South suburbs (various)
South suburbs (various)
Listed here are some junctions that don't warrant separate pages but are still worth noting.
Not to be confused with Calumet in East Chicago, Indiana, Calumet Park is a mile south of Burnham and roughly halfway between Dolton and Hohman Avenue.
Coming from the north on I-94, the Ford (or Calumet) Expressway, exit at Dolton Avenue--it soon becomes State Street--and head east about a mile to Torrence Avenue. Continue past Torrence and turn left just after the road narrows to two lanes. The junction is couple of blocks. Coming from the south on I-94, take the east exit at Sibley Boulevard. Go east to Torrence, turn left and proceed to State Street. Turn right on State and follow the above directions. Security has been tightened here; park at least 40 feet from the tracks and do not approach any closer.
The South Chicago & Southern, also called the "Bernice Cutoff", enters from the north and terminates here. This ex-CR, ex-Pennsy route is the same one that crosses the South Shore and NS at Burnham. The SC&S, now owned by Norfolk Southern, is abandoned south of here. For more on it, see the Burnham page.
The "bottle train." Photo by Bill Gustason
Leading off from CSX here and heading northwest is the Kensington Branch. It is what remains of the ex-NYC, Michigan Central main line that once entered the junction alongside the IHB. It then crossed CSX on its way to Kensington where it joined the Illinois Central main line. The crossing is long gone, as is the connection at Kensington. The line is now just a branch serving local industry.
With the abandonments of the Cutoff and the former MC trackage, there are no longer any diamonds here and traffic has diminished. However, CSX and IHB still operate a total of 70 or more trains on an average day. Traffic is minimal on both the Bernice and Kensington lines.
Nearly everything seen here can also be seen at Dolton Junction, plus it features extensive traffic on the UP main line as well. The best advice is to use the public viewing areas at Dolton.
The junction is located directly south of Dolton and is just north of the suburb of Thornton. From I-94--the Bishop Ford Expressway--take the westbound exit at 159th Street. Go west about one mile to South Park Avenue. Turn left and head south 3/4 mile to a double track rail crossing. Cross the tracks and turn right on 168th Street. Proceed on 168th to another set of tracks. The junction is a block or two north of the grade crossing. However, the diamonds are surrounded by railroad property and are not legally accessible. You can get a look at them from 168th Street, but do not proceed any further.
The former Chicago & Eastern Illinois double track main, jointly owned at this point by Union Pacific and CSX, is crossed by Canadian National's ex-GTW main from Michigan. UP maintains and dispatches the joint line south to Woodland Junction where UP and CSX tracks diverge. The CN double track main is now controlled and operated here by CSX who was granted an easement on GTW between Munster, Indiana, and the south side of Chicago. A few CN trains can still be seen here but most of the traffic is now CSX. All told the line probably sees 6-10 trains on an average day.
An important connector track is located in the northeast quadrant. CSX trains on their ex-L&N, ex-Monon line from Lafayette feed into CN at Munster, Indiana, and travel to Thornton. They then use the connector to access UP/CSX. Amtrak's Cardinal and Hoosier State also travel this route. The UP/CSX line sees about 40 or so trains a day (but has quiet periods), and six to eight trains can be seen from the ex-Monon, including the Amtraks.
CSX plans to rebuild a connection in the southwest quadrant that will allow trains coming north on the joint line to head west on ex-GTW. Doing so allows easier access to Clearing Yard and CSX's Bedford Park intermodal terminal. It also provides an entrance to the west end of CSX's Barr Yard.
Vermont Street (Blue Island)
Located in downtown Blue Island, the junction can be reached by exiting I-57 at Burr Oak Street (also called "127th Street") and heading east a block to Ashland Avenue. Turn right on Ashland and then right again on Vermont St. The junction is less than a mile. Two Metra-owned lines from Chicago join here: the ex-Rock Island main line, now used mostly by Iowa Interstate and Chicago Rail Link north of here, and the ex-Rock Island commuter branch that serves Chicago's Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods, as well as the north end of Blue Island. The branch terminates here, and commuter trains headed southwest to Joliet transfer to the Rock Island main. In addition, Metra Electric's ex-Illinois Central commuter branch to Blue Island terminates here just east of the Rock Island tracks.
Traffic is almost entirely commuter trains, but an occasional IAIS or CRL freight can be seen. Both railroads use Burr Oak Yard, which begins just north of here. The Metra Electric station platform provides a reasonably good view of the south end of the yard. Getting here by train is easy: take one of the commuter lines from downtown Chicago (and, for a little variety, return on the other). Metra's Rock Island trains depart from La Salle Street Station (located at the rear of an office tower at LaSalle and Van Buren streets). Get off at Vermont Street. The Metra Electric trains use the Millennium station (at Randolph Street) and Van Buren street stations in downtown Chicago. Be sure to board a Blue Island train. The University Park and South Chicago trains use different routes.