be seen at places like Pine, Willow Creek and Wellsboro--about 50 or so trains per day.
The northwest quadrant is a large open area and is readily accessible, but much of it is railroad property. So stand well back from the CSX tracks; you can still get a reasonably good view of the action. To get here, take U.S. Rte. 12 to South Lake Street (the South Shore's Miller station is at the intersection). Head north on Lake and turn right on the first street after the South Shore tracks (Sixth Place). The crossing is about three blocks. The surrounding neighborhood is reasonably safe, but a little caution is not a bad idea.
Although not a junction, this station is a fairly popular train watching site. Located just south of Lake Michigan on Norfolk Southern's busy ex-Conrail Chicago Line, many eastbound Amtrak trains stop here. Extensive freight action can be seen as well, although the action is a little heavier at Indiana Harbor and Porter. In back of the station are a CSX ex-B&OCT route that once carried B&O passenger trains into Chicago and the lakefront branch of Canadian National's ex-EJ&E. Traffic on both lines, however, is very light.
To get here from downtown Chicago, take the Dan Ryan Expressway, then the Chicago Skyway (both I-90) to the Indianapolis Boulevard exit. Head southeast on Indianapolis about a mile to Calumet Avenue. There's a stoplight at the intersection, and a large factory will be on your left. Turn left on Calumet, proceed a few blocks and cross the NS tracks. The station is just to your right.
From I-80/I-94, exit at Calumet Avenue and head north till the street ends at the NS tracks--about nine miles.
The NS tracks were once the Pennsylvania Railroad's Fort Wayne main line. New York Central's Water Level Route main paralleled the Pennsy just to the north but was taken up by Penn Central in the 1970s. The station and parking lot now occupy the NYC area. An old Central mile marker has been preserved and placed at the west end of the station. About a half mile east of the station, the NS tracks shift from the Pennsy to the NYC ROW.
Note: In March, 2009, Amtrak announced a policy prohibiting photography from their boarding platforms. While there are some exceptions, railfan photography is covered by the ban. It is not clear whether the Hammond-Whiting platform falls within Amtrak's jurisdiction, nor whether Amtrak is serious about enforcing it at small, outlying stations, but those who would rather not risk a run-in with Amtrak security are advised to stay on the south side of the tracks across from the station platform. You will find that photography is easier there in any case.
The Chicago, South Shore and South Bend's Ogden Dunes station is located along U.S. Rte. 12 about three miles east of Miller and roughly a mile and a half west of Burns Harbor. The station serves not only the upscale beachfront community of Ogden Dunes but the much larger town of Portage to the south. In 2004, the South Shore completed a replacement of the old catenary supports in this area, and the result is an impressive-looking piece of electric railroading. What makes this place worthwhile is the parallel Norfolk Southern ex-CR, ex-NYC Chicago Line, located less than 30 yards north of the South Shore boarding platform. With the 60 or more trains a day on NS and the South Shore's passenger and freight traffic, there's plenty of action here.
Do not park in the South Shore parking lot. South Shore security police patrol the area and will issue warning tickets to anyone they perceive to be there for any purpose other than boarding a train. However, just beyond the east end of the lot is a small parking area that offers good views of both railroads. To reach it, you must enter the parking lot from the west. Drive though it to the area just east of where the South Shore parking ends.
Listed below are some junctions of historical interest. Only the most
dedicated of junction junkies would find a visit worthwhile nowadays.
TOLLESTON. Here, the Pennsylvania Railroad's Fort Wayne main line crossed New York Central's ex-Michigan Central main line to Detroit. An Indiana Harbor Belt line parallels the MC here on an elevation and crosses over the Pennsy. A Wabash line that once ran to Montpelier, Ohio (and beyond to Detroit and Toledo) also parallels MC from the east and curves northwest at the junction to parallel the Pennsy. Once one of the busiest junctions around, it now sees very little traffic. In 1976, the PRR and MC lines became the property of Conrail, who promptly downgraded both. In fact, for much of the 1990's PRR was out of service. The MC line became CR's "Porter Branch" and handled about a dozen or so trains a day. Both lines are now secondary routes belonging to CSX. However, they rarely if ever see a CSX train. NS exercises trackage rights on both and BNSF trains use the Porter Branch as a Chicago bypass on their way to NS's Elkhart yard. The ex-Pennsy was leased by CSX to Rail America (now Genessee & Wyoming) and is used by their subsidiary, the Chicago, Ft.Wayne & Easter, although it is dispatched by NS. CF&E trains transfer at Tolleston to the Porter Branch and head west to IHB's Blue Island Yard.
West of Tolleston the ex-Pennsy has been out of service for years, but a short stretch of it has been restored and feeds into the ex-Wabash. Beyond there, the Pennsy ROW is gone as part of the Gary airport expansion project. The diamond has been reinstalled at the Porter Branch/CF&E crossing and a connection has been built in the northeast quadrant, so that NS trains on either route can reach the ex-Wabash as part of a new route that will enable them to more easily access CN's Kirk Yard on the Gary lakefront.
Tolleston is on Gary's west side at Grant Street and 10th Avenue. The surrounding neighborhood is not as dangerous as it once was, but caution is still the rule of the day.
CLARKE. Located four miles northwest of Tolleston and a mile west of Pine, the Pennsy's Fort Wayne main line crossed the B&OCT (now CSX) main line here. In addition, the Wabash's line to Montpeliar, Ohio that parallels the Pennsy from Tolleston feeds into the B&OCT; Wabash trains then used trackage rights west of here to State Line Crossing. Until 2013, the CN/EJE main crossed over both lines just east of here, but it has been moved west as part of the Gary airport expansion project, and as a result the B&OCT/CSX crossing with the ex-Pennsy has been obliterated and the former PRR ROW has also disappeared for a few miles to the east. All that remains of Clarke Jct is the ex-Wabash connection with CSX, used by an NS local to reach an industry on Gary's east side. So today, very little is left of what was once a busy junction that saw close to 100 trains a day.
CAVANAUGH. An all CN/EJE junction, Cavanaugh is about a mile and a half southwest of Pine and three miles north of Van Loon. A branch from East Chicago (the same one that passes through Grasselli) here feeds into the J's main line, which runs north-south at this point. Traffic is sparse on the branch, and like Clarke access is difficult. The best view of it can be obtained from an entrance ramp to the Indiana Toll Road. A proposed expansion of the Gary/Chicago airport would require moving both the main line and the junction nearly a half mile to the west.
IVANHOE. Located a mile south of Cavanaugh and two miles north of Van Loon, the CN/EJE double track main is here crossed by the former NYC/MC Detroit main line--now CSX's Porter Branch--and also by a little-used IHB branch (the same one that runs through Tolleston). Just west of here, the Porter Branch joins the IHB track and becomes the Harbor's main line to Dolton and Blue Island Yard. CN's operating plan for the J requires a connection to be built in the southeast quadrant. Access is difficult and the nearby neighborhood is dicey.
HAYS. Located in Highland, Indiana, just west of Kennedy Avenue, CN's ex-GTW main line is crossed by Norfolk Southern's Kankakee Line. This is still a relatively busy place with about 40 trains a day. But it is difficult to access and there are much better places to view both lines.
MAYNARD/AIR LINE. West of Highland is the twin suburb of Munster. Here, just west of Calumet Avenue is a triangle of junctions that must have been a fascinating place back in the old days. The north-south Monon Route crossed the Grand Trunk, and just to the north it crossed the Pennsylavania's Panhandle main line at "Airline Junction." A block or two east of these sites, the Panhandle then crossed GTW (the location was "Maynard" in the Pennsy timetable). Traffic through here was heavy, and close coordination among tower operators was needed.
Unfortunately, things are much different now. Conrail abandoned the Panhandle. The Monon track is out of service north of CN/GTW. Instead of heading north into Hammond, CSX Monon trains coming from the south now transfer to CN/GTW and use trackage rights to Thornton Junction, as do Amtrak's Cardinal/Hoosier State. Aside from its historical importance, there is no reason to visit here nowadays. It should be noted, though, that an effort is underway by local communities and the area transportaion agency to fund a revival of the Monon track to the north. The idea is for commuter trains coming south from Chicago to run to Dyer, Indiana on the ex-Monon.
HARTSDALE. Located south of Highland in the suburb of Schererville, Hartsdale is an unusual location that was once quite busy. The east-west CN/EJE main line is here paralleled by an ex-New York Central, ex-Michigan Central branch line that once ran to Joliet, Illinois. It is now abandoned to the east but still exists west of here to Chicago Heights. A few blocks west of Kennedy Avenue, both lines were crossed by the Pennsy's Panhandle main line, and all three of them were bridged by NYC's overhead Kankakee Line. The Panhandle is now gone except for a short stretch used by the J and Norfolk Southern (present owner of the Kankakee and MC tracks) to service local industries. The MC branch sees very little traffic, and CN/EJE and the Kankakee Line are better viewed elsewhere.
DYER. South of Munster is the suburb of Dyer, Indiana, where CSX's ex-Monon route crosses both the CN/EJE main line and the MC branch coming west from Hartsdale. Traffic has declined since the Monon's heyday; the line now sees perhaps eight to ten trains a day, including Amtrak's Cardinal/Hoosier State. The MC branch is now out of service, but the J has seen a substantial increase in traffic as CN reroutes trains from the ex-GTW onto it. The junction can be accessed by a road running along the south side of the EJ&E tracks, but stay well back from the diamonds.
ST. JOHN. Located south of Schererville in the far-south suburb of Saint John, the junction is on 93rd Street just east of US Rte. 41. Here, CSX's ex-Monon line from Lafayette, Indiana, crosses Norfolk Southern's Kankakee Line. Access is hampered by a chainlink fence and traffic is light--about 15-18 trains a day.
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