5. From trail to railroad
The Joliet and Northern Indiana Railroad was built and in operation by 1855, according to
railroad historian, Bill Molony. It was just over 44 miles in length and it extended from Joliet,
Illinois to Lake Junction (East Gary), Indiana.
The new line cut off over 30 miles compared to lines going
through Chicago and soon earned the nickname of the "Joliet
There is evidence that some of the commodities being shipped
to the east, and the finished goods being shipped west on the
Illinois and Michigan Canal traveled over the Joliet cutoff.
The towns of Spencer and Frankfort came into existence as a
result of the railroad.
The Joliet cutoff railroad never had it's own engines or rolling
stock because it was leased to the Michigan Central.
In 1890, the Michigan Central Railroad came under the financial control of the New York
Central and Hudson River Railroad but it continued to operate as a separate railroad.
The Joliet and Northern Indiana Railroad and the Michigan Central existed, at least on paper,
into the mid-1950s because they were mortgaged and were paying off bonds.
In 1910, two trains were run each way every day on the Joliet
Division. A passenger could connect in East Gary with trains
from Cincinnati and Detroit. On the western end, at Joliet, the
line connected with trains for Bloomington, Springfield, and
Railroad poster offering
reduced fares to farmers
attending the International
Livestock Expostion in
designed by Norman Tolson
Old Plank Road Trail
A 22-mile recreation and nature trail in northeastern Illinois