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.

James Anders posted
Today's find. 1916 history map showing GTW predecessor roads to form the GTW with dates they became operational. The first being the Detroit and Pontiac RR in 1844.
Peter Dudley Detroit & Pontiac Railroad officially opened its Detroit / Pontiac line on July 4, 1843 -- reportedly, more than the usual celebrating was going on that day.
It took only about 13 years, from start-to-finish, to complete construction along the c. 25-mile route. Swamps in Royal Oak (which had given the entire Lower Peninsula a bad name years earlier) presented a major obstacle.
Peter Dudley Prior to 1900, Grand Trunk Railway of Canada (GTR) referred to its lines west of Windsor and Sarnia as the "Western Division". That year, the name "Grand Trunk Western Railway" was applied to these lines.
After GTR went bankrupt in 1921, all GTR assets became part of government-owned Canadian National Railway (CN). To avoid any possible friction with its U.S. host, CN re-incorporated its U.S. assets as Grand Trunk Western Railroad (GTW) in 1928.
Peter Dudley Chicago, Detroit & Canada Grand Trunk Junction Railway (CD&CGTJ) arrived at "Grand Trunk Junction" (today's West Detroit) from "Fort Gratiot" (aka Port Huron) on November 21, 1859. At first, westbound passengers and freight were handed-off to Michigan Central Railroad (M.C.R.R.) at "The Junction" (as old Detroiters once knew this formerly-rural outpost).
Eventually, relations soured between M.C.R.R. and CD&CGTJ's parent Grand Trunk Railway of Canada (GTR). So, GTR began cobbling-together a new Port Huron / Chicago mainline, consisting of purchased existing track and new construction. When completed, Chicago & Grand Trunk Railway (C&GT) completely-bypassed Detroit.

Brian A Morgan posted
The Grand Trunk Junction Railway was a subsidiary of the Grand Trunk Railway that built a connecting line along 49th Street in Chicago, Illinois. The company was incorporated on June 11, 1880, and opened on August 29, 1881 under lease to the Chicago and Grand Trunk Railway. Its line was double-tracked and began at the Chicago and Grand Trunk's main line at Elsdon, heading east across the Columbus, Chicago and Indiana Central Railway and just south of the Union Stock Yards to a junction with the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad, a terminal railroad that gave the Chicago and Grand Trunk access to downtown Chicago, and which the Grand Trunk Junction acquired a one-fifth interest in. The Polk and Forty-ninth Streets Junction Railway, which did not construct any railroad, was incorporated on March 27 and merged into the Grand Trunk Junction on June 21, 1889. On January 15, 1901, just after the Chicago and Grand Trunk was reorganized as the Grand Trunk Western Railway, the latter company bought the property of the Grand Trunk Junction.
The western half of the line is still owned and operated by the Grand Trunk Western Railroad as part of its Elsdon Subdivision, which continues south from Elsdon along the Port Huron-bound main line, and north from a junction at Oakley Avenue to the Railport Yard at 43rd Street. The latter line is just east of the Norfolk Southern Railway's ex-Chicago River and Indiana Railroad line. East of Oakley Avenue, the old Grand Trunk Junction has been removed from service and disconnected at both ends.
Donnie Biederman: There where tracks in the neighborhood once for IHB?
Brian A Morgan: Donnie Biederman. This map is from 1915. At onetime those very same tracks ran through the middle of Municipal Airport ( Midway after WWII.) I think it was in and around the late 1920's that the IHB rerouted their line and ran South next to the Belt Railway tracks following the same line of configuration as Archer Avenue one block South the Belt Turned south East of Cicero Avenue toward Clearing yard and the IHB went due west to were it connected with their mainline shared with the B&OCT.

Richard Fiedler commented on Brian's post
Sanborn Fire Map of engine terminal
[And some comments discuss some industries that were by this yard.]

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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