Old Ghosts Of Crown Point/ Northwest, Indiana

This page will look at the Pennsylvania Railroad and Erie Railroad. Both railroads once traveled through Northwest Indiana and passed through Crown Point, the county seat of Lake County. At the 2003 Monon Convention in Monticello, I purchased two pictures of the former Crown Point PRR depot for a friend and Lake County railroad history buff. On a visit to Crown Point one weekend in June 2004, I decided to take the camera and wander. Given guidance from my friend Jim, I set out to wander what was left, or visible of the two railroads that at one time called on Crown Point.

My first stop was the locations of the Pennsylvania and Erie depots in town:

Pennsylvania Railroad

Crown Point, PRR Depot, September of 1927.

  

The was it was. Left: The former Crown Point, Indiana depot, date unknown. Right: Southbound Penn Central passenger train makes a stop at Crown Point. Date unknown. John Fuller photos, courtesy Jim Persky

Crown Point PRR depot, circa 1994. The structure was shortly there after torn down. From the Joseph Stantucci Collection, courtesy of Indiana Railroad Pictures Archives.

  

2004. Left: Looking at where the former depot once stood. You are looking to the northwest. The depot was in the area of Porter and North Jackson Streets. Right: Looking northwest along the former right of way. Pretty much the same angle as the first two images above.

  

Left: At the former depot location, I stumbled on this old tie plate. That is about the only evidence, other than the terrain, that a railroad once traveled through this location. Right: Looking southeast along the PRR right of way from Monitor and Grant Streets.

 

Erie Railroad

Before becoming the Erie Lackawanna, the Erie was chartered in 1832 and was known as the New York & Erie Railroad Company. The Erie transported passengers and freight between New York, Buffalo, Cleveland and Chicago. The Erie merged with DL&W Railroad in 1960 and became the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. In 1972, the Erie Lackawanna went bankrupt, and in 1976, it was taken over by Conrail (the Consolidated Rail Corporation). Conrail was established by the federal government under the Regional Rail Organization Act of 1973 to take over five bankrupt northeastern railroads: Erie Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, New Jersey Central, Reading and Penn Central railroad companies.

  

Left and Right: Former Erie trackage still in place. Photographed on Crown Brick Supply property, these tracks were once part of the Erie right of way through Crown Point. The depot was once located in this general area, I believe.

The Crown Point Erie depot, circa early 1900's.

  

Left and Right: Electrical signalbox along the former right of way at Merrillville Road. This electrical box was utilized at the grade crossing at Merrillville Road. It sits on the northeast side of the former crossing.

  

Left: Former right of way, east of Merrillville Road crossing. Looking down the right of way to the southeast. Many railroad ties are strewn throughout the woods on either side of the right of way. Right: This riser is believed to be, a long time ago (late 1800's, early 1900's), used as a loading ramp for cattle. The farm where this ramp is located has been there since the mid 1800's.

  

Left: More evidence. On the northwest side of the former crossing at Merrillville Road, lies this telegraph pole. Several others are still in place along the former Erie right of way. Right: Looking northwest from Merrillville Road crossing. Right of way is presently over grown.

The time is early in the 1900's. Pictured is a Gary & Southern streetcar about to cross the Erie mainline north of Crown Point. Lake County Historical Society Photograph.

  

Left: Old steel bridge on the northside of town. This double tracked bridge remains. Accessable via the Gruel Brothers property. Please seek permission from the property owners before tresspassing. Right: Another view of the bridge, looking to the northwest from the south bank. There has been talk of extending the walking trail, which starts north of the new Lake County Government Center, south into town.

  

Left: It appears that some work has been done to convert the old right of way. Looking toward the northwest from the bridge. It looks as if the brush has been trimmed back. Right: Former right of way, now a walking/ bike trail.

What the double track mainline north of Crown Point used to look like. It has been said that the EL seperated the lines to prevent shutting down the entire line in the event of a derailment or accident.

  

NEW 04-07-2011 These photos were sent to me a while back. They are of artifacts and the old right of way through Crown Point. To be honest, I lost the information on who sent them. If someone recognizes their work, please contact me so I can give proper credits. Left and Right: Lower part of a signal.

  

Old freight car door lies along the right of way.

  

Looking at the former right of way. Hard to imagine that a railroad once passed through here.

Track tool found along the former Erie right of way.

  

The Highland Erie Railroad Depot, circa 1955. Left: Looking down from the Ridge Road overpass. The Erie tracks are on the right, the C & O Railroad's are to the left. Right: Looking at the east facade of the depot.

Temporary depot at Highland. Not sure of date.

Michigan Central Railroad

The back of this photograph identifies this as Michigan Central steam locomotive #2337, a 2-8-2 crossing the Gary Railways Crown Point Line, June of 1935. I am still trying to pin point the location. One possible is The Hobart line crossing the MC's Joliet cut-off near Georgia Street. Another is the line east toward Garyton and Woodville crossed the MC's Joliet cut-off near Central Avenue in Lake Station. This information comes via Bill Shapotkin of the Air Line Railroad Yahoo Group.

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