The IHB main line extends 39.4 miles from Ivanhoe on the west side of
Gary, Indiana, to Franklin Park, Illinois, near O'Hare Airport. It runs west
from Ivanhoe through Gibson (Hammond, Indiana) to Blue Island, Illinois. There,
it heads northwest and then north through Chicago's western suburbs. It is
mostly double track, and even the single track segment has one or more running
tracks alongside. From Blue Island to a point near McCook, Illinois, the track
and infrastructure are owned and maintained by CSX subsidiary, Baltimore &
Ohio Chicago Terminal. However, IHB dispatches the entire route. In addition,
the 7.1 miles of main line from Ivanhoe to Calumet Park, Illinois, is operated
on a long-term lease agreement. From Calumet Park to Blue Island, and from
McCook to Franklin Park, the track is owned outright by the Harbor.
IHB has another major route known as the Kankakee Line. It extends south from the lakefront at Indiana Harbor (East
Chicago, Indiana) to a point near the crossing of the now-abandoned Erie-Lackawanna railroad, a
distance of about seven miles. The main and Kankakee lines cross in Hammond, Indiana at Gibson
Junction, where the IHB shops are located. The IHB's headquarters building is
also at Gibson.
Blue Island Yard, located near Riverdale, Illinois, is the heart
and soul of the IHB. It is one of the largest and busiest yards in the Chicago
area with 44 classification tracks and a hump for eastbound traffic. It is a
major destination and origination point for most of the Class I railroads.
There are several other major yards as well. Gibson Yard in Hammond
handles auto rack cars exclusively. IHB's shops, headquarters and servicing
facilities are located at the east end of the yard. Michigan Avenue Yard in East Chicago
marshals traffic for the steel industries along Lake Michigan, as does Lakefront
Yard in the Indiana Harbor area. Lakefront also serves as an interchange point
with other area railroads. Argo Yard serves the huge
Corn Products plant near McCook, Illinois. Smaller yards like Burnham and
Norpaul serve local industries and build transfer movements.
of the Harbor's revenue is derived from transfer traffic between other railroads
together with switching and trackage
rights fees. The remaining 60% comes from online industries, and about half of
that is related to the steel industry. A large chunk of the rest is derived from
grain processing plants throughout the Chicago area.
This website was originally developed by our friend "Lightnin" and
many of his fine photographs have been retained. He was a great help in expanding
the Archive. Sadly, he passed away in March, 2016, and this
site is now dedicated to his memory. Thanks go also to Spence Ziegler, whose collaboration
in developing the website was essential. It is hoped that you will enjoy looking through these pages and encourage everyone who has
IHB-related photos and data to submit them for posting. More photos will be added in the future and other pages will be
updated frequently. Check back with us often.
NOTE: In February, 2017 IHB announced that their SW1500 and GP40-2 units will be converted to dual fuel operation
using compressed natural gas and diesel fuel. This is a major step forward since as of this date no other railroad has
committed to using CNG on such a large scale.
As of November, 2017 two former SW1500s (now designated RP15BDF) have arrived back at IHB outfitted for diesel/CNG operation.
As of this writing, they are undergoing tests. More SW1500s are slated for conversion and are being sent to the builder.
Temporary replacements include two leased GP38-2 units and five SW1500s from CIT. For more information and photos of dual fuel units,
go to the Photos page and click on Photos of Gensets and Dual Fuel Locomotives.
--Bill Gustason. Last updated November, 2017.
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