Thursday, October 30, 2014

CREATE: P1 - Metra/Rock Island Flyover

Update: In 1965, Marty Bernard took several photos from the Englewood Union Station. The Rock Island had 3 tracks crossing 4 Pennsylvania tracks.

On page 6 of the main section of the  October 24, 2014, Chicago Tribune had an article by Richard Wronski announcing the completion of the CREATE project P1. So it is time to research that project.
Once again, the CREATE web site has not been updated to record the cost nor the completion date. So I'm really glad I tripped across the page 6 article. The cost was $142 million. This project is easy to understand -- the former Rock Island tracks (now Metra) are raised over the former Pennsylvania (now NS) tracks at what was the Englewood Junction. Amtrak also uses the NS tracks. Update: a video of the dedication ceremony has some interesting background activity.

Completed in late 2014, the Englewood Flyover replaced a heavily used Metra and Norfolk Southern Railway crossing at 63rd and State streets in Chicago. Now each day, nearly 80 Metra trains cross the bridge over tracks used by about 60 freight and Amtrak trains. [ProgressiveRailroading]
Photo – Norfolk Southern Railway

Kevin Piper posted
Robert Petit: I believe that this is a Mark Llanuza photo for Metra on the dedication of the flyover.
Marshall Beecher: I, too had the pleasure of being here to get these shots, but non disclosure agreements prevented any of mine from seeing the light of day back then. It was truly a rare thing with the Rock both above and below the NS Chicago line, at the time.
Sayre Kos: Marshall Beecher You may recall the Amtrak movement was a bonus: That was the annual AAPRCO special headed east.
Here’s one above and one below:

Chicago Tribune, Oct. 24, 2014
Satellite before construction
 Since the current satellite images are not new enough to show the construction, I save one of them as a before picture.

At first the cost surprised me because I remembered that the B2 project cost "just" $83 million. But then I identified some reasons why P1 would cost more:
  • The bridge+approaches can carry 3 tracks instead of one.
  • Since the project description indicates the scope of work extends to 69th Street, it appears the southern approach needed to go over I-90/94. This is a lot bigger span than the NS tracks.
  • The bridge is "double high" since it is going over tracks that are already elevated.
  • Since the new construction is west of the existing tracks, some urban property may have been purchased.
This project needed to be completed before other CREATE projects will move more commuter trains to the Metra route and more Amtrak trains to the NS route.

A construction video confuses me. Since the span behind the crane crosses the NS tracks, what is the purpose of the span for which it is lifting girders? That seems to be an rather expensive span over dirt. I need to give some more thought as to whether or not I'm going to go to that neighborhood to take my own pictures.

The Tribune article also explained the controversy concerning the usage of minority-owned contractors. I believe it is a fair summary that the Metra CEO, Alex Clifford, thought he was being asked by the Metra chairman, Larry Huggins, to bribe the over site hiring monitor -- the National Black Chamber of Commerce -- with $50,000. Also Clifford thought that a $200,000 no-bid contract that Huggins helped Target Group get did not fullfill the terms of the contract. These were some of the issues that caused Clifford to leave Metra in May 2013. If you Goggle "metra scandal" you are offered several to choose from. I saw that soon after Clifford left, 6 board members were gone. I was looking for a reminder of which disgraced Metra executive committed suicide by stepping in front of a Metra train, but I could not find that information.

Todd Hollritt posted
Update: Todd's comment:
Norfolk Southern 20K the 63rd Street – Chicago, IL to Croxton Yard – Jersey City, NJ intermodal freight arrives at the former Erie Lackawanna.
Calling it 63rd Street cost me some time. There is nothing at 63rd Street. Even after the planned extension, the yard goes to just 59th Street. I believe the train is going to the intermodal yard that combined the former Wabash and C&WI/Erie yards.The train is still several blocks away from the yard.

An aerial photo by the Tribune showing the flyover and a NS train crossing the expressway. Also some of an NS intermodal yard on the right side of the picture.

Train Watching: IHB+UP/CNW

I started taking a video of an northbound IHB train south of the UP/CNW crossing.

But the train was so slow that I switched to taking pictures of just the "fallen flag" vehicle cars and then the remaining cars since it ended up being a mixed freight. (I computed that the train was going 6 mph.)
The Diesel Shop has a link to an IHB locomotive roster. That page indicates locomotives 2163 and 2161 are NRE 3GS21B gensets built in 2012 in Mt. Vernon, IL. The gensets use three 700 hp Cummins engines. 2161 was built on a SP SD45T-2 frame whereas 2163 reused a SP SD40T-2 frame. In the following screen shots, we can see that in each locomotive the 2 gensets nearest the cab are active.

In terms of the fallen flags,
20141025 0063
there was a Chicago & North Western car...

 ...two Grand Trunk cars...
 ...three Conrail cars...
...and a Southern Pacific car.

The UP locomotives are model C41-8W 9451 and 9453 and model C44-9W 9721. In addition to the transfer train climbing the new connection to the IHB, around timestamp 2:50 is a train backing into Proviso Yard on the ground level.

I believe the bulk-head flat car was carrying steel I-beams.

There was only two gondola cars with a visible load -- coils of wire.

All four flat cars were carrying steel plates. I include a picture to record how low the steel is stacked. A reminder of how heavy steel can be.

And I looked closely for a red light on the End-of-Train device and did not notice any, blinking or otherwise.

The number of vehicle cars in the IHB train was computed from the timestamps on the video and photos and an estimate that it took 10 seconds for each 88-foot car to pass. The speed computes as 6 mph. Even I can jog that fast, for a little bit.

An analysis of the car types in the three trains. Note that I could not analyze all of the cars in the UP trains because I ran out of battery while taking the video.

tank 13

3-bay covered 4 44 18
2-bay covered
gondola 9

coil 7

vehicle 40

flat 4

bulk-head flat 1

box 3 17
refer 4

82 82 30

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

CREATE: GS6 - 25th Avenue

GS6 is a grade separation between 25th Avenue and CNW/UP tracks in Bellwood, IL. On the CREATE status map it is supposed to be in the construction phase. But the only activity I could see is that they have erected a sign.

20141025 0058
I was not aware of this CREATE project when I did my field trip. The reason I was in this neighborhood was to check out projects B2&B3.

I was going North on US-12 to check out the pedestrian walks on the bridge over Proviso Yard. The good news is that it had walks on both sides of the bridge. The bad news is that those high fences that curve inwards is an indication that I'm in a "questionable" neighborhood. So I kept on driving until I got across the bridge and could turn right. And then I drove east until I could turn right again, which was on 25th Avenue. I had noticed that many of the parking lots were surrounded by fences with barbed wire on top. Another indication that the neighborhood has had issues. But when I saw the sign, I pulled into a driveway to take a picture. When I was done, I noticed that a security guard was walking towards me. I explained that I was just taking a picture of the sign, and I left.

Since there was no traffic behind me, I stopped on the C&NW/UP crossing to take pictures looking West and then East. But you can tell by the crooked picture I was nervous about setting on the crossing too long. The rail overpass in the west-looking view is the IHB.

20141025 0055c

I was surprised that they plan to do an overpass instead of an underpass because the tracks are a few feet higher than the road here and we have seen that the project managers seem to prefer underpasses.

I have a friend that used this street in his commute. He reported a couple of years ago that they shut it down completely for the work. There are not a lot of crossings so any detour he tries is bad.

Bill Molony shared and IDOT posting of an IDOT Instagram, Sep. 16, 2016
Here's a look at the CREATE GS6 project at 25th Ave. between Lake Street and St. Charles Road in Bellwood.
The improvements eliminate grade crossing, reduce congestion and improve safety for 21,000 vehicles and 38 Pace buses per day.
The new overpass opened Dec. 22, 2016. "The railroad overpass project was made possible by a $22.2 million contribution from Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), $2.4 million from the villages of Bellwood and Melrose Park and $16.4 million from federal, railroad and other state sources." I noticed they dodged the question of how much Union Pacific and the Feds contributed to the $41 million project.

A satellite image downloaded in Nov 2017 shows that they had done some of the pier work for the overpass.

An Arturo Gross Flickr 1994 photo of a westbound intermodal at 25th Avenue provides another "before" photo. (source)

Jerry Jackson commented on Arturo's posting
This was right off the northeast corner of the 25th ave crossing.
Probably mid-80's.
Update: I did a satellite image check on 10/30/2018 and it has not changed.

CREATE: B2, B3, B4 and B5

CREATE projects B2 and B3 improve the connection between the IHB and UP/C&NW/Galena&Chicago. To better understand what the projects did, I verified that the images are old enough to provide a "before" picture.

That means that they are older than September, 2009, because that is when the B3 project was completed.This project double tracked the connection between the CNW Proviso Yard and the IHB to feed a new fourth track on the IHB.
I can't figure out how to remove the labels when I zoom in on the bird's-eye view, so the image to the right is the highest resolution I can get without labels.

I compared Bing's roadmap with Google's roadmap to confirm Google is accurate at high resolutions concerning track layout, but Bing is not. Note that Bing missed the old connection between CNW and IHB (the curved track in the closeup on the right). Even with the label lines in the way, you can see that the IHB has only three tracks crossing the CNW. In fact, you can see the expanded bridge abutments for the fourth track and one of the spans for the new bridge.

I discovered that the Bing maps in FlashEarth do allow you to display the maps without labels, but this version is the same up-to-date images that the other satellite sites use. But the labeled version still has errors because it is now missing both the old and the new connections. (Google's road map shows both connections.)

I don't understand this project. The writeup said the old connection blocks the IHB mainline. But the mainline has 3 tracks. There don't seem to be many yards north of this connection. Is there really more traffic than 2 tracks could handle? And why does the IHB have to run its trains so slowly? A northbound IHB train was going so slow that I quit taking a video of it and switched to taking pictures. Increasing the speed would not only reduce the time a freight car spends in Chicago, it would increase the capacity of the IHB tracks. Surely the slow speed is not because the IHB skimps on track maintenance. Proper track maintenance has got to be cheaper than building another bridge. Furthermore, the mainline is down to just 3 tracks anyhow soon after the new track is across the bridge. So does a few hundred feet of length really help that much? I noticed that the this project description page does not include the cost of the project.

Below is the bridge that was built by the B2 project. According to an ASCE article, the project was completed in September, 2013.

20141025 0102c
Below is a newer version of the first map above to illustrate the B2 project.

I marked up the above image with a red line to highlight the new connection.

This $83 milllion project does make sense. If you look at the first satellite image at the top of this page, you will see that freight trains leaving the IHB using the old connection had to travel on the bottom track for a few blocks before it took the S-curve connection up to the freight yards. And the new track reduces the incline of the connector because the rise is now spread across the relatively long east-west section.

That bottom track is the track used by the commuter trains. I caught a freight train on the connector while I was there, and I learned that the UP also runs it trains slowly. (Around 2:50 in the video another freight appears on the lower yard lead.)
Since this track is just a year old, it should not be running slow because of bad tracks. Is it because of the sharp curves? Because the freight trains are so slow? If a commuter train is blocked by a slow freight movement, it could incur a significant delay. This freight flyover removes a commuter train being blocked by a freight train.

Flickr from John W. Barriger III IHB Album
Bob Lalich 5y 
Overpass of CNW mains and connection to Proviso.

Carlos Ferran posted four photos with the comment: "Yesterday was a good day if you were on the Harbor/Proviso. A UP manifest had quite the lashup that afternoon, consisting of a UP SD70M, CSX C40-8W, and two former BHP Billiton SD70ACe's. They departed Proviso last night on the M-ELNP-21. Word is these former Aussie ACes are bound for Progress Rail in Marshalltown, IA." (Used with permisson.)




Projects B4/B5 were signalling and track work for a 7-mile stretch of the IHB. It demonstrates that Chicago still has 19-th century rail technology in the 21-st century because it upgraded over a dozen hand-thrown switches to power switches. It also added and improved crossovers. Instead of taking 2 hours to cover the 7 miles (3.5 mph, walking speed), it takes "just" 20 minutes. That is still just 21 mph. The report is excited that the track speed is now all the way up to 30 mph. This makes me appreciate how fast freight trains run on the BNSF/CB&Q racetrack near my house. What struck me was the cost -- $38 million for "just" track and signalling work. Track and signalling work is more complicated than I would have guessed.

(For my reference: if I can force myself to describe how B4/B5 wasted a lot of our federal tax money, I'll need this posting that confirms the connection on the north side is seldom used.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chicago Passenger Stations

WanderWisdom provides an overview of the stations.

Information on the passenger coach yards

Bill Molony posted
Chicago station lead tracks, taken from the Board of Trade building:
Far left - Dearborn Station
Center - La Salle Street Station, with a New York Central train leaving
Right Center - Grand Central Station and lead tracks
Far Right - Coach yards and lead tracks from Chicago Union Station
[The IC Central Station is out-of-frame to the left and the C&NW Station is way behind the photographer's back.]
Jim Vecchitto what a great picture.. Pre Congress x-way which opened in 53.. Any idea actual date of photo..

Bill Molony posted again
Chicago's downtown stations, photographed from the Board of Trade building.
On the far left is Dearborn Station, served by the AT&SF, the C&O, the GTW, the Erie, the C&EI, the Wabash, the CI&L and the C&WI.
In the center is La Salle Street Station, served by the NYC, the NKP and the CRI&P. An NYC express train can be seen leaving.
To the right of center is Grand Central Station, served by the B&O, the Pere Marquette, the Soo Line and the CGW.
On the far right is the coach yards and leads from the south side of Chicago Union Station, served by the PRR, the CB&Q and the GM&O.

David Daruszka commented on another Bill Molony post
Exposure adjusted.
John Ullrich You can still see the air. Somethings have really changed for the better.
David Church The coal burning years in the city were truly dreadful. Soot on window sills everyday. Air foul much of the time. Folks today have no idea how far we’ve come with clean air and water.
David Daruszka Dearborn survived as an office building. LaSalle Street was sold by the people handling the bankruptcy of the Rock to satisfy creditors. Grand Central was demolished by the CSX because they no longer wanted to pay the property taxes on improved land. The City of Chicago and various planning agencies put forth numerous schemes to consolidate the passenger terminals that never came to fruition. If you are interested in the politics of the downtown railroad terminals I refer you to Fred Ash's excellent book "Chicago Union Station".
Proposed stations to consolidate the railroads on the south side

Lance Erickson posted
From a Pennsylvania RR time table of the 1960's
Bill Molony posted an April 30, 1967 date for this map. The comments include a higher resolution excerpt and a 1957 map.
Bill Edrington Note that the "Michigan Central" used La Salle Street by that time but the "Big Four Route" was still using Central. I wonder how many travelers in 1967 even knew what those railroads were. But then the PRR wasn't going to make it easy for NYC passengers, I guess.

Gaza Duna posted

Chapter 5 of Rail City Chicago USA and Chicago Stations & Trains Photo Archive describe the 6 long-distance passenger stations that used to exist to the west and south of downtown Chicago. For reference, I marked up a satellite image and a 1938 aerial photo according to the convention:
  • Left red rectangle: Chicago & North Western
  • Left yellow rectangle: Union Station
  • Middle yellow rectangle: Grand Central Station
  • Middle red rectangle: La Salle Street Station
  • Right yellow rectangle: Dearborn Station
  • Right red rectangle: Central Station 
MapQuest plus Paint
For the 1938 image, I include just the 4 southern stations so that I can include the service and approach tracks in the image because these yards are long since gone.

IHAP plus Paint
In the following table, the row that spans 3 columns lists the railroads that used the station.

Dearborn Street1885Closed 1971, Re-purposed in the 1980sChicago & Western Indiana
Santa Fe, Chicago & Eastern Illinois, Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville (Monon), Erie, Grand Trunk Western, Wabash, Chesapeake & Ohio (initially, moved to Grand Central)
Grand Central1890Demolished 1971, still (2015) a vacant lotBaltimore & Ohio
Chicago Great Western, B&O, Pere Marquette, Wisconsin Central (Soo), C&O (later)
Central1893Demolished 1974Illinois Central
IC; Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (Big Four); Michigan Central (MC and Big Four used this station initially. They changed to La Salle when they became part of the NYC System)
La Salle Street1903just commutersRock Island and New York Central
RI; NYC; New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate Road); Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad (joining RI tracks in the Ashburn neighborhood)
Chicago & North Western1911just commutersC&NW
Union Station1925commuters and AmtrakCB&Q, Penn, Milwaukee
Chicago and Alton(GM&O), CB&Q, Milwaukee Road, Pennsylvania. After Amtrak was formed in 1971, all long distance passenger trains were moved to this station.

Bob Lalich commented on a posting:
NYC did not abandon the original MC line between the state line and Kensington after gaining control of the LS&MS and MC. The MC line hosted Detroit passenger trains which terminated at Central Station well into the 1950s. In 1957, Detroit passenger trains were rerouted to the LS&MS line at Porter and used LaSalle St.
Comments on a posting:
Bob Lalich After constructing the SC&S in the late 1880s, most of the Panhandle passenger trains used the SC&S between Bernice Jct and Colehour Jct, then the Ft Wayne line to reach the south end of Union Station. I believe any remaining secondary passenger trains using the original Panhandle line into the north end of Union Station were gone by the 1920s.
David Schnell Bob Lalich Yes. The last Panhandle Route passenger train to use the North Concourse was 1927.

Dearborn Street

Contents moved to Dearborn Station.

Grand Central Station

Contents moved to Grand Central Station.

Central Station

Contents moved to Central Station.

La Salle Street Station

Contents moved to La Salle Street.

Chicago & North Western

Contents moved to Chicago & North Western.

Union Station

Contents moved to Union Station.

Bill Molony posted
Bill's comment:
The seven central Chicago passenger depots - 1892.Baltimore & Ohio - depot #5Chicago & Alton - depot #3Chicago & Atlantic - depot #6Chicago, Burlington & Quincy - depot #3Chicago & Eastern Illinois - depot #6Chicago & Grand Trunk - depot #6Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul - depot #3Chicago & North Western - depot #2Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific - depot #4Chicago, Santa Fe & California - depot #6Chicago, St. Louis & Pittsburgh - depot #3Chicago, St. Paul & Kansas City - depot #7Chicago & Western Indiana - depot #6Illinois Central - depot #1Cleveland,Cincinnati, Chicago & St Louis - depot #1Lake Shore & Michigan Southern - depot #4Louisville, New Albany & Chicago - depot #6Michigan Central - depot #1New York Chicago & St Louis - depot #4Pittsburgh Ft. Wayne & Chicago - depot #3Wabash - depot #6Wisconsin Central - depot #7
In a later posting of the above  map, David Daruszka added the comment:
The map also predates the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Central Station does not appear on the map (built to coincide with the Fair) #1 on the map was the original IC station (also known as Central Station). #5 is the B&O depot that was in the Exposition Hall located on the site of today's Art Institute, also built for the Fair.

Bill Molony posted
Ken Molinelli shared Jeff Curran's post.
Chicago Stations 1930. Northwestern and Union Station in the upper left corner, LaSalle at the center, Grand Central to the left of LaSalle and Dearborn to the right of LaSalle. The IC station is out of the picture to the right.
Bill Molony posted
This 1893 Rand, McNally & Company railroad map of Chicago shows seven different downtown passenger stations being served by a total of 22 different railroad companies.
Numerous additional passenger stations were located at various locations in the outlying areas of the city. 
Then, as now, Chicago was the railroad capital of the United States.
Bill Molony posted a light version

Seventh photo posted
Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Depot-demolished 1902
Chad Brown posted a description and photos of several of the depots. Of special interest is this LS&MS Depot because I don't remember hearing about it, let alone seeing a photo of it. Was it a precursor to the La Salle Street Station? LS&MS was absorbed by the NYC and was its main route between Chicago and New York.
Nickel Plate had their own depot until they moved to La Salle on the orthwest corner of Roosevelt Road and Clark Street that is now occupied by a Target Store. [Facebook, Wikipedia] Location "9" on this 1897 Chicago Railroad Map.
1897 Chicago Railroad Map
Marty Gatton shared
1958 Photograph by J. Sherwin Murphy, ICHi-020187
[The station specific notes indexed above have many photos like this of trains at a station. I include this one here because you can see where all three south loop stations were with respect to each other. The "barn" in front of the Lee advertisement is the trainshed of the Dearborn Station. The tallest building would be the Chicago Board of Trade, and that is where the La Salle Station was. The clock tower on the left side was at the northeast corner of the Grand Central Station.]

I found information on the railroad's passenger coach yards.

1910 LaSalle Station approach tracks including freight houses and RI grain elevators

1941 tracks and buildings around LaSalle

A video of WTTW's Geoffrey describing the passenger stations

IH: IN: Illinois Northern Railroad Overview

(Update: I discovered that David Daruszka also has a posting on this railroad. Brian Morgan posted a history.)

This railroad was owned by International Harvester and served its big plant north of the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal.

Marty Bernard posted
6. Illinois Northern caboose 101 in Chicago, IL on May 13, 1964.
Marty Bernard shared

INR was a switching railroad that goes north of Corwith Yard across the Sanitary and Ship Canal with a swing bridge. They had 6 Alco S4 switchers.

ForgottenChicagoSwing Bridge

According to a Surface Transportation Board decision:
The 2.38 miles of Chicago area trackage was formerly trackage of the Illinois Northern Railway (INR), a switching carrier owned by International Harvester (IH). IH sold its capital stock in the INR to a group of railroads, one of which was The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company (ATSF). Later, ATSF (now BNSF) acquired all of the former INR interests in the Chicago area.
A detailed 1930 map in the Shortlines Club page indicates that the International Harvester plants (30, 33, and 38) were around the intersection of 26th/Blue Island and S Western Ave.

And from a comment on the TrainBoard, we learn:
Joe I do know that the INX would switch a cut of cars to the Elsdon Yard via the Corwith Hump on tuesdays and fridays and during the remainder of the week perform switching tasks from Corwith into the western part of the Central Industrial District East of Kedzie Ave and west of Elsdon Junction and North of the IHB/Belt Rwy/GTW tracks. I know for certain the INX use to switch the old Peter Pan Peanut Butter plant at 48th Street between Saint Louis and Drake.
In the above referenced 1999 Surface Transportation Board petition to abandon, two industries actively used the railroad and two wanted to preserve the option of using it. BNSF claims the 16 crossings need to be upgraded as well as the track. But they did not note any maintenance costs of the swing bridge as an issue. I need to find the Western Ave. team tracks that BNSF references. They are the only existing team tracks I know of.

On April 23, 2001, Central Illinois Railroad assumed operations of the IN trackage. But its owner went out of business and operations ended August 9, 2010. The BNSF is once again abandoning the line and plans to remove the bridge.

Update: I have read that the route has been abandoned and the track and crossing gates have been removed.

Edward Kwiatkowski posted
The Atchison, Topeka & santa Fe railroad's "I.N" ex
Illinois Northern Railroad industrial branchline local
at work. Photographd near West 28th Street east of
South Kedzie Avenue, in Chicago's Little Village
neighborhood. Chicago Illinois. June 1984.
This portion of the I.N branch north of Corwith Yard,
has since been abandoned and the tracks removed.

Brian Morgan comment in Ed's posting
Brian Morgan If you can find a map of the Illinois Northern you will notice that that line was Santa Fe's Original Routing to Dearborn before they built thier present route alongside the North Bank of the old I&M Canal present day I-55.
Mark Leininger I remember the IN tower off Western Ave. Used to visit the tower operator when working midnight....

Ed has a Flickr photo of a Santa Fe engine working the IN route.

Edward Kwiatowski posted two photos with the comment:
Heres 2 photographs from the defunct Illinois Northern Railroad.
This little railroad, switched the once numerous industrial
railroad spur sidings, in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.
The Illinois Northern Railroad, was a shortline subsidiary railroad of the former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and also the International Harvester Corp. This railroad interchanged with the Baltimore & Ohio, the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad at their east end terminal at South Western and Blue Island Avenues. The line proceeded west crossing South
California Avenue, and passed a run around track along the north
side of Chicago's infamous Cook County Jail on West 26th Street, between South California and Sacramento Avenues. Curving southwest, this railroad line crossed the former Illinois Central Railroad's Iowa Division Mainline at West 33rd Street, proceeded south across the Chicago Sanitary And Ship Canal, The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad's mainline, the I 55 Stevenson Expressway, the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad mainline, and finally entering the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad's Corwith Yard facility in Chicago's Brighton Park neighborhood, where it interchanged freight cars with the ATSF.
During 1972 after the International Harvester Corp had left the city of Chicago Illinois, the ATSF purchased the former Illinois Northern Railroad outright, and operated it as their "I.N" industriial branchline.
The Santa Fe served this line Monday through Friday, with a switching local originating from their Corwith Yard facility south
of the I 55 Stevenson Expressway.
In 1995, the ATSF and the Burlington Northern Railroad merged,
and became todays BNSF Railway. The old I.N branch had fallen
on hard economic times, as many industries had closed or left Chicago. The BNSF Railway operated this line until 2001, when
it leased the line to shortline operator "Central Illinois Railroad."
with very little business left on the old I.N branch and much defered
maintenance, the Central Illinois Railroad switched whatever on line business was left strictly as needed, finally going defunct in 2010.
The BNSF Railway abandoned the old I.N branch, and eventually
removed the remaining tracks and railroad crossing signals.
The former Illinois Northern, was my old neighborhood railroad,
that I had grown up with in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood
back in the day.
Doug Kaniuk info: (was
Joseph Tuch Santucci Never knew a great deal of the history if the line other than it was part of the Santa Fe and where it operated. On occasion we'd see their job cross us (IC) at the automatic interlocking known on the IC as the IN. A few times I saw the train in a Little Village. Nice bit of information.
Bob Lalich A good portion of the IN "mainline" was the original Grand Trunk route into Chicago.
Joseph Tuch Santucci When and why did that change?
Bob Lalich The arrangement did not last very long and changed due to the Grand Trunk buying in on the C&WI. The first GT terminal was somewhere along Blue Island Ave well outside downtown. The latecomer railroads were having difficulty gaining suitable terminals from the city. Another part of this story is that at least part of the GT west of Thornton was originally built by C&EI prior to C&WI as their route into Chicago. The history is very convoluted - several paper railroads chartered for construction, etc.


Edward Kwiatkowski posted
The Illinois Northern Railroad.
Partly owned by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. This industrial shortline railroad, switched the once numerous industries in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood prior to 1971. During 1971...the ATSF purchased the I.N outright, and operated this line as their own.
After the 1995 ATSF / BN merger that created the BNSF Railway...service was greatly cut back. The line was eventually leased to the shortline railroad " Central Illinois Railroad. " with only one rail served industry left and just switched when needed...owner NSF Railway abandoned this line, and removed the trackage.
Paul Schlichting IN had a tower and a small round house at 26th east of California were it crossed the CJ, BOCT and the Panhandle line.. Not saying the area was rough but there was a rifle hanging on the wall.
Andre Kristopans Back in the late 1800s this was the Grand Trunk Western's north end to their Chicago terminal near 26th and Western. When GTW got access to Dearborn Station and built the line along 49th to the Western Indiana, they sold this portion the IN, which was joint Santa Fe and International Harvester. After IH closed Deering Works at 26/Western ended up Santa Fe only. In last years worked by a job out of Corwith until CIRR took over. They ran from a "pen" at 31st and Homan, servicing a fuel dealer near there until the fuel dealer closed. The the track east of Western was connected to CIRR's ex Burlington Lumber District Line to keep serving the sugar place at 31st and Western and the wine distributor at 27th and Western. Eventually CIRR gave up and BNSF took back the Lumber District, which now has a couple of scrap yards at Wolcott and the Sugar Refiner as last customers as far a I know.
Thomas Mackowiak My father, Julius Mackowiak worked for the Illinois Northern Railway for 40÷ years until his retirement in 1972. He was an office clerk for most of the time but also worked an occasional weekend as a switchman when a regular switchman called off. I worked as a summer yard yard clerk in the summer of 1967. In 1967, the IN had a two track engine house at 26th & Western in the southwest quadrant of that intersection. At that point the tracks of the IN were elevatef in order to cross the Pennsylvania and B&OCT tracks that ran north/south through 26th Street crossing. The IN had a yard at ground level on the west side of the north/south tracks. In 1967 the IN served a number of industries east and west of Western Avenue including a still opened International Harvester plant southwest of the PRR/B&OCT tracks. Each day that I worked I had to check and record the reporting marks of the cars in the yard, plus cars at the IH plant. If there were cars parked on the tracks west of California Avenue. I had to walk down by Cook County Jail znd and tecord the car reporting marks and numbers. That was always an enjoyablr walk down to County Jail under the satchful eyes of the guards.
Tom Skowronski Illinois Northern was exclusively west of the B&O C T at 26th St. It ran along 26th after coming down from the crossing. It primarily served International Harvester and the other misc. industries south of 26th back when we had industrial jobs in the City. It connected directly to the Q's Lumber District, which then ran northeast along (close to) Blue Island, turning east at Ashland, then running along Cermak east to Lumber. THEN it went northeast along Lumber. At one time it actually connected to the CUS tracks at Lumber St. The main connector to the Q main was north from Cermak along Peoria. Now but a memory.

Ramon Rhodes posted 11 photos with the comment:
The Illinois Northern
A Smurf unit with a switch job slowly creeps along on Illinois Northern trackage in Chicago. When I first saw this track, I thought it was abandoned, but boy was I wrong! I have now seen two trains on it. The Smurf was in 2010, the Heritage unit was in 2013.
This industrial branch was once accessed by a bridge over the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal from Corwith Yard. That trackage was torn up several years ago and now the branch is accessed only from the former BN triple-track to the north.




4 (John George copied to Facebooked)








Kwiatkowski posted a link to a Flickr photo of a Santa Fe locomotive with the comment:
The Monday thru Friday Atchison, Topeka & santa Fe
Railroad's "I.N / former Illinois Northern Railroad" industrial
branchline switching local at work. Chicago Illinois
circa 1984. ( Gone. - Abandoned. Tracks removed.) 
The ATSF served this line 5 days a week, switching
the once numerous industries, in Chicago's
Little Village neighborhood, with a switching local
freight train operating out of Corwith Yard.

Marty Bernard posted five photos with the comment:
The Illinois Northern, Part 1
Since I'm posting my and still some of Roger Puta's Santa Fe slides let me post the little known subsidiary of the Santa Fe, the Illinois Northern, a long gone short line railroad in Chicago.
Here is a short history:
Incorporated 3/15/1901, road completed in 1902. Leases property from International Harvester and 0.79 miles of track from AT&SF. On 2/7/1950, leased additional 5.22 miles of track from AT&SF. On 1/4/1950, the AT&SF purchased controlling interest from International Harvester. Ownership: 51% AT&SF, 25% CB&Q, 12% PRR, and 12% NYC. Ownership changed to 51% AT&SF, 25% BN and 24% PC. Ownership changed in Aug 1971, to 68.4% AT&SF, 31.6% BN. AT&SF acquired full ownership on 11/23/1971. AT&SF fully absorbed the Illinois Northern on 2/16/1975.

IN 30, an Alco S4, in Chicago, IL on May 13, 1964.
Alfred Lynch: 55 Super or Roadmaster. that B pillar on the Riviera hardtop is different on the Century and Special. My Dad had a 54 Century Riviera.
Mike Croy: Looks like it’s going past the Cook County Jail.

IN 30, an Alco S4, in Chicago, IL
Bob Lalich: 26th St Tower is seen on the right edge of the photo. The crossing was a bit odd in that the IN crossed the CJ, B&OCT and PRR, but only the IN-B&OCT crossing was interlocked.
Tom Skowronski: I remember reading somewhere that only the B&O was signaled because of the passenger traffic, so the interlocking situation here would make sense.

IN S4s 31 and 32 in Chicago, IL on March 31, 1964

IN S4 31 in Chicago, IL at 26th and Western, on May 13, 1964.


David Daruszka commented on Marty's posting
Marty Bernard: Right, the freight station to the left was called McCormick Station. We are at 26th Street looking east on 26th Street..

Dennis DeBruler commented on Marty's comment on David's comment
I agree with a comment on my blog that we are on Western Avenue close to 27th Street and looking North. The concrete Illinois Northern bridge was evidently replaced with a steel-girder bridge when Western Avenue was widened.

Nature has reclaimed the IN right-of-way. This is in the northeast corner of the YMCA property looking along the IN bridge.
20180812 3482

Joe Usselman posted
Old Santa Fe bridge north of Corwith in 2018. It was abandoned about ten years ago or so.
[Additional comments are in IN Bridge.]
Ramon Rhodes Marty Valaitis Santa Fe's original main line into Chicago to Corwith Yard crossed that bridge before the line along the Sanitary Canal was cobbled together by buying up several smaller railroads. That's why the bridge exists and is double-tracked.

e that Corwith Yard is perpendicular to the current BNSF (and former Santa Fe) main line.

Illinois Northern also once had a small interchange yard on the west side of the bridge that was used to set out and pick up cars destined for the Santa Fe.

Marty Valaitis Thank you Ramon I did not know the early history and I worked on the Santa Fe in the 70s and 80s. I will add to some of the comments that my father spoke many times about ship and submarine traffic coming down the river during the war. He had a buddy that lived on the side of the river. They knew when a sub was coming thru as MPs would show up on Harlem Ave bridge. No cameras allowed. My favorite of his stories was that of a large ship he thought was some type of troop ship that was a little too big for the swing span bridge that carried old Route 66 across Lawndale Ave in Summit. As it squeezed through it tilted the bridge a few degrees off center and they could not close it. Took the engineers a while to get that straightened out. I remember that bridge well and played under Harlem Ave bridge many times. I know Harlem still had its lift controls back then.
Mark Bilecki Sr. Actually that bridge is part of the Chicago Danville and Vincennes which followed South thru Corwith and Elsdon down thru Thorton jct to Danville and Vincennes Ind.
Ramon Rhodes Mark Bilecki Sr. Before Santa Fe was able to cobble together a new mainline into the city along the Sanitary Canal, the mainline came in through the bottom end of Corwith Yard and cross that bridge.

This is why Corwith Yard is perpendicular to the current mainline.

David HersrudDavid and 41 others joined Chicagoland Railfan within the last two weeks. Give them a warm welcome into your community! the southern end of CORWITH was actually owned by the CR&I and the santa fe leased it for 100 yrs...
Mark Simmons The Illinois Northern. When I was a kid it was a treat to see the Santa Fe on that line. It was cool. All trains ran at night. Im talking 1970s into early 80s
David HersrudDavid and 41 others joined Chicagoland Railfan within the last two weeks. Give them a warm welcome into your community! Ya I remember when they replaced the power to santa fe FM switchers if I recall?

John George appears to have posted my map as a comment
Tom Skowronski And then at the upper right, at Blue Island and Western Aves. it crossed the "Western Ave. corridor," where the I N. engine house was located, and connected to the west end of the Q's Lumber District. Always thought that would make for a heck of a model railroad.
Ramon Rhodes commented on Joe's posting
Fred Van Dorpe what is "Big 4" and how the crap did all those railroads listed under 1 connect with the Illinois Northern?
DeBruler Fred Van Dorpe Big Four had a route that went from Indianapolis through Lafayette to Kankakee where it joined the IC to gain access to the Chicago market. That is why it connected at 3 because it would use IC's branch to Freeport. Note in John George's map that the South Branch used to extend west of the turning basin. That was filled in quite a while ago which is why these older maps are not consisten with current maps.
Dennis DeBruler As far as Chicagoland is concerned, Big Four also had a route that went from Cairo through Danville and on up to Northwestern Indiana. It was called the Egyptian Line.
Dennis DeBruler I just checked a 1938 aerial photo, there is/was no connection in the northwest quadrant at 2. So I don't think the IN could connect with what is listed at 2.
Dennis DeBruler  commented on Joe's posting
For 1, my current theory is that they would continue east on the CB&Q industrial park track along Cermak until they got to the wye that connected to a track going north that then connected westbound on CB&Q's mainline. Note on the satellite image that we can still see the landscars of this north/south track.

Going west, they could either go up to C&NW tracks or down to Chicago Junction and B&OCT (B&O) tracks. They could then take the Chicago Junction through Ashland Yard to either the C&WI (Eric, Wabash, C&EI) or a little further to Rock Island (and NYC). The Chicago Junction was originally the terminal railroad for the Union Stock Yards and it ran further east for a connection with the IC mainline around what is now William-Davis Park. From the CB&W's mainline, they could also go north onto the Pennsy Panhandle and make the connections listed under 2 using the through tracks on the east side of Union Station to get to P.FT.W.&C.RY (the main Pennsy, as opposed to the Panhandle).

The track along Cermak was removed just this year.
David Hersrud commented on Joe's posting
Edward Kwiatkowski posted
How many people, remember the former Illinois Northern Railroad?
This little shortline Railroad, switched the once numerous industries, in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.
Dennis DeBruler I never had a chance to see it.
Doug Kaniuk info:

Gary Sturm posted
Illinois Northern #32 at the Santa Fe Corwith Yard in Chicago in 1972.
[Some comments describe the activity of trains on the IN line back in the 1960s-80s.]

Fortunately, this posting is in a public group, because it has too much info and photos for me to take the time to copy them here. (Update: that group went private so I copied the post below.)
Edward Kwiatkowski posted
Although this photo was actually taken in the State of Texas...the former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad,  switched their former Illinois Northern Railroad industrial branch line in Chicago Illinois, with rebuilt EMD  SW 1200 switchers like this prior to 1983.
The Illinois Northern - "I.N Branch", was operated Monday through Friday, with a switching local that departed from the north end of the ATSF Corwith Yard. The local would switch the once numerous industrial spur sidings, in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. There was a run a round track along the front of the Cook County Jail on West 26th Street, and an interchange with the Burlington Northern Railroad at South Western Avenue.
During the spring of 1983, the ATSF retired their remaining EMD end cab switchers, and replaced them with rebuilt EMD GP 7's and an occasional CF 7 on the I.N Branchline local.
The I.N branch has since been abandoned in Chicago, and the rails have been removed.
Edward Kwiatkowski: My family and I, left the Little Village neighborhood in 1990, and moved to southwest suburban Oak Lawn Illinois. After the merger the BNSF operated the branch for a few years, but eventually leased the line to another short line railroad around 2001. It eventually failed, and was abandoned.
Dennis DeBruler: And the bridge over the canal has become another bridge to nowhere.

Ramon Rhodes commented on Edward's post
Isn't BNSF still switching some industries on the former IN trackage?
A few years back I photographed a switch job working the branch. The former IN trackage was accessed from the north off the BNSF racetrack rather than over the bridge north of Corwith.
Granted the Illinois Northern trackage looked like hell, but there was still service on parts of it. The train I photographed even had a Smurf GP38 for power.
Dennis DeBruler: A satellite view confirms the connection is now gone:,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3
Dennis DeBruler: You're Smurf photos helped teach me about the IN:

Dennis DeBruler commented on Edward's post
A related update is that the track along Cermak finally got removed this year.

Ramon Rhodes commented on Edward's post
IN trackage in 2013. A switch job crossing S. Damen Ave.

Ramon Rhodes commented on Edward's post
Same location in 2010.