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The Trip to Indiana for Bart Jennings' Rare Mileage Trips ~ May 10th, 2013

by Elizabeth Guenzler

This year's rare mileage trips, organized by Dr. Barton Jennings, were to be in Indiana (Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum), Michigan (Coopersville and Marne, Charlotte Southern, Southern Michigan Railroad Society, Adrian and Blissfield) and Ohio (Ashtabula, Carson and Jefferson). With the fantastic experiences I had had on my previous set of rare mileage trips in 2006, it was a very easy and quick decision to participate in these ones, and would do them with Chris Guenzler. However, I would have to forego the Ohio trip since I needed to keep five days' holiday for a planned trip in September. All of this would be new to me, so I was really looking forward to it.

I flew from Seattle to Chicago's Midway Airport early on May 10th and slept most of the way. Chris flew into O'Hare Airport, rented a car and drove to Midway to pick me up. He then drove us to Blue Island, sixteen miles south of Chicago, where the Rock Island had its car shops. It is also a popular railfan spot as five METRA stations, three towers, Iowa Interstate's Blue Island Yard, CSX's Barr Yard are here, as well as six bridges crossing the Cal-Sag Channel (Calumet- Saganashkee Channel), a navigation canal and channel between Little Calumet River and Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. It is 16 miles long and was dug over an eleven-year period, from 1911 until 1922.

Blue Island crossing where CSX, Canadian National, Indiana Harbour Belt and Rock Island (Metra) trains operate.

A close-up of the bridges and diamond crossings.

Blue Island tower.

My first train at Blue Island was BNSF 4111 North.

Metra Train 218. We started to leave but found another train before driving away.

Iowa Interstate (IAIS) GP38-2 721 (ex. Locomotive Leasing Partners 2343, exx. Union Pacific 1970, exxx. EMDX 8319, exxxx. Conrail 8039, nee Penn Central 8039).

IAIS slug 651 (nee IAIS 481), mated to GP38-2 721. Our next destination was Homewood.

In 2007, the Village of Homewood opened a railfan park and equipment display adjacent to Canadian National's former Illinois Central main line. The park is located on the east side of the Canadian National line also used by Amtrak. Just west of this the Metra Electric commuter line. Including Metra trains, train counts at this location routinely exceed 100 per day on the eight tracks seen from the platform. Action includes CN/IC, Amtrak and Metra, along with Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern trackage-rights trains.

The Village of Homewood clock at the railfan platform.

Illinois Central caboose 9426 (nee Illinois Central Gulf 199426) donated to the Village of Homewood by Canadian National in 2004 and installed at the railfan viewing platform in March 2007.

Illinois Central GP10 8408 (ex. ICG 8181, nee IC GP9 9181) restored by Canadian National's shops at Woodcrest to the 1996 in-service apperance and donated to Homewood in March 2007.

The Homewood station platform sign and the display.

Metra Electric and Amtrak station as seen from the railfan platform.

Part of the Metra Electric station.

The Amtrak station at Homewood, built in 1923 by the Illinois Central for their City of New Orleans and Seminole service. It is probably the only Spanish Revival station in the Midwest.

The entrance to the Homewood station.

A light engine move of Grand Trunk GP38-2 5849 (nee Pittsburgh and Lake Eerie 2056) and Illinois Central GP40-2 3120 (nee IC 3036).

Myself enjoying my first visit to Homewood. Photo by Chris Guenzler.

Chris was having fun here too.

Canadian National SD70 8906 and British Columbia Railway C40-8M 4609 lead a doublestack freight through Homewood. We were satisfied with our visit here and continued our drive east into Indiana.

The former South Shore station in Michigan City, at 11th and Franklin Streets, which closed in 1987 when Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District took over the service. However, they kept this stop but built a new shelter adjacent to this station.

The South Shore Line station sign.

A light engine move of South Shore Freight GP38-2 2007 and 2005 passed us on the 11th Avenue on the way to Carroll Street station. We drove down to the station area and parked

South Shore Freight GP38-2 2007.

South Shore Freight GP38-2 2005.

We also found South Shore GP38-2 2002.

The fourth engine here was South Shore Freight GP38-2 2000.

2002 and 2005 together.

The South Shore Freight emblem on one of their coil cars. We drove back to 11th and Spring Street for more street running.

South Shore Line Train 111 taking passengers from Chicago to Carroll Street, making its way along 11th Avenue and curving onto 10th Avenue.

We quickly moved the car then caught Train 111 on its journey along 10th Street.

Next to pass us was another light engine move, this time South Shore Freight GP38-2 2006 and 2009.

South Shore Train 113 followed.

South Shore Train 115 crossing the diamond at 10th Street. We relocated the car and waited for Amtrak Train 354.

The Wolverine was a few minutes late arriving in Michigan City. By this time, it was late afternoon and rather cool and breezy and we had had our fill of street running for today. Chris and I found our way to the Super 8 motel and checked in to our rooms then walked over to the Texas Corral for dinner before returning to the motel where I checked e-mail and other things on the Internet and relaxed before getting a good night's sleep.

I had enjoyed my visits to Blue Island, Homewood and Michigan City and had a lot of fun. Tomorrow would be more adventures and my first visit to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.