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 we have
retained many of his fine photographs. We're grateful for his help in expanding
the Archive. Sadly, he passed away in March, 2016, and this
site is now dedicated to his memory. We hope you enjoy looking through these pages and encourage everyone who has
IHB-related photos to submit them to us. We are adding more photos and updating
the other pages frequently. Check back with us often.
NOTE: IHB announced that their GP40-2 and SW1500 units will be converted to operation
using compressed natural gas. 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 January, 2017, several SW1500s have left the property for the CNG conversion process. In their place,
IHB has leased two GP38-2 units and five SW1500s from CIT. See the current roster page for more information.
--Bill Gustason, Spence Ziegler. Last updated January, 2017.