Friday, May 20, 2016

SC&S: SLIC: PRR's South Chicago & Southern (Bernice Cutoff)

Jeff Davies posted
Aerial View. 130th & Torrance. Chicago. Year Unknown.
Photo courtesy of Pat Yonovich.
Researching this Pennsy industrial area railroad was motivated by this aerial view because it is the railroad that goes across the bottom of the photo.

The intersection of 130th & Torrance is near the top of the photo. We are looking northwest with the NKP, South Shore, and Brainard Ave. corridor along the right side of the photo. The Grand Calumet River is on the left. (It looks like it was navigable when this photo was taken.)

In the satellite image below, the SC&S is near the right side of the image.

Looking at a 1916 map of Pennsy routes, we can see the SC&S had tentacles throughout the industrial area of southeast Chicago and northwest Indiana.
1916, also chi_term_1916.jpg in Files section of the Chicago Area Railroad Historians Group 

1916 plus Paint
I added a yellow line to indicate the "mainline" of the SC&S that connected the two Pennsy trunk-line properties in the Chicago area --- Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago on the north end at Colehour Junction and the Panhandle (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis) on the south end at Bernice Junction. I added a blue line to show the part that appears in the aerial photo. This SC&S "mainline" was known as the Bernice Cutoff because it allowed passenger trains arriving on the Panhandle to take a much more direct route to Union Station using the PFW&C tracks. Rick Burn explained in a post: "In February, 1926, the only trains running via the regular line were PRR trains 430 and 431. All stop locals from Logansport, IN to Chicago. These trains also stopped the PRR Station at Washington Heights in the Chicago. 431 left Logansport at 5:15 am and arrived at Union Station at 10:30 am. Southbound, the train left Union Station at 2 pm and arrived in Logansport at 7 pm. A 118 mile run that took 5 hours. Just barely over a 20 MPH average."

The Calumet River Branch is of interest because the SC&S "mainline" next to it has been abandoned but this branch still exists and is operated by IHB. The "mainline" from that branch south through Hegewisch to Calumet Park still exists. South of Calumet Park it is now the Burnham Greenway. This trail switches to the Panhandle's old RoW at Bernice.

IHB also uses the branch heading east from Hegewish to access its Burnham Yard. This branch is abandoned past the IHB tracks.

Bill Urbanczyk posted
Conrail SD50 #6717 heading north on the "Bernice Cutoff" at Pulaski Rd in Calumet City, IL from early 1995. The tracks (former Pennsylvania/Penn Central/Conrail)l are no longer there, it is now the Burnham Greenway Trail. The tracks ran north-south and connected the Fort Wayne main at Colehour Junction in the north to the Panhandle route at Bernice Junction to the south.
Just north of where this photo was taken you can still see the ROW of the Hammond Belt Line Railroad behind Wentworth Jr. High School.
[The comments provide more information about the Hammond Belt Line.]
Information about the SC&S subsidiary State Line & Indiana City, has been moved to be part of another posting.

The Calumet Western RR branch switched to using the C&WI Bridge. There is still a remnant of the Calumet Western (see satellite image below). The straight track was the original route to their own bridge. The route curving west was their connection to the C&WI to use trackage rights on their bridge. I wonder if they use this for car storage since it is now a spur to nowhere. Normally a railroad would at least salvage the tracks and ties and reduce their property tax.
Richard Fiedler shared
Looks like PRR
Michael Riha It's Pennsy, notice the Belpaire firebox.
Bob Lalich The locomotive is just south of 104th St and is pointed compass north. It appears to have been pulling a west bound train, and had not yet entered the curve. There was a switch to a wye track at 105th St and the engine or tender may have picked the points. Hard to tell for certain but the tender may have flipped over on the other side of the track. It is not behind the locomotive. IIRC, the person who originally posted these snapshots is still alive and the event happened in the 1950s.
Dennis DeBruler commented on Michael's comment
As indicated by the squarish corner at the top of the firebox.
Dennis DeBruler commented on Bob's comment
I noticed the grain elevators in the background of the second photo. There were grain elevators all over the southeast side.
Rod Sellers posted
Pennsylvania Railroad (South Chicago and Southern RR originally) crossing at 110th and Avenue E, view north. Visible in the photo are apartment buildings at approximately 109th and Avenue D, abandoned Falstaff Plant and State Line Generating Station. Line ran from Lansing to the East Side (Colehour) connecting two Pennsylvania RR main lines. East Side portion of the line was the subject of controversy after 2 fatal accidents, one at 105th crossing and the other at 110th, the location in the photo. East Side organizations pushed for crossing gates at 112th, 110th, 108th and 105th. They also pushed for a reduction of the 50 mph speed limit to 12 mph on this section of track. There were threats that locals would tear up the tracks if their demands were not met. The tracks were in use until the early 1990s. Currently the former rail right of way is the Burnham Greenway. The attached photo shows the 110th Street crossing looking the other direction. Top of Annunciata School is visible. See comments above for more information.

Hedewisch Railways provides some information on the Calumet River Railway, a predecessor of the SC&S. Evidently NS shares some of the SC&S remnants with IHB.

Paul Enenbach has a 1970 photo of a "bottle train" approaching Burnham Tower.

Paul Enenback has a 1967 photo of a mixed freight approaching Burnham Tower.

Peter Zimmerman posted the above "map plus paint."
The South Chicago & Southern Railroad was a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad, its own switching and terminal line. Here is a map of the system from 1916. Today little remains of the line, what there is, is operated by Norfolk Southern.
Peter Zimmermann And right about where the word Calumet Park is [it should be Calumet City] is where the Hammond Belt Line crossed.
Mark Losiniecki That jct was called Cal Park

Bob Lalich posted several maps of the area in the comments.


  1. Calumet Park Stock Yards were also there just east of the Bernice Cutoff and Calumet Park Tower. There was a small SCS/PRR yard just north of the Mich Central/IHB main in Burnham probably called Calumet Park Yard. The Hammond Belt came through Lincoln Field and came out where Calumet Way is I think at 158th st at burnham ave. The roadbed is suppose to be visible in the woods towards wentworth ave.

  2. Calumet Park Tower burned down in 1972.