An aptly named junction if there ever was one, State Line straddles the Illinois-Indiana border about a half mile northwest of downtown Hammond, Indiana. Most of although the interlocking is on the Indiana side of the line.
From I-94 — the Bishop Ford (formerly Calumet) Expressway — exit at 130th Street and head east about one mile. Just beyond Torrence Avenue, turn right. The street then curves left and becomes Brainard Avenue. As you travel southeast on Brainard, the South Shore Electric and the NS ex-NKP line will be on your right, and you will pass the South Shore's Hegewisch station and Burnham Junction. About a mile or so past Burnham you will cross a north-south railroad and the state line (the road becomes Gostlin Street at this point). A little further east is Dearborn Street. Turn right on Dearborn, cross the South Shore tracks and turn right on Brunswick Street (it runs along the south side of the tracks). The junction is about 200 feet south of Brunswick.
State Line Now
The east-west CSX (B&OCT) mainline crosses Norfolk Southern's ex-NKP mainline travelling northwest to Calumet Yard on Chicago's south side. In addition, a north-south Indiana Harbor Belt branch line (known as the Calumet City Industrial Track) crosses both roads and joins the IHB main about a half a mile to the south. Connector tracks link the IHB with both NS and CSX, and there is a another track allowing access between NS and CSX. About 100 yards north of the junction, running alongside Brunswick Street, is the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend mainline. IHB maintains a small yard north of the junction, and the South Shore's Burnham Yard is just to the west.CSX runs about 60 trains a day, NS around 25. The IHB line varies, but a good estimate would be roughly 15 or so trains, mostly transfers and switch jobs. An occasional freight can be seen on the South Shore, but nearly all of the traffic consists of passenger trains with rush hour being especially busy.
IHB's State Line Tower, a large rambling structure, was perhaps the best known tower in the Chicago area. However, it can now be seen only in photos like the one at the bottom of this page. The tower was closed in August, 2000, and to the disappointment of many, demolished that October. The junction is now remotely controlled by IHB's East Dispatcher.
State Line in Better Times
In its heyday, State Line was one of the most complex interlockings in the United States. The Erie, Chesapeake & Ohio and the Monon ran through here, paralleling the Nickel Plate, and crossing the B&OCT just east of the state line. The Erie/C&O double track main was jointly owned by the two roads, but the Monon used a a parallel single track through Hammond that fed into the Erie after crossing B&OCT and NKP. At the state line, the Erie/C&O main became the property of the Chicago & Western Indiana, the terminal railroad for lines using Dearborn Station in Chicago. Erie, C&O and Monon trains all used C&WI tracks within the Chicago city limits, and timetables from years ago show that C&WI also operated the Monon track through Hammond to Monon's South Hammond Yard.All of these tracks have been removed, and it is no longer easy to discern the old right-of-way that ran between the tower site and NS. The tower was owned and operated by C&WI in those days, but when the tracks were torn up, control shifted to the IHB. Trains of the now largely abandoned Wabash line to Toledo once passed through here on trackage rights, using the B&OCT east of the junction and C&WI to the northwest. Also, terminal road Elgin, Joliet and Eastern accessed the junction using an IHB track (now out of service) in the northeast quadrant that ran behind the tower and crossed the B&OCT before heading east to Gary. State Line was a much busier place back in the good old days and was a well-known and revered hotspot. With the increase in traffic on CSX resulting from the Conrail split, the junction has regained some of its lustre.
There is plenty of open space around the junction, but unfortunately it is all railroad property. CSX and IHB have stepped up their security measures, so while you might want to take a look from Brunswick, you should not plan on a spending any time here.
For more on CSX (ex-B&O, ex-B&OCT) junctions, see Brighton Park, Blue Island, Dolton, and Willow Creek. See also South suburbs (various) for Calumet Park, and Northwest Indiana (various) for Calumet and Pine Junctions. See also 75th Street at South Side (various).