The Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad's history begins on June 6,
1879 when it was chartered by John B. Brown and a few friends as they
quickly understood the important of having a terminal line serving the
Windy City due to the increasing number of systems reaching there (Brown
also went on to found the Belt Railway of Chicago). By May, 1880 the
C&WI connected Dolton, and an interchange with the Chicago &
Eastern Illinois, north to where the future Deaborn Station was located,
a distance of about 22 miles. This routing gave the C&WI
connections to other lines along its route including the Illinois
Central, Michigan Central Railroad, Santa Fe, Wabash, Pittsburgh Fort
Wayne & Chicago Railway (a Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary), St.
Charles Air Line Railroad, and the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific
In January, 1882 the C&WI continued to expand by acquiring the Chicago & Western Indiana Belt Railway and South Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, which pushed its system to Hammond, Indiana just across the state line. Including Hammond this gave the C&WI connections to the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway (early Milwaukee Road predecessor), Nickel Plate Road, Monon Railroad, Erie and another interchange point with the Santa Fe and Wabash. Prior to the construction of Dearborn Station the C&WI was acquired by a consortium of railroads as both a means of reaching the station and help to secure needed funding for the new passenger station. These lines included the Santa Fe, Chesapeake & Ohio, Chicago & Eastern Illinois, Erie Railroad, Grand Trunk Western (as a subsidiary of the Canadian National the GTW ferried several of its well known trains to Dearborn), Wabash Railroad (later the Norfolk & Western), and the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway (the Monon).
The C&WI was also placed as actual owner of Dearborn Station even
though it was the Santa Fe which hosted the most trains at the terminal.
During the streamliner era one could find the most prestigious trains
calling at Dearborn such as the Santa Fe's Super Chief, El Capitan as well as the as well as the C&O's Pere Marquette (it later moved to Grand Central Station), the C&EI's Zipper, Monon's Hoosier and Tippecanoe, Erie's Erie Limited and Pacific Express (among others), GTW's Maple Leaf and International Limited (both CN trains), and the Wabash Banner Blue and Bluebird.
Between 1912 and 1933 the railroad also picked up two other small
additions, the Chicago Union Transfer Railway and Burlington, South
Chicago Terminal Railroad.
During the peak of the company's operation it maintained 14
different interlocking towers and owned a total of nearly 152 miles of
track which included all through routes, yards, sidings, spurs, etc.
During the railroad's steam era it operated nearly 100 locomotives with
the largest power being 2-10-2
Santa Fes (it owned just five of these, however). It began replacing
its steamers in 1947 with diesel switchers and light road switchers,
mostly from the American Locomotive Company (Alco) products, which
predominantly were RS1s. Interestingly, the line also even sported its
own livery of black and yellow. While the C&WI did host some
freight services most of this was handled through its Belt Railway of
Chicago affiliate, which utilized trackage rights over much of its
property for this purpose.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
The railroad's primary role was almost to switch passenger trains and keeping rail operations flowing smoothly in and out of
Dearborn Station. During its final days, around 1970, the C&WI was
owned by only the Santa Fe, Erie Lackwanna, Grand Trunk, Louisville
& Nashville, and Norfolk & Western as all other carriers had
either ended passenger operations, switched terminals, or were merged out of
existence. With the terminal's closing as major hub in 1971 following
the creation of Amtrak in May of that year the C&WI's role shrunk
After that point the company mostly functioned on paper only as its
entire property was taken over by the Belt Railway and its remaining
owners for freight use. It remained as a corporate entity until 1994
when it disappeared forever. To learn more about the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad please click here.
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Chicago & Western Indiana