Sunday, February 22, 2015

C&GE: 1865 PRR's Chicago and Great Eastern Railway (Panhandle)

When I got to the Chicago and Great Eastern Railway (C&GE) part of the abandoned/Conrail/Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis (Pennsy's Panhandle) Route, I was running out of gas on that topic, and I did not write much about it. One reason I did not write much about it is that I could not figure out what route they used to enter Chicago. Since one of my goals for this blog is to better understand Chicago railroads, I'm going to dig deeper with this post. Another reason for digging deeper is that the Panhandle posting and the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway (PFW&C) are two of the few postings that have a non-trivial view count. And the wonderful resource of track diagrams makes researching Pennsy properties a lot easier.

I marked a map to summarize the C&GE junctions. The remainder of the C&GE route into Chicago is documented in Western Avenue Railroad Corridor.

After I wrote this blog, I found a map of the Pennsy properties in the Chicago area. To summarize, the Panhandle/CG&E is the leftmost red line and the red line across the top that goes to the north side of Union Station.
1916, links to a higher res image
I record for my future reference a couple of pages concerning the corporate structure of the Panhandle Route: details and summary. Of note, the C&GE name was used for four different companies. An 1863 incorporation started construction of the 64.86 mile line between La Crosse, IN and Chicago. An 1865 incorporation completed that route and abandoned the 10.40 mile segment built in 1857 from La Crosse to Valparaiso, IN that connected with the PFW&C.

My primary resource to determine what that 64.86 mile route was is the above mentioned description of Pennsy junctions. I also found a track diagram and abandonments.


Going West: La Crosse, Kouts, Hebron

The Panhandle came from North Judson as the southern track that paralleled the C&O to La Crosse, IN. On the east side of La Crosse, C&GE headed due west while the C&O curved to the north to leave town to both the northwest and to the northeast. The abandoned Monon is the north/south tree line on the west side of town. I'm surprised that the segment of the CG&E that served both grain elevators in town was torn up. I would have thought they would have connected that segment to the C&O track right next to it. You can easily follow the "land scar" to the west through Kouts, where you see the land scar for the Erie go through town on an angle. It continues due west until it gets to Hebron where it curves northwest to parallel US-231 on the north side.

Photo from TheKankakeeRiver
The Kankakee River web page  has pictures of the depots in North Judson, Kouts, and Hebron. It also has this picture of PRR's original wood trestle across the Kankakee River at English Lake, IN.

Going Northwest: Crown Point; Hartsdale; Maynard and Airline in Munster; Bernice in Lansing, IL; Dolton, Riverdale

A subdivision on the northwest side of Crown Point erases part of the land scar, but you can still see that the C&GE cut through the town on a NW/SE diagonal. You can also see the land scar of where the Erie curved through the north side of town.

At Hartsdale, where it crosses the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern and did cross the NS/NYC/MC/Joliet and Northern Illinois, there are remnants of the track left so that the EJ&E can serve some local industries. Although I could not find any remaining industries. I did spot where the NS/NYC Danville Branch crosses the old C&GE right-of-way. Northwest of the remaining remnants, at zoom level 16z or closer, the road map marks the right-of-way as the Pennsy Greenway. So some rails-to-trails organization found the money necessary to preserve this part of the right-of-way. But only to Calumet Avenue. Hopefully, when the tracks are pulled up in Hartsdale (since there are no longer any industries along it), the greenway will be extended. (Update: NS tore out the Panhandle tracks Aug. 2014. (AbandonedRails))

Just west of US-41, the C&GE crosses the Port Huron--Chicago main of the Grand Trunk Western in Munster, IN at the Maynard Interlocking. It is interesting to note that the speed limit was 70 MPH as of 1949. What I can't tell from the interlocking diagram is the owner of the tower. Since the C&GE was built in 1865 and the CN/GTW was built in 1880, it was probably GTW since the railroad that crosses an existing railroad is responsible for the safety of the crossing. In less than a mile, the C&GE crossed the Monon at Airline. But both of these routes are now gone. Since the 1990s, the CSX/L&N/Monon now terminates a little south at the CN/GTW connection.

West of Fisher Street, the Pennsy Greenway resumes. In Lansing, IL, at the Bernice Interlocking, The South Chicago and Southern headed north to the other major Pennsy property in the Chicago area -- the PFW&C. The SC&S was referred to as the "Bernice cutoff" and this junction is where the Pennsy Greenway becomes the Burnham Greenway.

Starting with Dolton Junction, we can follow the C&GE on an 1897 Chicago Railroads Map starting in the lower-right corner of the excerpt to the right. On the map, the Panhandle has its official name of Pittsburg[sic], Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis.

In Dolton, IL,  the C&GE is still a NW/SE land scar. Dolton Junction still has CSX(B&OCT), UP, and IHB.  From timetable east, the C&GE first crossed the north/south UP/SP/Missouri Pacific/Chicago and Eastern Illinois tracks. Note that the C&EI route became the Chicago & Western Illinois just north of this junction. The C&GE then crossed the two east/west Indiana Harbor Belt tracks. The B&OCT curves northward and parallels the CG&E to the northwest. It is interesting to note that in 1949 the speed limit through this junction was 30 mph. (Remember, we were seeing a 70 mph speed limit for many of the previous junctions.) A remnant of the CG&E now connects the IHB to the B&OCT.

At Riverdale Junction the B&OCT curves westward, crosses the C&GE and goes into Barr Yard. The IC tracks that cross this area were elevated and electrified in 1926, but the IC retained ownership of the tower.
A Steven J. Brown photo
Used with general permission

Steven's comment "Chessie local with Baltimore and Ohio GP9 6487 crossing the ex-PRR Panhandle Line and about to duck under the ICG on the way into Barr Yard in Riverdale, IL - June 19, 1977." The local is on B&OCT tracks.

A remnant is now an industrial spur from the B&OCT that continues NNW to the interchange yard that serves a steel mill. "Bottle trains" used to deliver molten iron to this plant. (Update: A January 2, 2015 photo indicates the bottle trains still run.) The Major Taylor Trail shares the bridge across the Little Calumet River. The track ends as an industrial spur for National Processing. The abandoned C&GE right-of-way continues in a NNW direction as the Major Taylor Trail. 

Going NNW: West Pullman, Washington Heights, Beverly Hills and Beverly Junction

West Pullman Junction is where the C&GE crossed the Blue Island branch of the IC. Even though this crossing is about as simple as it gets, the speed limit was 30 mph in 1947.

At Washington Heights Junction it crossed the Rock Island. By 1998, houses had been built on the old right of way along Beverly Avenue. At Beverly Hills (Tower A), it crossed the Rock Island Suburban Line and then the B&OCT at Beverly Junction (Tower B). But since the B&OCT tracks were the B&O mainline for passenger trains and freight not going to Barr Yard, the B&O tracks have been torn up. The freights not going to Barr Yard would have been going to inner city yards or to the produce terminal. Downtown yards (except those converted to intermodal yards) and the produce terminal are now as obsolete as passenger trains. So I have to go back to the 1897 map to find this route because there is no longer a crossing at Beverly Hills. I also include the Brookdale Spur part of the map, which was B&O's original entry into Chicago by connecting to the Illinois Central tracks. The B&O quit using it for passenger trains at the turn of the 19th century when the IC tracks were elevated and electrified. That is when B&O switched to the westerly route that joins the C&GE corridor at the Beverly Hills Junction. (This B&O tidbit is why this posting has a rrBaO label for now so that I can later find and move this info to a B&O posting.)

1897 Chicago Railroads

The Beverly Hills junction was the end of the mainline from Pittsburgh. The line continues as Beverly Jct. -- Western Ave. Secondary Track so that the signalling standards are below the expense of mainline signalling.

Scott Griffith posted
The B&OCT and the C&GE are at the eastern border of the Dan Ryan Woods, and then they turn due north. The photo captures a train on the Panhandle where the tracks turn join. The tracks on the right are B&OCT routes. (Beverly Junction Section gently curves to the east (left) and the mainline sharply curves to the west.)

The remainder of the C&GE route into Chicago is documented in Western Avenue Railroad Corridor.

1 comment:

  1. I lived in a house facing the Pennsylvania line just north of where the Rock Island crossed the Pennsy at Washington Heights, from 1956 until it was torn up in the 80s. Passenger trains did not run on this stretch at that time. When Penn Central took over the trains seemed to be longer. In 56 just north of 10 3rd there were 2 lines of switch tracks to sidings on the south,bound side. There was a single track that allowed trains to switch from the Pennsy to the Rock Island tracks right at 10 3rd St.. My family said when we moved in there was a water tower at 100th. If anyone has pictures or maps of this stretch of the Penny's , I would like to see them. Also I would appreciate pictures of Pennsylvania RR cabooses.