Friday, February 13, 2015

GTW: Grand Trunk Western Railroad

Daniel Ward has a system map on railfan. Note that it is the Southbend Subdivision that reaches Chicago from Battle Creek, MI. The Detroit Division has extensive routes in Michigan and Ohio. But I'm interested in just the west end of the Chicago Division.

Grand Trunk Western is the US portion of a route from the port of Portland, Maine to rail connections in Chicago through southern Ontario and Quebec that served Toronto and Montreal. In 1859, the Canadian portion, Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), was completed. Originally, GTR used the Michigan Central Railroad line from Detroit to Chicago to access the Chicago connections. But when W. H. Vanderbilt took over control of the MC in 1878, GTW put together its own route across Michigan and Indiana by using railroads it had been buying in the 1870s with an eye towards being cut off by Vanderbilt. In 1880, the Canadian interests consolidated four railroads as the Chicago & Lake Huron Railroad which ran between Port Huron and Valparasio, IN, where it connected to the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad to gain access to Chicago. To avoid dependency on  the PFW&C, it became one of the five owners of the C&WI to gain access to Dearborn Station and the Chicago & State Line completed 47 miles from Valparasio to Elsdon Chicago on February 8, 1880. [American-Rails]  The Chicago & State Line also built the Elsdon Yard.

To close the gap between Elsdon and the C&WI tracks that were about three miles east, on June 11, 1880, GTW formed the Grand Trunk Junction Railway and leased the route that GTJR opened August 29, 1881. [Wikipedia] The GTJR ran parallel to the Chicago and Indiana State Line Railway (C&ISL) that that was incorporated on July 13, 1880. So the two railroads probably shared the work of getting permits, buying land, and building an embankment. Each railroad probably built and maintained the 19 overpasses needed to cross the Back of the Yards residential neighborhood.

CN admitted it owned GTW and started repainting locomotives as CN. Since the original purpose of the GTJR was to gain access to the C&NW and Dearborn Station for passenger trains, it became obsolete in 1971 when Amtrak took over passenger service.The eastern half has been abandoned. The western half remains intact because the successors of C&ISL use it. Since Norfolk and Southern got the NYC properties in this area, it is now owned by NS. The C&ISL started sharing the GTW route and abandoned their route a while ago because all of the overpass bridges for the northern two tracks have been removed. CN sold the GTW route and yards to CSX from Eldson to GT Crossing where it connects with CSX's former Monon route to the south. CN no longer needed this route after it bought the EJ&E.

For now, I'm collecting some raw notes.

The CN line is the same one that passes through Wellsboro, Griffith and Blue Island. In 2013 CSX obtained operating control of this line between Elsdon, about three miles north of here, and Munster, Indiana by way of an easement negotiated with CN. Consequently, although CN trains on this segment have diminished, CSX trains have been added, giving about the same amount of traffic as before. However, it is nowhere near the number of trains seen on the Belt. Most of the CSX and CN trains from the south use a connection in the southwest quadrant to reach Clearing, and CSX intermodal trains also use it to access the Bedford Park intermodal terminal adjacent to Clearing.

The EJ&E connects with GTW at Griffith

Late 1960s photo posted by Joey Kelly and Drew Guild
Track Diagram

Griffith Historical Society

GTW in Danville?

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